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How to get along with your Digital Agency

Problems can be avoided by adhering to a few principles in how you deal with your digital agency (and how your digital agency deals with you too of course!!).

Adam D 9 June 2011

We take on a lot of customers that have come from bad (digital provider) relationships. We have over the years lost a handful of customers for the same reason (not very often thankfully!). In almost every case, I think the problems can be avoided by adhering to a few principles in how you deal with your digital agency (and how your digital agency deals with you too of course!!).

It's all about a relationship of course - built on trust first and foremost. The sales process usually helps get this sorted, and you choose someone you feel you can trust. Once you've chosen the lucky company you wish to partner with, here are some tips to help the relationship last as long as possible.

1. Understand your warranty - Unfortunately many customers expect a website to have an unlimited warranty (or a long warranty period), and for the website to work as it did on day 1. This isn't the case. Providing a website is like buying any other piece of software. Websites live on servers and computers which change every day. The software which drives your website (web server, database etc) is under constant maintenance and upgrade by your hosting providers. Because of this changing environment in which your website lives, your Digital Agency partner will almost always place a time limit on warranty fixes. This is often <90 days in length. Therefore it's important to get all your testing done during the warranty period to ensure everything is fixed within the price. For a website, the provider will fix bugs after the expiration of the warranty period, but it needs to be paid for.

2. Understand your IP ownership rights - About 25% of the new clients we take on come from clients that have been burnt by the cost of having to revert to the software author of a proprietary content management system (CMS) which cannot be edited by you, or your chosen software developer (if that isn't the original provider of the CMS software). There are sometimes huge (tens of thousands a year!) license costs associated with these proprietary CMS systems which may be running your website, which cannot be avoided - and in some cases, you also can't take the site elsewhere and are stuck with the original CMS vendor. Ouch!

3. Don't be rude - Rude or aggressive emails which are personally insulting and take the focus off the issues and place it onto the people, rarely evokes the most helpful and useful response. We hold ourselves to high standards of courtesy and professionalism at all times. A polite but firm customer who points out problems and demands a sensible strategy to fix them, will ALWAYS get a better result, than a rude or insulting client who vents frustration and burns relationships in the process.

4. Remember its a partnership - As much as all businesses want more customers, this is a two way street. Service providers are looking for long-term customers, and you are no doubt looking for a long-term service provider. To achieve this requires productive, positive, supportive and respectful relationships.

5. The golden rule - It goes without saying that we all need to show respect, honesty, transparency and ethical behaviour in business. If you treat your agency as you'd like to be treated - put yourself in their shoes - it usually all works out just fine.

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