One of the most vexing challenges to traditional media sellers is the small digital agency. These one- or two-person shops can offer a high touch service to a small number of clients. They are often in front of the customer first, offering the SMB more attention, service and follow through than any large media organization ever has.
On a local search panel at the most recent BIA/Kelsey event in Atlanta, YP’s VP of Marketing Chuck Lee addressed this dilemma by suggesting that traditional sellers may need to sacrifice margin to grow customer lifetime value. And the key to making this happen is a higher touch service layer.
“Cost of customer acquisition will kill a business much faster than cost of service,” Lee said.
So are we entering a new era of high-touch service in the local market? YP is moving in this direction with a new go-to-market approach in the local channel that combines a projected level of performance (without a performance guarantee) with a high level of service, where reps meet advertisers on a monthly basis to review progress and make adjustments as needed to improve results. It turns out the attention and willingness to make adjustments to improve results are better drivers of customer satisfaction than an explicit guarantee.
We may be seeing the end of the performance guarantee, which brings with it so many unintended consequences. We seem to be in the advent of an era where an agency-like approach, with frequent touchpoints, is going to be the model for retaining customers.
This approach requires investment — in people and training for starters. Nothing is free. Technology and automation can go a long way toward making a new higher service approach efficient, but the importance of the human touch will never disappear completely.