[I’m delighted to share this excellent post by new Staffing Talk contributor, Susan Wurst, who recently joined TempWorks as VP of Account Management. She originally wrote it as an internal email to our employee base.
Susan is one of several highly seasoned executives that David Dourgarian, Acting-CEO of TempWorks, recruited recently from one of our international staffing software competitors to help manage the extremely rapid growth he’s achieved in recent years.
Susan’s topic, Account Management, obviously lends itself equally well to the staffing business where customer empathy means everything.
How to Win Business with Account Management
by Susan Wurst
I have met many of you over the past week, and had a lot of conversations with people explaining why I was brought on board at TempWorks . I wanted to give a little bit more explanation as the concept of this new department “Account Management” is a paradigm shift for everyone here.
….but first just a little about me. I worked at eEmpACT/Bond for the last 15 years. I started there in 1996 as a trainer, and had a progression of positions there that included (and this is not an all-encompassing list) head of Implementation, heading up the sales department (for 4 long years) and my most recent position overseeing Implementation and Training, Support, IT/Installations, and Account Management.
Customer Perception Is Always Right
Prior to that I worked as an HR Manager for a security company (it’s kind of like working in staffing but your employees have guns on payday) for 3 years and spent 4 years working a staffing desk for a national staffing company in Minneapolis.
When we started the Account Management department at eEmpACT it too was a change for everyone there. But as the department got off the ground and people saw the advantages it provided for both the customers and the employees, it became very successful.
My philosophy is that the customer isn’t always right, but their perception is.
What Is Account Management?
The Short Explanation
Account Management is a department that serves as a focal point for all customers for all non-support related items and issues. An Account Managers job is 50% customer service and 50% sales.
Account Management’s goal is to ensure that our customers are happy with their experience with TempWorks
The Long Explanation
Account Management’s goal is to ensure that our customers are happy with their experience with TempWorks as their chosen technology and services partner. This goal is achieved by using a multi-faceted relationship building approach. The Account Manager serves as an ombudsman for the customer.
Each Account Manager is assigned a group of customers they are responsible for. When an Account Manager is first assigned an account, they make contact with the customer, introduce themselves, explain their role at TempWorks in relation to the customer and jointly determine how often the customer would like proactive contact from the Account Manager. Based upon the agreed upon follow-up schedule the Account Manager will do routine check in calls to determine their level of satisfaction and any areas of dissatisfaction, and will react appropriately. The size of the company will determine how many and who specifically at the account the Account Manager works with. Multiple levels of routine contacts are generally the practice.
Proactive Event Driven
As the relationship builds the Account Manager will become familiar with the operation/needs/etc. of the customer. From time to time a new feature, service or product may become available that the Account Manager suspects the customer will benefit from. The Account Manager will reach out to the customer and educate them on this new feature, service or product and follow up as appropriate.
This may sound contradictory, however, it is an important part of Account Management. This type of contact is initiated to the customer by the Account Manager but is instigated by an event that was identified by another TempWorks employee. An example of this might be a Support Person gets off the phone with a customer and the result of the call is such that the support person could tell that the customer was not happy. The support person in this case would email or talk to the Account Manager, fill them in on the details/refer them to the documented support ticket. The Account Manager would then contact the customer to see if there is any way they can help outside the scope of normal support. In many cases they may not be able to do anything, but the customer is left with the feeling that while we can’t do anything for them in this particular instance, TempWorks still cares about their happiness. Another example that I have already seen in my days here, is someone is talking to a customer and during the course of that conversation the customer expresses interest in possibly upgrading. After the conversation, an email is sent to their Account Manager and the Account Manager begins the conversations with the customer.
As the focal point (Ombudsman) for the customer; any issues the customer feels need escalation to their Account Manager will go through Account Management. The Account Manager is responsible for researching the issue, developing a solution with the help of appropriate internal TempWorks resources when necessary, communicating the proposed solution to the customer and ensuring the solution is executed. If no solution is available to the customer, the Account Manager is responsible for communicating this to the customer.
Maximizing Revenue Potential
Another important part of Account Management is to identify and act upon additional revenue opportunities that exist with the customer base. Examples of this would be upgrades, add on modules, additional licenses, custom reports, training. The Account Managers take the approach of solution selling to the customer base. This is accomplished through identifying the need and presenting the solution to the customer. Account Management will also work to proactively create and market revenue events to the customers such as specialized training classes, additional module announcements etc.
What Part You Play With Account Management
Many employees have existing long standing relationships with customers. The advent of the Account Management department is not designed to negate those relationships, as they are an important part of customer retention. Account Management is designed to serve as a focal point for the customers so they don’t need to guess where they need to go within TempWorks for something. Depending on your role in the company, the ”something” may eventually end up with you, but by having Account Management as the “go to” for the customer; it will ensure that customer issues and requests are directed to the proper place. This will serve the customer better as it achieves faster resolution, and will serve you better as you will be able to focus on the core competencies of your job thereby increasing your productivity.
Initially, the customers will want to continue to reach out to the people they are used to working with. It is important that while still maintaining those relationships, you start to direct the customer to their Account Manager for issues. By doing this you will be ensuring that the Account Manager has the opportunity to also build a relationship with the customer.
When working with a customer on non-support related items, it is important that all conversations are documented in the customer database. Account Management needs to see activity with a customer, and adversely other TempWorks employees need to see conversations and activity that Account Management is having with the customer.
Additional Account Management Objectives
Enhancement Suggestions: As the customer relationships are developed, the Account Managers will be in a position to be the “voice” of the customer base. Suggestions for small and large product enhancements will be initiated by Account Management based on customer feedback both single event driven and through trending.
References: Due to the day to day involvement with the customers, Account Management will be in an ideal position to identify good reference accounts, approach the customers regarding their willingness to be a reference, and maintain the reference list in conjunction with the Sales department.
Market Product and Services To The Customer Base: Account Management is responsible for marketing new and existing products and services to the customers through email marketing campaigns as well as direct contact.
I’m excited for the opportunity to start with a blank slate here and create a department and processes that will improve not only our customers perception of us but also make the jobs of the people who work here easier and more streamlined.