We are all excited when we get a new account at JEB! We cannot wait to show them our capabilities through our work and processes to maximize their program in order to realize growth. However, how many of you have had rough clients, upset or angry, because the expectations weren’t clear and they never fully trusted you and your team? I think we all have been there and unfortunately, I found out the hard way many years ago. That experience inspired me to take the appropriate measures in setting the proper tone in account management. You have to strive each day to … earn trust from your client.
The question that I ask my team often is, “Are we delivering the best service we possibly can to our clients?” The first few weeks are the most crucial in your relationship with your new client. During this timeframe you have to strive each day to “earn that business” and/or earn trust from your client. There is nothing worse than dealing with tough clients that has a significant impact on you as the manager. Typically, managers have an emotional state tied to their work and therefore dealing with very emotional clients can impact your attitude, your work ethic, and others around you, which may lead to a company culture problem. What you want to do is get in front of the situation, and set the tone from the beginning of the engagement. You are a manager for a reason – you know the processes and you’re a proven veteran, so be confident in your leadership on this account.
This is key. You must have good communication in order to effectively manage your client, their expectations, and the type of work that you and your team are doing. Be clear and transparent. During the first week or two, start to establish your credibility as the manager. You are a manager for a reason – you know the processes and you’re a proven veteran, so be confident in your leadership on this account. Establish your experience and trustworthiness and discuss examples of what worked or what hasn’t worked, or provide insights to your tactics and the strategies you want to implement and why. If you don’t understand a request or information supplied by the client, just ask. If you don’t seek clarity in the beginning, then there will be a disconnect between you and the client, and you’ll start to deliver less than stellar service to the account that you manage, which will lead to a horrible experience for your client, contributing to a stressful work environment for you and your team.
Definition: “creating or controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding to it after it has happened.”
There have been a few instances in my account management experience when a client has been frustrated with my management, and let me have it in a weekly call. I asked myself, “What could I have done differently to avoid that experience?” The answer was simple. Be proactive versus reactive. But what does that mean? How can I give my client peace of mind that a well-seasoned manager has everything under control and he/she can trust the work that I am doing, and allow me to do the work I need to do? Then a light bulb moment happened. I realized our clients pay a premium for the work that my team does on their behalf, and they want to know that the right work is being done, in a timely fashion, and that they will see a beneficial return on their investment. So, right off the bat, the client needs to feel comfortable with the relationship and the onus is on you to prove to them that they made the best decision in choosing to work with you and your company. For instance, when I have a client call scheduled every Friday the discussion centers on Monday through Thursday. The big question for them that needs to be answered is what I have accomplished for them during those days. I’m not physically there working side by side with my client, so how can he/she trust the work that I’m working to their benefit since I am an outsourced agency working with them? You see what I am getting at? Go above and beyond, over-deliver, and provide them the peace of mind that they hired the best. What proactive tasks has their account management team accomplished? Did we go above and beyond with client communication and updates out of the blue? Here are some things you can do to be proactive:
- If your call is on Friday, send a proactive email update on what you and your team have been doing to move the needle or any admin-intensive tasks on the following Tuesday.
- Call your client randomly and give them quick updates on what you are doing – on a Wednesday or Thursday – even though your regularly scheduled call is a day or two later, a phone call out of the blue shows that you have a sincere interest in what you are doing, and over-delivering on the service you are giving to your client. One time, I called and purposefully left a voice-mail to one of my clients 29 times in 2 months. He didn’t know how to listen to his messages and when he finally got it set up he listened to everyone one of them and was blown away about my willingness to call him out of the blue with updates. That contract was supposed to be for 6 months, but now has continued for almost 2 years!
That’s how you win! You go above and beyond, over-deliver, and provide them the peace of mind that they hired the best company to manage and grow a portion of their business. This not only keeps your client happy, but also gives you a stress free environment where you can work and be at your best, focusing on revenue generating activities that lead to long client retention. What you have to ask yourself is, what kind of experience am I creating for my client? You must have a certain swagger to manage accounts – whether they’re big retailers or smaller accounts. Sometimes the smaller accounts are the ones questioning your every move. But you have to be as solid as oak. You are the subject matter expert. They hired your company to manage and grow their side of the business, and the company gave you the account to manage it effectively. You know what that means? It means that they have the faith and the upmost respect for you and rely on your skills to get the job done. So be confident! Be the subject matter expert you are, and when the client gives you a little push back. Assess the overall situation and professionally push back to him/her and provide specific examples where you might be correct in a particular situation. The moment you manage out of fear is the moment you are welcoming a stressful, uncomfortable work environment that may lead you dreading coming into work which negatively affects those around you, overall company culture, and puts you in a bad place in your company. You’re a seasoned vet and were promoted to manager status for a reason, so reflect on that, be confident and be enthusiastic about the career you’ve built. There are several things you can do to manage accounts successfully. What you have to ask yourself is, what kind of experience am I creating for my client? How can I ensure the best client experience and longevity with the client? Being proactive, communicating effectively, and being confident are just some things that will make a big difference in giving your client the best possible experience when working with you and the company you represent.