I used to work at an agency that had an unwritten protocol—avoid having anyone in the agency other than the account people talking to clients. It’s a bit unreasonable, but there was an odd rationale for keeping the communications channel to the clients somewhat narrow. Things like conflicting input, unqualified judgements and just trying to keep stories straight.
The point and the truth is that a good client will have occasion to communicate / talk to any number of people in the agency. And that means any person who comes in contact with a client has the ability to really stir up the pot. It’s important and normal that everyone working on a particular account stay abreast of the overall issues and objectives so they can respond to unexpected questions and crises. Some departments and functions will likely have more involvement than others; and of course, every person in the shop will no doubt be a top-flight professional.
But consider, for all the various individuals who will have direct contact with a valued client, it’s the CFO and the wonderful folks in accounting that may have the most sensitive conversations. A client will often have those casual talks with the creative director or the traffic manager about what’s in the queue and who thought that putrid PMS-332 green was a good idea. But if a client is talking to somebody in the accounting group, consider that it’s sensitive. The conversation will be about the client’s money and not about how well the agency did at the awards show. In addition to questions asked and answered, how helpful was the clerk and did the tone of the response reflect well on the agency’s commitment to its professionalism and brand. It can take years and a lot of expense to establish a great reputation. It can take ten minutes on the phone with an indifferent or dismissive accounting manager to seriously injure a relationship.
The CFO and the accounting group are as much a part of account the team as the CD and the art directors. Oh—and the writers too. And if you don’t think so, consider that every invoice that goes out is the final determinant on whether or not the agency delivered a good product. Did the final invoice have a close relationship to the estimate? Was it easy to understand? Did an invoice show up as a surprise? Did the invoice generate a list of questions—to be answered by people in the accounting department?
Every person in the shop should have the presence and professionalism to unexpectedly talk to a client.