3 Things I Learned About Client Service from Hollywood Talent Agents

When I began my career nine years ago in the mailroom of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, one of the biggest talent agencies in the world, I had no idea that I would be in for a crash course in the art of sales, negotiating and most importantly client service. In the two-and-a-half years I spent at WME and another two at International Creative Management (ICM), I had the opportunity to work for five of the best talent agents in the business.

The first desk I landed at was with a top tier reality television agent who insisted that I memorize the telephone key pad so that I could “dial without looking” in order to maximize speed and efficiency. Another was a top motion picture talent agent who represented notoriously difficult celebs. When one of our clients asked me to have his favorite prop mustache overnight shipped from New Mexico to LA on a Saturday, I made it happen. Though each of these agents had a unique style, there were some common threads – specifically when it came to service. You might be saying to yourself, “Well, I am not representing A-list celebrities so how does this apply to me?” Whether you work with individuals, small businesses or large brands, treating them like a star will build trust and loyalty. Here are three ways you can be like Ari Gold…

“No” Is Not an Option

One of the first things I learned in Hollywood was that “no” is never the right answer. If your boss or a client asked you to get something done, no matter how seemingly impossible, you figured it out. The same mentality applies with customers. If a customer asks for help with something that might be outside of your scope or difficult to accomplish, reassure them that you can help. Not to say that you should let clients walk all over you or make false promises, but be resourceful and help your client get the information they need. A client of mine recently asked me if we could maintain a blog for them. Blogging is not a service that our company normally offers, but this was an important client and we have writers on staff, so guess what? We started a blog for them. Start learning to say, “I am sure we can help you out with that”.

You Work for Them 24/7

Hollywood agents always return client calls first, then internals, then executives, then everybody else. Your clients are your priority. If they have a problem at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night, then YOU have a problem at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night. Clients are your bread and butter. Without them, you are out of a job. So while your business hours may be nine to five, you must always be available to your clients. If the best time for your client to have a phone call or meeting is 7 AM, then that’s when you’ll have it. Most business owners are busy from nine to five actually running a business, so making yourself available outside of regular business hours will impress them.

Stop, Collaborate and Listen!

Sometimes your clients just want to know that you “hear them”. Stop talking and listen to what they are saying. Once you start really listening, then you will be able to start offering helpful advice which they will welcome. I have seen a lot of executives fail at listening to their customers. They become so wrapped up in hearing themselves talk that they forget to stop and listen. This will turn customers off. Demonstrate that you are listening by asking follow up questions or restating what the person just said. If a customer is angry, pause, listen and try saying something like “I hear you, here is how we can help solve this…”

Remember, if you’re not going above and beyond for your clients, another agency will. The clients struggles are your struggles, and their wins are your wins. Lastly, don’t expect too much credit. As Survivor Producer Mark Burnett once said to my boss, “You’re only as good as your best client.”