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Strengthen In-House Creative Teams
As a leader of a creative shared services organization, you know better than anyone the challenges of servicing internal departments while competing with freelancers, other ancillary internal groups and external agencies. Many times you’ve lost the battle for work before you’ve started because of the stigma that comes with being an “internal creative services team”. Here are 5 things that you can do to strengthen your in-house agency and break the shared services stigma.
1.Know and clearly articulate your services. A common mistake of shared service leaders is attempting to be all things to all groups and not developing subject matter expertise and exemplary work in focused areas. Develop the brand of great creativity and exceeding expectations by developing and promoting the services you have the capabilities to do well. Ensure capabilities, pricing and the creative engagement process is outlined to include client expectations. For services you don’t offer, provide vetted outsourced partners. Clients will appreciate a referral in exchange for a project that doesn’t hit the mark.
2. Provide exemplary customer service. Always. The biggest complaint of surveyed internal clients for shared service or support organizations is customer service. The lack of engagement, sense of urgency and accountability is a stigma often associated with internal teams; where a mere hand slap is the only consequence to poor delivery. Not only do external freelancers or agencies compete on cutting edge creativity, but they compete with internal teams in how they manage client expectations, projects and most importantly how they handle disappointments. Is every member of your team clear on the importance of exemplary service? If not, a simple lunch and learn can get them on track.
3. Add Value. It’s your company. It sounds cliché, but adding value is a simple and effective way to drive and retain business for your shared services organization. Similar to articulating your services, the value to internal clients doing business with your organization has to be outlined. Competitive pricing and institutional knowledge are givens. Creating an experience that reduces customer effort is a different story. According to Harvard Business Review, the #1 most important factor in customer loyalty is the reduction of customer effort. Walk through the engagement process from their perspective and identify the opportunities where you can do things better, faster, more effectively and if not compromising quality, cheaper. Always take the time following a project to circle back with your client to ensure all expectations were met, and ask them to articulate the value in working with your team on that particular project. Pretty soon, you’ll have a list of quotes not just for your intranet or collateral, but for an executive sponsor within your organization that will drive projects and, in some cases, mandate to leverage your team.
4. Attract, hire and develop top talent. Despite the competitive employment market, you have an opportunity to build a tiger team of creative experts, so don’t settle. Building a high-performing creative team requires many moving parts and trusting various aspects of the process to equally talented colleagues. Hiring just for creative talent doesn’t work with competing personalities or if qualities like holism and customer service aren’t a priority for an employee.
5. Know your stuff, be the Subject Matter Experts (SME). Changing your position with any customer starts with their perception of your knowledge, skills and ability to delivery. Focusing your services allows you to build expertise, stay on top of trends and to most importantly, educate your customers on the trends (shiny new toys) that catch their attention. Educating on creative trends and if they would or would not be good for their projects based on your understanding of the factors is a great way to engage with clients and begin the shifting of perception. Developing subject matter expertise requires your organization to be nimble, informed and committed to becoming industry leaders at what they do. It is a great development opportunity for your team, which leads to the final step towards breaking the shared services stigma.
You can strengthen your in-house agency and break the shared services stigma with your willingness to drive change. If you’d like to discuss this article or ideas specific to your organization, email firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author, Eliana Hassen is a strategist and marketing tsar who has spent over 20 years working with Fortune 500 brands and their creative service organizations (and video teams) on optimization, execution and performance.
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