Business & Management, Top Tips, Hints & Advice

Lessons in Client Management and How to Win at Customer Service

Written by Rajal Prajapat on 22nd May 2019

Having worked in the digital landscape for many (not saying how many) years now I’ve come across many crucial roles that are pivotal to the functioning of a successful digital agency. PPC technicians, content writers, planning and strategy specialists, social media managers, ad operations, SEO specialists, business development…the list goes on!

One role that has now become a part of the day-to-day management of our clients here at Anicca is the account manager role, or as we label it here at Anicca  ‘Client Development Manager’. Yes, this is your “go-to” point of contact, and on most occasions your first point of call for any queries or concerns!

Some of the primary requirements of the account manager are to ensure everything runs smoothly, on time and to budget! In order to succeed at doing this it is crucial that you, as an account manager can balance the needs of the customer and the objectives of the account, while providing a high level of customer service at all times. Here at Anicca the account manager acts as the interface between the client and technical teams.

An account manager focuses on maintaining the agency-client relationship by working with the client to develop a strategy that will fulfil the client’s needs. Some account managers are analytical geniuses. Others are charming extroverts. Regardless of style, there are effective skills account managers should possess. The most effective account managers possess a wide variety of skills ( Source Hubspot).

 

What makes good customer service?

In 2018 we were humbled to have received an award for Excellence in Customer Service at the Leicester Business Awards by the East Midlands Chamber.

We pride ourselves in achieving this award and all the staff here at Anicca that helped pave the way to success.

What are the possible benefits of providing good customer service?

The Client Development Team was built to help manage and balance the increased demands in consultancy and account management required by new larger clients.

The team has three major functions:

  • To ensure the quality of the delivery of marketing services for Anicca clients.
  • To ensure the campaigns are managed smoothly and efficiently ensuring customer satisfaction
  • To ensure that client contracts are renewed/ re-negotiated within a timely manner, and extra services offered when required by for the client

 

What is the importance of this team/role to your business?

  • Focus on ensuring clients are seeing the benefits of their investment, the client development team are also responsible for managing the renewal of the contract.
  • Clients have a support mechanism in place which ensures their time with Anicca runs smoothly.
  • The team has been pivotal in increasing the amount of new business projects introduced to and won from existing clients

 

What are the critical things to get right?

Providing valuable and supportive customer service to clients is imperative, what Anicca has been able to do;

  • Understanding the client’s holistic needs is key in ensuring the services provided are valuable and relevant. This is essential when working with a multi-channel approach.
  • Regular reporting of performance figures and return is key for clients to measure the success of their marketing and agency. Clients require clear understanding of all metrics and what they mean for their business. This may include providing insight into assisting and last click channels and how they impact the the overall customer journey. A client manager must have an understanding of this when asked this type of difficult question.
  • Providing good performance and customer service will only help to increase the average value of contract and length of relationship as the relationship continues.
  • Increase the amount of new business opportunities granted to existing clients.
  • Keeping regular contact with clients in order to ensure the delivery of a good service, but also to keep up to-date with news about the client organisation, as well as update clients about any business changes and new service offerings from the agency itself.

How to effectively manage both the needs of your client and the needs of the agency?

  • Focus on maintaining the agency’s client relationship by working with the client to fulfil their needs. What can you or your agency offer to continue to meet the needs of the client and help achieve their overall objectives from all angles?
  • A good account manager is knowledgeable and understands the goals and priorities of the client. It is key to understand the client’s industry and become familiar with the products or services they offer. Actively identify new areas of growth that will benefit the client based on what they have to offer.
  • Understand the businesses core values and potential. What is the most important objective for your client? This may not always be a measurable performance indicator but find out ultimately what success looks like to them.
  • Build a strong relationship –  It is important that clients can trust you as their account manager, building a strong and genuine relationship is imperative. This can sometimes take time and requires maturing the relationship. Being open and honest is key, ensuring deadlines and expectations on both parts are realistic and manageable. Trust is a massive factor in keeping clients loyal, even at the hardest of times.
  • A good account manager is also able to promote the benefits of the company’s products and services in an articulate (‘non salesy’) way to the client and promote the benefits of the services where required.
  • Be a strong Communicator. – Strong communication is crucial when it comes to managing relationships. You need to be able to present eloquently to large and small groups, network and establish rapport with ease weather this be face-to-face, on the phone or over email. Detailing reports and preparing meeting notes is necessary to the smooth running of account management.
  • Regular communication means expectations, priorities, and goals are clear to everyone. Ensure there is an open line of communication between yourself and the client. No one likes surprises.This also means internal communication with the team. Account managers are also required to know where each team is in executing their tasks and how campaigns are performing. Getting back to clients promptly or at least acknowledging their questions also keeps things running smooth.

When these skills are combined effective account managers can grow accounts, increase investment and lengthen client contract lifetime. All of this while ensuring the needs of the client are met and managing a smooth and positive long-term relationship.

 

Measure your successes!

Here at Anicca we thrive in providing great customer service. This is evidenced by the positive reviews left by our clients.

The length of our client relationships is also a big indicator of our loyalty and retention rates, indicative of Anicca providing a quality service and good value for clients. By 2017, 50% of our clients had been with the agency for two years and more, with 11% of clients choosing to stay with us for over 5 years.

We’ve found that by providing good quality services and relationships to our clients we get rewarded with long term customer loyalty.

However, managing accounts is not for everyone. You might be a ‘techy’ type or creative thinker, but do you have the passion and patience for people and customer service, as well as the appetite to learn and support the client in a wide range of business needs?

I’ve developed a passion for the industry, experience in account management, developed my interpersonal skills, and have the pleasure of managing and working with clients on a face to face level.

Account management is hectic, stressful and to me it’s worth it!