In our agency we trust

David Miln

Trust, or rather a lack of it, is an abiding concern for agency–client relationships. The agencies, their associations, the purchasing managers and client organisations are all presently engaged by the problem and what might be done about it. They are quite right to be concerned. Client trust in the agency's ability to deliver a significant creative contribution to their business is essential for a sustained relationship. When trust erodes the agency becomes vulnerable, confidence falls and the work suffers. This cycle is happening more now under the additional twin pressures of measured accountability and cost-efficiency.

For many years Results has conducted client–agency-relationship satisfaction studies on a wide range of agency and client types, using both open-ended and structured questioning. Recently, the structured data have been aggregated to draw general conclusions about the dynamics of client–agency relationships and the issues involved (1). This article is based on that work and on an earlier study (2) looking into the process by which 45 individual agency–client relationships had failed, with a new agency subsequently appointed.