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“Digital communication can sometimes fall short”

Pennsylvania, December 18th, 2017

United States-based digital agency Inovāt started in 2002, with just two individuals with a dream of doing award-winning work that embodied its namesake value – innovation. While the business has grown in the interim years, it’s still a small family atmosphere.

Following a set of experiences in other agencies, Aly Keen is now a Project Manager at Inovāt and has a lot on her plate, considering the agency has already partnered up with 19 Startups, 14 Fortune 500 clients and seven non-profits.

In an interview with TIA, Keen describes the key aspects of good customer relationship, while giving tips on organizing the workload. Despite she highlights digital tools as a good resource, she warns they can have limits as well.

Could you describe your career path so far and what drove you to Inovat?

It all started with unpaid internships. Mine were invaluable in gaining experience into the world of marketing. As I was sending out resumes nearing the conclusion of my second internship, I was contacted by a fellow alumnus and secured an interview and then job in a B2B agency as an associate Account Manager.

I was there for several years when I heard about Inovāt. Funnily enough a client actually told me about Inovāt and how he admired their work. When I learned they had an opening for a Project Manager, I took a leap of faith and applied. I was at a point where I was ready for some new challenges and to also gain experience in the B2C space.

What is the best way to earn trust from customers? What are the best practices to develop excellent customer relationships?

Setting customer’s expectations and then following through on your promises are crucial. We have clients that have never worked with an agency before and then some who have and got burned by the experience. Communicating exactly what we’re going to deliver and making sure the client understands our typical process (which can vary depending on the type of project and the client’s needs) are important to us.

How do you organize and prioritize your workload?

Lists, lots of lists. Early on in my career I got a reputation as a queen of sticky notes. I still use sticky notes but I’ve also integrated some digital tools into my everyday routine to keep track of the entire team’s to-dos. We make a very conscious effort to ensure our team members aren’t too bogged down with assignments and share the burden of the work. We have a weekly sit-down on Monday mornings that I lead and everyone walks away from knowing what’s expected from them that particular week.

Can you give me an example of when you have worked with multiple clients at the same time and how you managed?

We constantly have several client projects going on simultaneously. It’s about priorities and meeting the agreed upon deadlines. Luckily the types of projects we are working on vary so we can effectively divvy up the work amongst our team. Also, when you’re working with multiple clients and projects you have to learn to be flexible and adapt to sudden demands. It can make some workdays very interesting!

What is your communication style with your team?

My coworkers have nicknamed me “Mom,” so I’d say I’m caring, but firm – like a lot of mothers are. Having a minor in communications, I take great care in communicating as many details as I can upfront and clearly so that it’s obvious what is needed and what the next step is. Digital communication can sometimes fall short. We’ve all received those emails where we can easily misinterpret the ask or the intention behind it, my goal is to never come across that way.

What tools do you use as a manager to plan your activities?

Trello and Slack are our team’s must-have tools. We also all share a Google calendar so we can see what’s happening at a glance.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Landscape architect. I’ve always been a planner and I love to garden. I’m really not sure why I didn’t think of that sooner, but I like to daydream about it.

Are there online publications, professionals, industry leaders you follow?

There are a few e-newsletters that I get – one from InVision, another from GatherContent. I am very particular about what comes across my inbox, though. I’ll occasionally read Forbes and AdWeek articles.

Thanks Alyson!

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