Your Commerce Health Check

Questions to ask your web agency

Questions to ask your web agency

Published on 2017-07-16 by Mark West

What questions should you be asking before selecting a new web development agency?

If you are interviewing a new eCommerce website design agency you will spend most of the time talking about your needs and business objectives. This is how it should be. But, don’t forget there are other important issues that will affect your decision. I have listed out a selection of the most important questions I am asked and my answers, when I am being interviewed at new business meetings for Remarkable Commerce eCommerce services.

(Q) What recent successes have you had and what contributions did your firm make?

(A) We have helped to develop many successful projects over the past fifteen years. Recently our development for Moss Bros PLC has tripled their sales turnover and made a dramatic difference to their business, profits and return on investment. Click for more details

Also, Yours Clothing has seen its internet sales go from £300,000 per year when we first started working with them five years ago to over £40m in 2015. Again, great for business, profits and return on investment. Click for more details

In fact, most of our clients report similar performance. Most of our clients refer to us as their ‘web team’ because of our close working relationship and our focus on outstanding sales. See our client portfolio and our client references

(Q) How often will I see senior staff and executives from the agency?

(A) Any time you need to. Steve Cart, design director and Ben Brown, technical director look after the design and development processes for each client. Both are company directors with many years of experience and talented work. Each client has full contact with a company director, a senior designer and a senior developer as their dedicated client team.

Importantly, we stimulate close working –so, we like to see clients working directly with directors, designers and developers at their workstations. This builds involvement, morale and good ideas and learning.

Also, you can contact me on any matter at any time. I meet with the entire team regularly to discuss creative ideas and workflow and to ensure that each and every client is receiving the level of service they need. Client service is one of my priorities and everyone in my firm knows how important service is.

(Q) Do you use any type of freelance or outsourced provider to undertake your work?

(A) All design and development work undertaken at Remarkable Commerce is done in-house by our team based at our offices near Nottingham. We do not use any outsourcing providers as we feel that to achieve the success that is paramount to each eCommerce project we undertake, we can only guarantee top levels of response and service by having a highly focused internal team of professionals. Our teams are also fully on hand to have any dialogue with any client should they need to meet and discuss anything at any time during each project.

The only outsourced providers we use are for hosting and broadcasting. Rackspace is our hosting company and Communicator Corporation is our specialist email broadcaster. For several years these agencies have delivered a premier service to us. Importantly, their standards match our own in terms of delivery, response and reliability.

(Q) Do you receive any additional fees, commissions or incentives for external services?

(A) Yes, in some cases we receive a small add-on management fee for a service. We are transparent on these fees and they are pointed out at the time of our invoice to you. Generally, these small add-on fees are for additional work we need to do in order to use the specialists.

(Q) How quickly can I expect a response to any problem or question?

(A) Remarkable Commerce focuses on delivering a rapid response. We will respond to all client communications very quickly, and most of the time our clients can talk with a senior designer or developer immediately. On a few occasions, an immediate response is not possible (say, lunchtime) but on these occasions, you receive a response within the hour.

Most patches or fixes required are completed within the same working day. On occasions, a fix or patch takes longer because of its complexity but even in these situations, you receive a solution within 24 hours and at the very outside, 48 hours.

(Q) What are the central values within your agency and what are your primary goals?

(A) First and foremost, we value our client’s goals and requirements. As an agency, we see our first priority is to achieve outstanding results: sales, service, creativity and so on. This priority is delivered by a combined process of communication, planning, response and talented work by our professional teams.

Also, as we evolve we are always at the forefront of the very latest eCommerce technologies and strategies and are constantly striving to keep our clients at the cutting edge. There is a natural ongoing healthy competition within and between our internal teams to always be the best at what they do and to be up to date with our industry.

I also have a strong belief in my people. They are a happy and motivated creative team. More importantly, all of my people at Remarkable Commerce care a great deal about the company and all invest in each client and project. They care about making each client relationship a success at the personal level.

(Q) When did you last lose a client account and what happened?

(A) Over the last 15 years we have lost a couple of clients but the event, fortunately, is very rare. Most clients have been happy to remain with us for many years.

As I recall, when we lost a client it was because of a set of unfortunate circumstances. For example, I recall from our early days a client was involved in selling shoes online. Unfortunately, they miscalculated their stock by a large amount and as a result, their customer services struggled to contain a negative response from their customer base. Although we didn’t cause the problem, they decided to restructure their management. New management gave us the boot and brought in their agency from their previous jobs.

We have learned what works well on our developments but we do have an occasional failure. When this happens we commit all resources to a solution immediately. Once sorted out, we debrief and learn the lessons. Sometimes the lessons are for us and sometimes for the client. We now have a collective intelligence about what can go wrong and what we can do about it. For example, when we start working with a client we review their stocking policies, fulfilment procedures and other vital areas. Most times, a small change at this early stage can avoid any problems ahead.

(Q) Are you working with any of our competitors?

(A) With a new client we would always make them aware from the very beginning if we are working with any competitors or if there is any restrictive reasons why we wouldn’t be able to do business with them, but this is very unlikely.

We do work for some clients who offer the same product in the same industry and they are happy to use a shared agency like Remarkable Commerce. In the circumstances of a direct competitor, we would guarantee commercial confidentiality on any information that is not in the public domain.

Some long-standing clients have a sole supply agreement and we are always happy to talk about this.

(Q) How much experience do you and your team have to fulfil my requirements?

(A) We currently employ 14 full-time web developers and 6 designers so the collective knowledge and experience of online selling, web and eCommerce technologies is substantial –at least a combined work experience of nearly 200 years of experience! The directors have a combined experience of nearly 50 years. We started when eCommerce started in the mid ’90s.

Each member of our team has individual strengths but shares a passion for the internet, online selling and eCommerce technologies so we are fairly confident we could handle almost any sales or technical request that is presented to us.

(Q) How long have you been trading and is your company financially stable?

(A) We have been trading for over fifteen years and we are financially secure. When we started we had our difficult times of course, but our accounts show that we have evolved into the very healthy and thriving business that we are today. Our accounts are at Companies House and we are always happy to provide our latest annual accounts to our clients.

If any client should require further assurance and security in the unlikely event of any financial difficulty we would be happy to offer an Escrow legal agreement between us which would guarantee they would receive the latest code and facilities to ensure their business could continue seamlessly.

If you want to discuss this article further or want to know more about Remarkable Commerce then email me at [email protected] and I would be happy to assist.