Growing a Healthy Relationship with Your Agency

Developing a strong relationship with your Account Manager is crucial to a successful, long-term relationship with an agency. Read on to learn the different roles Account Managers take.

When you’re a new client starting to work with Viget, you’ll be introduced to a team of brilliant specialists to collaborate with during your project. But amidst the day-to-day project hustle, we also want to make sure our work fits into a coherent bigger picture.

Enter the Account Manager.

Although every client relationship is different, the Account Manager’s (AM) main responsibilities are consistent: ensure the success of our current work, nurture positive relationships between our teams, and plan for the future. Over my last 2.5 years as a Digital Strategist and Account Manager at Viget, I’ve come to understand the many different roles an AM can play in service of those broader goals. Below, you’ll find four aspects of the Account Manager role that will help you leverage our team and collaborate with your AM during and after our first project together.

Historian

Your Account Manager is the official historian of your relationship with Viget. Since we’re lucky to work with many clients for five years or more, this can be a big job! Luckily, our internal record-keeping systems make it possible to look back in time and learn from past success and failure. Oftentimes, your AM is a co-author of this history in collaboration with our Project Managers. This level of rigor also helps us onboard new AMs when necessary.

This role is critical when onboarding new client team members to an existing relationship. When we’re introduced to new stakeholders, you can rely on your Account Manager to swiftly relate our shared history, explain the current context, and make sure your entire team feels ready to participate and move forward.

As the proud recipient of a bachelor’s degree in History, I love this aspect of my role and regularly dig into our archive of retrospectives, time tracking records, our internal knowledge base, and old slack channels to understand our past experience and plot an even better future.

Unifier

One of my favorite things is helping our clients de-silo internal teams. This is an essential step when digital fits awkwardly into your org chart, but it’s difficult to know where to start. Your AM can help.

A great way to start the process (or just test the waters) is with a small project for a completely different part of your organization. Ideally, this project is a quick win for everybody and allows us to build bridges without creating risk or draining budgets. Over time and with trust, your AM can be a partner in planning and executing larger initiatives that criss-cross departments and bring new team members into the fold.

For instance, we often work with marketing departments on projects that create positive byproducts for product teams, and vice versa. Our work with FiscalNote began with a brand strategy project which we subsequently leveraged when building a new Android app, creating a consistent experience across the customer journey. Opportunities like this might not be immediately obvious, but a good AM can help you explore ways to get more value out of our work in unexpected areas.

If digital products and experiences are important to your business, you should pursue a unified internal approach to making them excellent. We’re not here to overthrow your org chart, but we can help you fit the pieces together to promote unity and quality across every digital touchpoint.

Confidant

As we build mutual trust and understanding, your AM can be an ideal partner to help you break new ground or take a well-measured risk. In fact, some of our all-time favorite projects became a reality because we built a great partnership with client teams through earlier engagements.

But it’s also possible that not everything on your roadmap will be a fit for our team. And when those scenarios come up, we won’t hesitate to recommend another partner and work alongside them when needed. Sometimes we might even disagree with a new idea or direction, in which case you can also count on us to share our reasoning with candor and professionalism.

I like to encourage clients and Viget teams to get in the habit of exchanging mutual feedback as often as possible. For instance, I often specify an agenda item for feedback during monthly check-ins, help run project retrospectives with our client teams, and keep the lines of communication easy and open with Slack and frequent phone calls. No relationship is without its challenges, but the strongest are built on mutual respect and a shared desire for growth. From that foundation, your AM can be a source of informed inspiration, thoughtful critique, industry expertise, and unflagging support.

Architect

While most of our team is deep in the weeds working on your current project, your Account Manager figures out how to build what’s next. Maybe your five-year plan includes multiple product builds, or a total overhaul of your sprawling web properties. Or maybe you don’t have a five-year plan. Regardless, your AM is ready to help you identify and plan subsequent digital projects.

There’s no single way to approach this. Some client teams thrive with monthly check-ins that allow us to keep a tight grasp on the details and make fast progress on multiple fronts. Others prefer annual summits where we can map out bigger, higher-level priorities for the coming year. When it makes sense, we like to plan data-informed quarterly business reviews to track progress and recommend small tweaks or bigger shifts based on recent performance against KPIs.

No matter the exact mechanics of this process, your AM will be ready to help when it comes time to secure your next budget, scale your staff, or deliver a polished and realistic digital plan to internal stakeholders. It’s always exciting to help clients plan ahead, and it’s most satisfying when we can help you look good doing it.

Conclusion

So are you getting the most out of your AM/client relationship? It’s not always easy to plot the future of your digital landscape, but you don’t have to do it alone. Account Manager's roles are always in flux, but what’s most important is consistent, clear communication and trust. I believe that understanding the AM role can help clients better achieve their loftiest goals. And as always, we're here and happy to help when you're ready to get to work.

Kate Trenerry

Kate is a senior digital strategist in our Falls Church, VA, HQ. She helps new clients distill complex ideas into elegant digital experiences.

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