We head back to agency life this week to interview Zannah Ingraham, Head of Client Service Delivery at MMT Digital.
As usual, we want to know the required skills, tools and KPIs for Ingraham’s role.
If you want to take part in ‘A day in the life’, get in touch.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Zannah Ingraham: I’m the Head of Client Service Delivery at MMT Digital, a digital agency. Specifically, we partner with our clients to help them evolve online. Sometimes that means building a website, or bespoke application to a specific technical brief. Other times it’s identifying how technology can tackle wider business challenges, such as developing a chatbot to help a customer navigate different products, using customer data more efficiently, or reducing checkout times to increase sales. And this can range from small, iterative projects to the implementation of a client’s end-to-end digital transformation strategy.
I’m responsible for all our client accounts and ensuring they’re happy with the work we deliver. It’s a pretty broad role, in that it requires me to be tuned in to the needs of the client and their specific business challenges, but also aware of the technical aspects of delivery.
I sit between the person on the client side who’s accountable for the delivery of the work and the technical teams working on the products; I often have to decipher the language and details of the technology we use for clients – which can often be a challenge!
My interaction with clients is end to end, in that it starts at the new business stage, goes through on-boarding, and into the delivery phase. I’m relatively new in this particular role but have worked directly with about 60% of our clients developing products and services in my previous role as a Client Services Director.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Zannah Ingraham: I lead a client services team that’s quite large – relative to the size of the agency – and we’ve invested in the team because it makes a huge difference to the business overall. Customer service is important in our culture and the reason we’re the UK’s most recommended digital agency, according to another trade publication who shall remain nameless here…
Lots of our business comes from repeat clients and word of mouth, so the experience of working with us is incredibly important to the overall business; I head up a team of 12 which includes; project managers, client service directors and managers, and digital marketing strategists.
Operationally, I report into the Managing Director, Nick Bygate who I have been working with for five years now. We’re close operationally and geographically – I seem to have sat opposite him for most of that time too!
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Zannah Ingraham: I know everyone says this, but collaboration has always been a key part of how MMT operates – we strive to work with clients, not for them. Part of this falls out of working in an agile way. I don’t mean agile in a ‘fleet of foot’ sense, but the professional application of SAFe (Scaled Agile Frameworks) which requires people to collaborate by design. This has been in our company culture for 20 years.
Every job comes with a desired skill set which can be learnt, but the key thing I’m focused on at the moment is evolving the strategies and skills we use as a team, to become more efficient, and robust in our work.
While our engineers are very highly skilled, the main skills I need are the softer ones – namely adaptability, empathy and communication. We create a one team ethos – we work in clients’ offices, spark ideas with their internal teams, and pick up their phones – okay maybe not, but you get my point!
Tell us about a typical working day…
Zannah Ingraham: My day generally starts early – which is now earlier due to my crazy ‘Veggie Lean in 15’ HIIT workout routine! For the time being at least.
After that there’s no typical day, mainly as I spend a lot of time in clients’ offices working on the unified team approach I mentioned, so more often than not my day starts with a train ride to a client’s office but after that, all bets are off. The nature of agile and working in sprints is that the detail of the day is not predictable and throws up unique challenges. On average I spend around two days in the office per week.
Although I’d describe myself as an analogue thinker I don’t think I’ve actually put pen to paper at my desk for some time. If I’m in the office, I seem to be always on a call, video chat, hangout, or meeting – I’m with clients even when I’m not with them!
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Zannah Ingraham: I love the variety, ambitious projects, and that we’re always moving, shaking and doing things differently. In our type of work, curveballs come at you from all angles, which is why it’s important.
It requires resilience and it’s not for everyone, but the joy I get from each little milestone as we build something that’s going to make a huge difference for our client is incredibly satisfying. There is also a lot of freedom and opportunity in this sector, and I like the excitement of seeing a gap, running for it, then owning it. The industry and the technologies change so fast, so there’s massive scope for innovation which ensures I’m always learning.
What sucks? I’ll be diplomatic here. You sometimes find yourself building something that, in your heart of hearts, isn’t going to work for a client, because you’ve inherited a brief quite late in the process that hasn’t been properly thought through. We can build a great house, and advise the client that the edge of a cliff isn’t the best place to have it, but their procurement department has insisted that that’s where it needs to go.
Fortunately, as we’ve grown we’re getting more involved in the strategic aspects of digital business transformation (at one end of the spectrum) and smaller scale proof-of-concept innovation prototyping (at the other) which means technological white elephants are becoming fewer and further between.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Zannah Ingraham: As a business, it’s about growth, which comes from winning new business and doing great work so that clients want to keep working with us. So it’s moving the business forward, and looking for the next product or innovation MMT should be offering. I play a key role here because it’s my job to listen to what the client wants. We want to make clients feel good while delivering amazing work. But foremost, we want to prove the value we add and the difference we make.
I don’t want to duck this one, but the KPIs will totally depend on the brief. We have three main types of client; build, transform, and support.
For a build client, we are executing on a very specific brief. So the KPI is simply shipping on time, on budget, and the client loving the process. For a transform client, we are overseeing a longer-term transformation programme, so that’s often about ensuring internal teams are trained, upskilled, properly resourced and happy. It’s a soft measure of mood more than hard metrics, and again will vary depending on the client’s own metrics of success as we’re an extension of their team. For a support client, this is usually about minimizing the things that go wrong, and fixing them quickly when they do.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Zannah Ingraham: This is usually where people name fancy software, or internal team communication platforms, right? But I don’t use any of that, and I hate Excel. My work has always been face to face, or voice to voice – a legacy from my past days as a writer, to now.
For me listening is key, and then relaying it back to the wider team, and if anyone tells me that is easier over Slack, you’re wrong. I’m clinging on to the quill and ink, and I love a good meeting.
How did you end up at MMT, and where might you go from here?
Zannah Ingraham: I’ve always liked a challenge, and MMT presented itself in a somewhat unique way. I went to a web conference with Parliament in Pennsylvania, USA. I met the founders out there and made the most of the Philadelphia nightlife for the best part of three days.
We discussed opportunities that were available at MMT while there, we kept in touch, and they offered me a position that was the right fit. To date, I have moved from a Project Manager to Head of Client Service Delivery. From here, who knows. I’ve got no plans to jump ship yet!
Which customer experiences have impressed you lately?
Zannah Ingraham: Reducing food waste is a side passion of mine. At MMT we’ve done some great voluntary work with Refettorio Felix in Earls Court in this area. So I would have to go with “Too Good to Go”, an app that’s making real strides in solving a real customer need while also addressing the issue of zero food waste head-on.
What advice would you give a young creative or marketer entering an agency today?
Zannah Ingraham: OK, this is quite a controversial one, but there is an obsession with learning to code and creating a unicorn from a startup at the moment, but there are lots of people out there who can code and few people will have a crack at being the next Mark Zuckerberg.
The UK is a creative services economy so my advice would be to work as hard as you can and be your honest self – we often forget that people buy people and will respect your judgment and skills if you put in the time and effort. Be different.
I think this is a place where everyone has an equal shot at the game. Technology is changing, new challenges are emerging, and so everyone is on a level playing field in this world. Years of experience count for less, everyone is learning, evolving, and shaping. And I think most agencies would say the same.
It gives you a chance to upscale yourself, push ideas, and progress quickly. Progression is massively encouraged and open at all levels. Everyone can carve their own niche, and some of our best ideas come from those just starting out. It’s about thinking beyond what’s in front of you, and it’s always good to have a fresh pair of eyes on anything!
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