Good businesses are built on good relationships; but maintaining and nurturing these relationships is easier said than done, especially in the business world, where the competition for clients is extreme and loyalty is not easily earned.
So how can you stand out? Put forward account management!
Account management can be perceived as a post-sales role that focuses on strengthening client relationships. The 2 primary objectives of Account Managers are:
- retain clients’ business, and
- grow those opportunities
These objectives can be accomplished by understanding what are the clients’ goals and assisting the clients to achieve them. To summarize, account management can be perceived as relational whereas sales is transactional.
Who is an Account Manager?
The account manager is the linkage between the clients and the sales and customer experience teams for whom he/she acts as the dedicated point of contact. They aim to have long-term contact and good relationships with clients throughout the engagement as opposed to a sales role which is short-term and mainly focuses on getting the client onboard.
Account managers are often referred to as “farmers” because they work on building a partnership with the client by tending to the client relationship and nurturing long term growth.
However, handling clients and building a strong relationship with them is not an easy job. What often gets overlooked in this process and there are various approaches an account manager takes to ensure that the customer experience for a client is smooth while at the same time, the company should not be undergoing any unfavourable circumstances while appeasing the client.
Once the sales team converts a lead, account managers are the main point of contact for the clients. They are essential for smoothing communication with sales and customer support, resolving conflicts with the client, and understanding the client’s goals and pain points in order to best meet their needs.
Account Management for Successful Business Relationships
The account management team has to take up various initiatives to strengthen relationships with clients and ensure a flawless experience of engagement for them. They do this through certain measures as well as documentation processes. Here are some of them:
- Milestone Acceptance Document: A document which is shared with the client at the end of every milestone to ensure the targeted work for a particular milestone is completed and delivered to the client, and also, the client is happy with the deliverables
- Closure Document: This documents only used and shared with the client once the project gets over and we plan to end the relationship for good
- Project Retrospection: A timely sync up with the engineering/designing team for each project to have a better understanding of the project at a deeper level and to ensure that the internal teams have a platform to voice their feedbacks for the projects
- Prior Mid-term Review: A feedback taken from the client before asking for a clutch review
How does an Account Manager act as the bridge between the partner and the team?
As simple as these functions may seem, actually getting them done is a task in itself. Right from reviewing the milestone deliverables with the client and ensuring that the client is truly satisfied to actually closing the project and asking for feedback, a lot of effort needs to be put in and this is where building relationships with clients plays a pivotal role. If you treat the client as your friend and develop a harmonious relationship with him/her, the client will definitely consider putting a good word for you around.
The account manager’s job is not just limited to having a good relationship with the client but he/she needs to have a better relationship with the engineering team to understand their work as well as their shortcomings. A good account manager will always ensure that the engineering team works efficiently to resolve issues or conflicts with the client and the engineering team in a timely manner.
In today’s world, the success of a long term business is highly dependent on creating positive customer experiences and increasing customer retention as repeat customers are more profitable than new leads. Happy clients tend to keep coming back to the company and also refer other prospective clients to the business over time which in turn helps to reduce the operating costs.
I hope this article has helped you to understand why building a dynamic account management team is crucial for driving client experience.