Great Experience Required

Unfortunately, poor customer service seems to be a universal experience. If you use a cell phone, own a home or buy a fast-food meal every now and then, then you know what I’m talking about. In the worst case, you may vow to never work with a company ever again (don’t get me started on cell phone providers). The decision to cut ties is rarely because the product wasn’t great. It likely wasn’t even because of the work done or mistake made. Most often, the decision to end the relationship is based on how the service provider handled the issue—or didn’t.

Those negative experiences, along with some exceptionally positive ones, have influenced Spruce’s approach to client relations. When it comes down to it, we’re not really in the marketing business. We’re in the client service business. Obviously, our creative and strategic work are vital. But if a client has a negative experience, it doesn’t matter how good our work is: they won’t be coming back.

As Spruce has grown, we’ve taken time to reflect and purposefully articulate what we want our client experience to be. We’ve anchored our approach on two of Spruce’s core values: accountability & collaboration. On top of that, our account and project team have adopted an additional value: responsiveness.

Our client services team believe in building meaningful relationships by listening, acting as a resource and being kind. But kindness has to be balanced with accountability. We show up. We answer the phone. We respond to emails. Perhaps most important: while we don’t often make mistakes, when we do we own them. We use these opportunities to learn and grow.

Making mistakes is painful and making it right takes effort. In a recent collaboration, Spruce was engaged to design the Canadian Physical and Health Education Competencies report for Physical and Health Education Canada (PHE Canada)—a long-term client. As with all projects of this nature, we began with a creative brief and shared initial concepts with the client. So far so good. However, when we delivered the final document, we missed the mark. Now what? We could get defensive or look for what went wrong. Or we could take a breath and make it right. What would we want to happen if we were the client?

Bring on a significant redesign, adjustments to timelines and juggling of resources—all of which was a small price to pay for preserving a valuable client relationship. We consider ourselves fortunate that PHE Canada granted us the opportunity to reset and deliver something they could be fully excited about. And for us, it was a chance for growth and learning. Cue pride at a job well done.

Mistakes and missteps are going to happen; but it’s how we deal with them that matters most. We believe this is why we have proven to be a trusted partner to some of the country’s, and our community’s, most impactful organizations. Our clients have ambitious goals and it’s our job to help bring them to life, and to manage any hiccups along the way.

If you are looking to make an impact on the communities which you serve, and you are interested in working with an organization that strives to deliver an excellent customer service, we’d love to hear from you. As we get to know each other, we think you’ll love to hear from us too.

Cindy MacBride is the Director of Client Experience at Spruce Creative and has worked in customer-facing roles since her first job working the McDonald’s drive-thru. You can reach Cindy at or connect on LinkedIn.