Experts from the world’s top agencies including Luke Summerfield from Hubspot, Jack Skeels from Agency Agile and Alex Lirtsman from Ready Set Rocket came together to share actionable advice around analytics and reporting, new business strategy and conversion rate optimisation, tailored to “The Digital Agency.”

The webinars that stood out for us were The Next Generation Agency-Client Relationship and The Digital Agency Landscape:Trends 2016.

Here’s what we learned:

The Next Generation Agency-Client Relationship

Presented by Agency Agile CEO, Jack Skeels, we were taken on an insightful journey into the reality of becoming an agile first agency. Haley McBride, Director of Client Services at Starr Conspiracy and Jaccqui Hartnett, President of Starmark International were guest panellists as recent converters to the agile process.

Jack started off by explaining the meaning of an Autonomous Team; that being a group that self manages its work practices to satisfy external goals. He pointed out the importance of understanding that an autonomous team is not unmanaged but rather not managed directly.

He went on to talk about the proven success of a team led business model, in which team members would sit directly below the customer in the hierarchy, followed by account and project managers. Now, that might be difficult to grasp at first but Jack’s team led model delivers better client satisfaction, team satisfaction, repeat business and delivery quality because of four key behavioural drivers.

  • Competence
  • Autonomy
  • Relatedness
  • Recognition

Research has proven that team members who are assumed to be highly capable, who are trusted to choose work and the way in which it is performed, who have the opportunity to work in collaboration with other team members and clients and who are rewarded and acknowledged for their efforts will deliver better results.

Reverting back to his point about autonomous teams not being directly managed, Jack explained that managerial style is still crucial. However, the difference in an agile agency is that the manager or managers understand verbal submissiveness. In an agile agency, there is no “superior person problem” according to Jack, which would describe someone who has been a rising star in a business, a master of his or her craft and speaks louder, faster and more authoritatively than others. Therefore, agile managers act in a more facilitative role, overseeing and helping.

Hayley and Jacqui then talked us through their experience of the shift to becoming an Agile Agency. They spoke about the flexibility and fluidity that their teams had been experiencing and the great results working in collaboration had delivered for both themselves and their clients.

A comparison that Jacqui made which many of us can relate to is the role of traditional account and project managers in checking up on tasks and constantly interrupting the team with “Is it ready yet, are you finished yet?” Instead, with the agile approach Jacqui and her team in Starmark International and sub teams meet daily for thirty minutes each morning to brief each other on project development and discuss any challenges or blockers. This means her team can use the remainder of their day to work without distraction or constant interruption.

Understanding this grievance to the team, Hayley informed us that in Starr Conspiracy they have adapted a no fly zone and flow time model which eliminates the opportunity for unnecessary distraction to team members from account and project managers. This also demonstrates the transparency of the agile approach in terms of mutual honesty and trust within the workplace to complete tasks but also the ability for a company to shape and tailor the approach to suit their circumstances to ensure it works for everyone.

Both Jacqui and Hayley agreed that the shift to an agile agency has improved client satisfaction no end. Undoubtedly, clients enjoy coming to the office and taking part in road mapping sessions and strategic planning and to simply be part of the process. The collaborative working relationship for Starr Conspiracy and Starmark International with their clients enables both companies to work in mutual respect and trust as well as develop client understanding of the work flow process and what is actually involved.

To summarise, agile agencies are the future. Teams that work as teams, collaboratively and transparently are proven to be more successful than teams led by a leader and supervised by a manager. The positive working environment that an agile agency offers can deliver better results for employees and clients simultaneously as happy teams will produce high quality work. Having said that, this shift can be difficult and Rome wasn’t built in a day. Traditional account managers will find it hard to let go of control and some may even resist the change for a time, eventually though the results will overcome and teams will adjust.

The Digital Agency Landscape: Trends 2016

Lead by Alex Lirtsman, Cain Ullah, Dave Benton and Joe Johnston, they all agreed in stating that the single most exciting opportunity for organisations and their clients in 2016 is “optimising the customer experience”.

Now more than ever people are going back to basics and remembering what it’s all about – the customer; making it easy for the customer, giving the customer what they want when they want it, and keeping them loyal.

No-one has ever forgotten about the customer journey and its ever present importance but with households owning more and more devices (the average UK household now owning more than 7 electronic devices according to The Guardian) and multiple touch points outside of the home, such as beacon technology, there is no such thing as an average customer journey. The idea of the funnel as we know it is dead. Now is the time to figure out how we:

  • Test the customer journey
  • Optimise the customer journey AND
  • Track the customer journey (taking into account both offline and online touch points.)

Cain Ullah, CEO at Red Badger spoke about organisations having a wealth of information at their fingertips for ensuring optimal customer journeys. It’s just a matter of accessing it and using it to their advantage that’s the tricky part or the part that some organisations miss.

Each department, each team and each person has their part to play in ensuring the customer is put first and a unified approach is crucial in achieving a personalised customer experience.

Joe Johnston, Vice President of Universal Mind used RBS as a great example of an organisation using readily available data to integrate the experiences of their customers across all the possible touch points; the bank, online and offline.

They have a team of superstar DJs (digital journeys), looking at customer experiences for different products and services, who will work with colleagues across different sections of the bank to feed into perfecting the customer experience. For example they will work with the Call Centre staff to use the invaluable feedback they get on a daily basis to drive design or functionality decisions.

We all know that mobile is ever important but it’s now about more than just having an optimised site, it’s about the experience customers have on your mobile site or app. Customers on mobile only want the most relevant information without having to look too hard to find it. Your desktop website can hold all the information, as long as it is easily navigable, but a mobile site or app needs to go that little bit further.

Spotify is a prime example of this with the introduction of Spotify Running which serves up music to the listener going for a run with a beat that matches their pace. As you speed up, so does the tempo of the music your listening to.

If a customer is at home or out and about and opens your website/app on mobile the first thing they should be greeted with is a store locator showing their nearest store. However, if they open your site or app and geo locators place them in your store present them with information on what’s on offer or store layout.

Dave Benton, Director at Metajive concluded that the trends we are looking at for 2016 are having an inevitable impact on the structure of digital agencies who are having to embrace this change and expand their capabilities to adopt a unified approach to customer experience from development, design, CX testing and marketing.

Digital Agency Day has proven extremely insightful for our team. We have taken away various actionable learnings that will benefit both our own team and our clients. Hearing from Agency experts who have trialled and tested numerous approaches and processes throughout their careers has enabled us to hear first-hand how other agencies operate, the good and the not so good and therefore how to improve.

Thanks to Unbounce and Hubspot for sharing this with us, we look forward to the next one!

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