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What’s with all the agency reviews?

A flurry of agency reviews has been stealing the headlines over the past few months. Volkswagen, Mondelez, and Coca Cola are among some of the companies who are undergoing reviews of their media agencies and agencies of record. Then there are others – like Best Buy – who are ditching the ‘agency of record’ concept all together. They are bringing more work in-house, and will start to have creative firms enter a bidding process for key projects, like the Christmas holiday season.

So why all of this change, all of a sudden? There are a few underlying reasons, but the main one is this: consumer demands are changing, and organizations are reacting to meet those changes. So it comes as no surprise that, as part of a broader shift in marketing and organizational strategy, consumer-focused brands are re-thinking the way they interact with their customers.

When it comes to customer experience, service providers (like digital agencies, creative shops, and anything in between) are a key ingredient to achieving success over various customer touch points. So how are service providers interacting with organizations to help them with the changing models? Here are three major trends happening now:

1. Service providers are becoming an extension of your marketing department.
It’s no surprise that content is king. But the real question is, how is your content being delivered, how is it being consumed, and what is measuring that consumption? What purpose is it serving? Service providers like Wpromote and Laundry Service are acting as an extension of organizations’ marketing departments. They are focusing on content creation; owned, earned, and paid media; social strategy; and they are acting as a resource for campaign direction and ROI outcomes. The amount of time and effort that is required to produce great content should not be underestimated – and that’s where these types of service providers are helping to ignite customer interactions and improve the customer experience.

2. Service providers are helping you define organizational vision & strategy.
Vision is not the same thing as strategy, but they are both crucial components for developing purpose. Vision is knowing where you want to go, strategy helps get you there, and purpose defines why you want to go there. There are the big firms, like The Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey, who are the top players in this category, but there are also a wide variety of small- to mid-sized service providers who are great at helping with these key points, and are not always recognized in this light. Many times, smaller service providers are brought in by an organization to help with a localized problem (“ we need a new CMS” or “we need a new social campaign.”) These perceived needs might be real, or they might be masking an otherwise undetected organization-wide issue. Service providers get to the root of the problem by asking pointed questions: what is the underlying problem that the organization is trying to solve? Are they in need of organizational change? Will a new content management system or a social campaign cause business to shift dramatically, or is there another solution? Looking beyond immediate needs, service providers can enter with a fresh perspective and get to the root of how to solve your business problems.

3. Service Providers are helping with technology expertise.
Spoiler alert – we live in a digital world. Seamlessly integrating an organization’s complex technology ecosystem is no small feat. If your CMS isn’t talking with your CRM, and your commerce plugin doesn’t know where the leads are coming from, the organization is never going to have a holistic view of its customers. Service providers have relationships with vendors to gain the necessary knowledge and also provide important feedback about vendors’ products in real scenarios. They have  the experience of completing like projects and implementations with other organizations. And they have the industry know-how to tackle complex situations and provide value to businesses. At DCG, we believe there are 10 core competencies that every organization needs for a CEM strategy. Technology fluency is just one of those competencies, but it is an important building block to enabling the other nine competencies and should not be underestimated. Consistent and absolute integration across multiple channels is a crucial step toward achieving a holistic view of an organizations’ customers.

The relationship between organizations and agencies is changing. The above statements are just three of the ways service providers are adapting, and helping organizations to solve complex business challenges. They’re helping companies respond to a changing world and they are aiding them to develop coping mechanisms to navigate what the future will bring. Organizations, in turn, are changing the way they interact with service providers as well. One thing that will probably never change: the future customer landscape will be forever evolving. Having partners along the way to help navigate those yet-unknown fields will provide the highest chances for success.

To learn more, check out our research section on Service Provider Selection Tools.


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