BIMA Masterclass – Adapting to changing client needs

08 Apr 2021

As the pace of change within client organisations increases, so does the opportunity for agencies to adapt and prosper. But what should you change? In which order? And what does evolving from good to great really look like?

Our latest Masterclass, led by BIMA’s Transformation & Leadership Experts Co:definery and Curve, set out to answer these questions. Robin Bonn, founder of Co:definery, was joined by Curve’s Lawrence Weber and Bonnie Linieres to introduce an intimate group of agency leaders to a model for defining and actioning the most impactful changes.

What is your agency’s Customer Experience (CX)? 

Just as CX has become fundamental for consumer brand success, it’s now just as important to agencies. The market is oversupplied, undifferentiated and it’s easy to switch between agencies. So your ability to stand out and reassure clients that you’re right for them has become mission critical.

“Differentiation has grown up. Clients don’t care about a pithy strapline; they want to know exactly where your specific expertise lies and – just as importantly – they want to see it proven in everything you say and do”

– Robin Bonn

This is why your agency’s CX is a powerful, business-wide lens through which to prioritise change.

Introducing the Agency CX Roadmap

Developed by Curve and Codefinery, the Agency CX Roadmap process enables agencies to assess their CX across five business pillars. Each pillar features a range of components that contribute to a powerful, differentiated experience.

Strategy – e.g. differentiation, internal buy-in, value proposition, purpose, target audience
Leadership – e.g. collaboration, innovation, culture, delegation, self-care and team care, organisation
People + operations – e.g. people strategy, employer brand, diversity, inclusion, talent attraction / development, financial health
Marketing – e.g. thought leadership, consistency, owned media, campaigns
Sales – e.g. metrics & reporting, client development, share of wallet, partner collaboration, upstream targeting, conversion, pricing.

Using two highly structured breakout group exercises, the Masterclass focused on a single element of each of the first two pillars – strategy and leadership.

Strategy: how effective is your value proposition?

To identify learnings, participants were challenged to rank their agency’s value proposition on the following sliding scale and then explore their experiences.

  1. Just a woolly statement of services
  2. Generic benefit statement
  3. Differentiating claim that’s not ownable
  4. A claim that’s bespoke to the agency’s unique expertise
  5. A unique claim that’s evident throughout the agency’s entire customer experience.

Many at the Masterclass placed themselves at 2 or 3 and highlighted their perceived barriers to scoring higher:

“We worry about pigeonholing ourselves.”

“There’s a pressure to create a generic proposition in order to appeal to as wide an audience as possible.”

“There is tension between the interesting work we want to do vs winning and retaining the significant relationships that bring in more revenue.”

Value proposition – lessons learnt:

The shortest, simplest way to differentiate your agency?

“Being different matters, so one method is to align your agency around a core belief or an attitude. Even though it can feel scary to have a point of view, it’s much worse to be invisible – people pleasing doesn’t stand out in the crowd.”

– Robin Bonn

Leadership: how well does your agency work together to get things done?

The second exercise saw participants explore collaboration – one of the most important aspects of the Leadership pillar of the Agency CX Roadmap. Specifically, how well do their people work together to get things done?

Once again, they were each challenged to rank their agency on a carefully graduated sliding scale and then explore their experiences to identify learnings.

  1. People compete and undermine one another, with regular conflict
  2. There’s occasional teamwork on shared projects
  3. Everyone collaborates on one aspect of their work
  4. Some examples of great collaboration (internally and externally), producing high quality results at speed
  5. Everyone adopts different ways to collaborate, depending on individual strengths and project needs.

Most scored themselves between 3 and 5, whilst surfacing the following barriers to scoring higher:

“Culture can be a challenge to collaboration – especially when it’s not been embedded within the whole team.”

“Sometimes different team objectives can cause clashes across the whole business.”

“Our scale makes it harder for everyone to be on the same page.”

“Egos and new people can sometimes become a hurdle, so it’s important to make sure that all team members understand our culture and how we work.”

“Ensure collaboration is valuable, not just for the sake of it: for the right reasons.”

Leadership and collaboration – lessons learnt:

Find out more about adapting to change using the Agency CX Roadmap here.


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