How account managers can use technology to retain clients

April 23, 2019 -  By
Screenshot of property stats (Photo: Kevin Kehoe)

Technology can help streamline the process of performing site walks. (Photo: Kevin Kehoe)

Account managers (AMs) have a tough job. It’s hard enough to handle customers, but the job becomes impossible if you’re poorly organized despite all your hustle. Hustle is important, but a system is essential to become an A-plus account manager.

There are three metrics that define an A-plus AM: contracts under management, upsell rate and retention rate (see chart). Why does this matter? Because retention is the single most important driver of net profit.

There are three essential tasks to produce those metrics, though an AM’s job is more than three tasks. But these three are critical and require technology to perform them productively and effectively:

1. Responding to issues and requests;

2. Anticipating needs by performing site walks or property reviews; and

3. Recommending services by proposing fixes and enhancements.

Responding — Issues and requests

You must respond, coordinate and document issues and requests. You can use Post-it notes, calendars and emails, but with this method, it’s unlikely you can keep up with the volume of requests and their dispensation without dropping the ball.

Every time that happens, your customer loses a little faith and confidence in you, which he or she remembers at renewal time. You need technology that can assist in the process so you can respond quickly and accurately with all the information required. This system builds confidence with the customer. Simple dashboard reports linking people and calendars can dramatically improve productivity and the customer’s experience.

Chart: Kevin Kehoe

Chart: Kevin Kehoe

Anticipating — Site walks and reviews

You must anticipate customer needs before they bring them to you. After all, that’s why they hired you. Once upon a time, paper forms and spreadsheets could document a site walk. Today, clients want more. They want pictures, locations, analyses and ideas. The time it takes to document those needs for one site walk is significant. Multiply it by 70 sites four times a year, and you get the picture. Again, technology can provide the tool to speed up the process, archive the results and have them available for proposal writing and renewal and budget discussions.

Recommending — fixes and enhancements

You must be able to propose, price and close on enhancements efficiently. An A-plus AM will create a large number of proposals to do the job. The customer does not want to wait. In fact, the longer the wait from discussion to proposal delivery, the lower the close rate, meaning you will have to bid more to achieve the upsell goal. And even that’s not the real issue. The real issue is the customer’s perception of your service and capabilities, which he or she will consider at renewal time. In this most critical task, use technology to reduce the time and effort required to deliver a proposal. You can’t do that with office-bound software and spreadsheets.

The successful AM uses technology to reduce the time required to respond and the time required to perform the critical tasks that affect and shape the customer’s experience. When you can integrate the performance of critical tasks with technology that improves customers’ experiences, they will have little reason to look elsewhere because of something as mundane as a lower price.

This article is tagged with , and posted in 0419

About the Author:

Kevin Kehoe, a longtime landscape industry consultant, is managing partner at Aspire Software.

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