Client Account Managementby Rus Slater
Client account team
Here you list all the members of the team who have a relationship with or provide a service to this particular client. You should also ensure that there is a brief summary of what each the person does on the client’s behalf.
- Though this may seem too obvious for words, it helps focus the minds of not only the team members, but also their managers.
- It helps everyone to ‘justify’ time spent on this client rather than other clients or operational responsibility.
- It informs everyone who to communicate with when something changes.
- It provides a roster of people who can stand in for someone else in the event that someone leaves or is off duty.
This is especially valid in a matrix-type organisation or when a client account is quite large, is growing rapidly, or is disparate.
Team roles and responsibilities
- Does everybody on this team have the same understanding as to what their role is and others’ roles are?
- Is there an excessive overlap of roles?
- Are there any gaps that are no one’s role/responsibility?
Having this written down will be a handy induction tool for new team members.
Your client-facing approach
It is also worth taking some time to consider your ‘client-facing approach’. Your choice of approach will be led by the size and complexity of the client and your overall relationship/service, but you will need to consider
- Do we have only one point of contact with the client (or a few, designated points) – in other words, is everything to be channelled through one person, or is everyone ‘authorised’ to speak to this client?
- Is there to be one repository of client data, or does everyone just keep their own notes?
Your escalation strategy
The customer doesn’t expect everything will go right all the time; the big test is what you do when things go wrong.
You should also consider
- Who can overrule whom in the event of a request/dispute/argument?
- Who can authorise extra spend, discounts, goodwill gestures, discipline, overtime and so on?
This points may seem a bit negative at this stage, but it is worth setting the ground-rules now; when the irate customer is on the phone shouting demands to ‘speak to your manager’, you won’t want to annoy them even more by not knowing who to pass them on to (or what that person is likely to say in judgement!).
A software support organisation hadn’t considered the detail of its escalation process. A merchant bank suffered a catastrophic loss of IT at a time which was out of hours for the supplier, though the international markets were open. The client was losing an estimated $1million per hour due to its inability to trade. The call centre didn’t know who to contact in their own organisation to authorise immediate high level support. Chaos ensued and, as a result, they not only lost the business, but ended up in court.