Having worked in the agency world close to a decade now, I have seen both successes and failures when it comes to client relationships. If you’ve had experience in this space yourself, you too have probably heard your share of horror stories, whether it be agency staff talking about clients or clients talking about agencies. Sadly, I’ve seen it leave more than a few folks disheartened on both sides.
But there’s good news. I’ve realized over the years that there are some characteristics that all good agencies share, and they are as follows:
Focus on Long-Term Project Success
Sounds obvious, right? But this may come with some surprising characteristics. It means that the agency will be constantly looking for and communicating the weak spots in your project. Whether it be your marketing plan, your app/website or your long-term goals, this agency is focused on making sure the success of it all is priority #1. That means they will put your long-term success above selling you something, because they know that the best relationships form around this successful product.
Honest about Their Strengths/Weaknesses
Similar to a job candidate, you want someone who is honest about their strengths and weaknesses because it means they know themselves. They should be able to speak confidently about what is in their wheelhouse and be clear about alternatives if what your project needs is outside of that. They would rather be a part of a larger collaboration working on a project’s success than try to force a less than superior solution through their own process.
Most of us love talking about ourselves. And a good agency should be able to talk eloquently about why they are relevant for your project. But most importantly, they should constantly be listening. While we have deep experience in our industry, often we have very little direct experience in yours. That business knowledge is priceless to the project’s success, so it’s absolutely necessary to have it be heard and understood throughout the entire process.
Can Pivot Quickly
I was in my son’s first grade classroom the other day, and I saw a very simple breakdown of the engineering design process on the wall.
Notice how simply it distills down the process involved in creating a new product? I particularly loved seeing the Improve section, because the only guarantee in the fast-paced technology space is that things change quickly. Regardless of how meticulous the planning phase is, important changes can occur even during the project’s development phase. The agency should prepare for this and know how to pivot whenever needed – even in later phases of the process – in order to keep the project’s success in mind.
Like many agencies, we at Centresource have our preferred tools. But the conversation should never start with those. Using the wrong tool for the job is just as bad in development as it is when you’re building a house. The tool should clearly solve the problem, and the fit should feel natural for the product and for your organization internally.
Our industry is very competitive and developers are constantly looking for the next challenge, so it’s not really possibly to have all the talent in a single area at one agency. With that said though, you should be able to vet the senior talent at the agency. Your product deserves people with deep experience in the technology behind it, and a good agency expects to brag about their senior development staff.
Keep these characteristics above in mind as you’re vetting an agency, and I believe you will be poised to make a good decision.