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Thoughts

How is your design agency performing?

Simon Croft, Creative Director

As a thoughtful agency by nature, finding out what our clients think about the service we offer is a fundamentally important aspect of our agency/client relationships. It allows us to understand where we excel and where, if necessary, we can improve. So we decided to make a positive start to 2022 by surveying all of our clients. 

For us, polling our clients is about creating a place where they can be honest with us. Inevitably this means that we are opening ourselves up to constructive criticism. It’s not an opportunity to defend ourselves or decide that the client is being difficult. It’s about creating a culture of continuous improvement – making changes, however big or small, to improve the way we do things.

In our 12 years in business, we’ve learned a lot. We aren’t the same agency that we were in 2010; many of our processes have changed, we have seen staff come and go, and we have taken on progressively bigger projects from all different kinds of clients. Each and every part of this journey has taught us something in one way or another, and today, we are a sum of all those parts.

But acting on our own experiences alone is only one side of Orangery. Our clients’ experiences are what help us to build upon our reputation and continue to strengthen relationships. A client survey ensures that we don’t have an internal bias. If you are working with an agency that doesn’t request feedback, ask yourself why?

It’s not all about numbers

Many surveys are executed as a Net Promoter Score, or NPS. Whilst these can be useful, their structure is somewhat rigid when compared to a traditional survey. NPS disregards answers in favour of numbers, and numbers are grouped into two areas; promoters and detractors. The illogical way in which a score is garnered from the results means that both a 70/30 promoter/detractor score and 40/0 promoter/detractor score both result in a final score of +40.

By using a fairer scoring system (a simple five-stage ‘poor’ to ‘excellent’ scale, or marks out of ten) and giving our clients the space to write comments based on their personal experience and project participation, we are able to get a better feel for cognitive and practical aspects such as culture, emotion, chemistry and so on.

The questions we ask are vitally important too. We don’t like to blow our own trumpet, but we know we are good at design, otherwise we wouldn’t be here. If all of our survey questions focused on creativity, we’d likely receive a high score across the board, but it would tell us very little about how we deliver projects and how clients perceive us.

Important questions in a client survey

We asked a number of simple questions in our survey, for example:

  • How well do we understand your business objectives?
  • How well do we meet your timelines and budgets?
  • How would you rate the accessibility and responsiveness of Orangery?
  • What do you like the most about working with Orangery?
  • How could Orangery improve the service we deliver?

One interesting angle we also chose to take was to ask our clients ‘What do you perceive as Orangery’s core areas of expertise?’ Whilst this was a multiple choice question, the predefined answers were broad enough for us to get a good feeling about where our clients perceive our creative expertise to be strongest.

For example, if we’re producing a lot of motion and animation, but our clients aren’t necessarily noticing that it’s part of our wheelhouse, maybe we need to market ourselves a little better in that area.

Survey results

So let’s get into it. Our clients left some lovely comments, but here are a few that really resonated with us and reassured us that we’re doing things right.

This one made us smile. It’s not unusual for businesses, brands and organisations to feel a little detached from their agency. Perhaps catch-ups and calls are few and far between, or as is quite possible in recent years, they’ve just never met in person. We always strive to act as an extension of our clients’ teams. This brings out the best in all of us, and keeps communication and creativity flowing throughout a project.

Several clients have come to us off the back of poor experiences with previous agencies. Often, these relationships can feel fickle or falsified, with the main goal of the agency just to get the project delivered and invoiced. That’s absolutely not us. We find genuine excitement and intrigue in every project that we take on. That’s why we take them on.

As we said before, a beautiful brand identity or mind-blowing website is only a small piece of the puzzle. Soft skills such as communication, collaboration and connection are fundamentally important, as are the finer details such as budgets and deadlines.

Well that’s just lovely. The longevity of this relationship is testament to our consistency, even as our agency has grown and our teams changed along the way. But we owe statements like this to our clients too. They make projects a joy to work on, and without them, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to produce the work at all.

Orangery’s final thought

We are incredibly happy with the overall scores. Of the six scored questions, 90-100% of our clients rated us as good or excellent, with our overall average being 91%. All of our clients would recommend us to a friend or colleague, with 92% rating us a 9 or a 10.

But what about critical learning? We are not perfect, and every agency, no matter their size, fame or reputation, has room for improvement…

  • We learned that our servicing team could play a more strategic role in a project, which would help drive projects along.
  • One of our clients pointed out that they’re not always aware of what is an appropriate query when it comes to functionality around a website. From that, we can understand that there is a knowledge gap with some of our clients, and a small degree of help around technical awareness wouldn’t go amiss during the early stages or the project.
  • And finally, one client required a little additional support with SEO and general web ranking awareness. So that will be our next focus. 

We’ve said it before; the best thing we love to hear from our clients is “You just get it”. It’s fantastic to get that fizzy feeling of affirmation that we’re doing things well. As a thank you to all of our lovely clients who helped us, we will be planting several trees through the National Trust. Now we think that’s something to smile about. 

If you’re a business, brand or organisation looking for a design and brand agency who just get it, that’s us. We should talk.

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