The client contact report or CCR is a critical part of the agency account service function. An amazing number of agencies still lack a systematic process for recording the relationship between the agency and its clients. We guess the concept of doing everything verbally appeals to these agency owners. We can assure you from painful experience that “verbal” is not acceptable. What is, then?
A modern agency should make the client contact reporting process digital, via an agency management system (AMS); using a semi-automated procedure through cloud-based project management systems like Basecamp; or via email. Each time a contact occurs between agency and client, a written document must be generated.
This document is sent or posted to all appropriate parties (the other account team members) and filed chronologically in a digital folder accessible to all parties. The person in contact with the client writes the report, sends it personally to the rest of the account team, and files the e-document in a job folder—all electronically. Even if you don't have a digital AMS, recording and sharing CCRs is essential for account management.
Why do this? Why keep up with your client contact reporting? As Lucy said to Linus, counting her fingers for emphasis and making them into a fist, “I’ve got five good reasons why you should do this!”
You make fewer mistakes!! Say no more; tens of thousands of dollars are lost each month by Second Wind affiliate agencies through not having a documented relationship with their clients.
Everyone is on the same page. There are no misunderstandings about what’s what on a project.
You ultimately save time. If you keep everyone up-to-date electronically, then you don’t need all those drawn-out, wheel-spinning meetings.
You have a CYA* with the client. They conveniently forget the changes they make. You can remind them when you record all of your meetings.
You get a great training tool for new hires. Just let them “read the book,” and shortly they will know what the client is all about.
Agencies May Also Need a Change Order.
The fourth piece of the client communication puzzle (in tandem with input forms, creative briefs and CCRs), a change order covers critical revisions or altered instructions that may affect the scope of work—leading to possible extra hours and costs. A change order documents what the change involves, when it was requested, and who authorized the change. It also causes certain agency procedures to be initiated, including the production manager’s review of the estimate, and the workflow manager’s review of how the change may affect schedules and delivery. In some cases, change orders may trigger a “change of scope” notification to account service, and the account executive must then speak with the client to acquire written approval for altered costs and timing.
Again, you can create a change order template in your AMS, or a custom document for use in your lean project management system.
COPY ALL CHANGE ORDERS TO THE CLIENT to confirm the request.
However your system works, change orders should become part of a job’s digital records, even if that requires scanning and saving paper forms. As with CCRs, change orders are your CYA. Documenting all client instructions and requests ensures the agency will not be called on the carpet for doing what the client asked… and will never have to “eat” the cost of a production “error” rooted in verbal instructions no one bothered to write down.
* Cover Your Ass
See also: Account Service Is a Contact Sport