Friday, October 5, 2012

Account Management - New Reality

Years ago, Account Management meant relationship management.  And, while that is still true today, as a result of all the downsizing that has taken place in corporate America in the last 10 years,  the typical manager and our client contact often wears multiple hats in their company.   As a result, the ability to focus on any one function becomes difficult at best.  This often means that the interaction that we do have with our client contacts is usually to discuss problems, or exceptions to company policy.   These discussions sometimes involve higher cost than was anticipated, which is never a pleasant conversation, particularly if it means having to go to senior management for approval.  

As such and since Account Management is often focused on problem resolution rather than more positive social interaction,  it can be difficult to develop the kind of relationship that was prevalent years ago in our industry.   Our client contacts just don't have the time to attend the two day educational conferences we used to implement, or to attend our industry conferences because many of them do not specialize in our function.  This means that we are often dealing with client contacts that do not fully understand the function they have been asked to manage, which is really problematic.

About the best we can do is hold a series of hour long Webinars, throughout the year and encourage our client contacts to attend.   Occasionally, we can do a lunch or dinner tied to a semi-annual, or annual review; but at least in our industry, the days are long gone when we could establish a more social relationship, centered on the provision of information, that often was really beneficial to later problem solving.   

In many ways technology has made matters worse.   All of our clients and customers can access information at their finger tips, on line, that in the "old days" would have required personal interaction with one of our employees.  Obviously, this trend has positive service aspects; but it also results in less people interaction, which is not necessarily a good thing.  In 2013, we will attempt to remedy some of this disconnect by implementing video connectivity so that our employees can at least have face to face interaction when they do talk to our clients and customers.  

Putting a face to a name, as often as possible, will help with both Account Management and client and customer relations.   Account Management is critical to any business.   To do it effectively, we must face the New Reality of what Account Management means in business today. 

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