Managing the Enterprise Customer
Relationship(Part 3): The Account Team
by Craig Bailey
This is the third article in the series "Managing the
Enterprise Customer Relationship," where we discuss how
managed service providers (MSPs) can effectively manage
complex customer relationships while delivering solutions to
the enterprise customer. In this article, we will discuss the
role of the Account Team.
First, a question: what do you consider the definition of the
Account Team? Often the account team is considered to be those
personnel who are compensated for the revenue brought in by
the account (i.e., the sales person, sales engineer, etc.). In
prior editions of the newsletter we discussed the importance
of managing the entire customer experience with your firm. To
do so requires that personnel at your firm, beyond the sales
organization, become part of the account team.
An account team should include every person that is assigned
to the success of the account. In order to effectively manage
the enterprise customer relationship, a company should
strongly consider implementing an "account team" approach,
made up of the following members, each with specific roles and
Member: Executive Partner
Roles/Responsibilities: Knows the Account Team and
customer on a first-name basis. Removes obstacles to customer
success and supports the account team in achieving success.
Key Deliverable: Shares company vision with the
customer. Instills confidence in the customer that the MSP
really cares about them and the customer knows where they are
going and that they are a viable company.
Member: Sales/Account Manager
Roles/Responsibilities: Overall relationship owner.
Key Deliverable: Account plan.
Member: Sales Engineer
Roles/Responsibilities: Overall technical arm of
Account Manager for business development.
Key Deliverable: Configuration diagram – topical layout
of the customer's solution.
Member: Professional Services
Roles/Responsibilities: Responsible for bringing the
solution to "Production."
Key Deliverable: Customer's production solution.
Member: Customer Service Manager
Roles/Responsibilities: Responsible "Operations
Supervisor" - responsible for the customer's ENTIRE service
Key Deliverable: Operations Review Report which
outlines "what we have done for you lately" and provides
recommendations to respond to imminent issues.
Member: Technical Lead
Roles/Responsibilities: Operational soundness of the
customer's configuration. "No one" touches the customer's
configuration without advance notice, counsel and/or approval
from the technical lead.
Key Deliverable: Document outlining how to effectively
manage, operate, maintain and support the customer's solution.
Includes the configuration diagram.
Assignment of the above roles can vary depending on the size
and/or complexity of the account and/or product set. For
example, some roles may be assigned on an "as-needed" basis
(i.e., professional services). Additionally, each role may be
a single person, or one person may own multiple roles.
Implementing an account team that includes all personnel
assigned to the success of the account, representing each
major aspect of the customer's experience with your firm, will
ensure long-term success and profitability of the account.
In the next article, we will discuss how focusing on customer
service as a "product" can facilitate the proactive management
of the customer's entire experience with your firm. If you
would like to learn more about overcoming the common
challenges that managed service providers face with their
enterprise customers, feel free to
View previous articles in this
A Logistics Perspective (Part 5):
Common Pitfalls in Pursuing Preferred Supplier Strategies
by Craig Thompson
In previous segments we have explored the sense and
sensibility of being a preferred supplier, those attributes
that are common to preferred suppliers, and some successful
approaches to reaching that perception with the customer. In
this and the following article, we conclude with concerns,
risks and pitfalls that often haunt programs designed and
implemented to achieve (and remain) preferred supplier status.
We will review these in four main categories: Goal, Customer,
Capability, and Realization.
Probably the best first step in committing an enterprise to
achieving preferred supplier status is having a great
reason. Ideally, every action of an enterprise is taken in
order to realize value – increased volume, margin, reduced
cost, etc. Due to its nature, becoming a preferred supplier
should provide strategic value. I stress this for
several reasons: managing a program that differentiates cost
and service deliverables to a single customer can be
difficult, requires the specific commitment of new and/or
scarce resources and builds and relies on the motivation of
the rank and file.
Strategic value delivers capabilities for increased long-term
profitability, whether through volume or margin growth.
Becoming a preferred supplier in order to 'hitch your wagon to
a star", increase the net new customer growth rate, achieve
lower cost operating capabilities are examples of great
reasons. The idea of having one is to provide the common focus
of both your organization and your customer to ensure the
necessary and appropriate level of commitment to the
gain-sharing that will cement the long-term relationship.
The choice of which customer you are targeting isn't always up
to you. Circumstances are always conspiring to create
opportunities. Organizations that are responsive and flexible
are positioned to recognize and seize those opportunities that
offer strategic value. If these circumstances were created by
a particular customer, their selection is probably intertwined
with the opportunity itself.
One of the most successful programs I witnessed (and was
involved in) was driven by a retailer incurring erratic order
completeness from several manufacturers in a particular
category. This was especially problematic during advertised
specials. Our firm had a solid order delivery track record and
the customer gradually began to rely on us to back-stop these
events at the last minute. Not only did we realize spot volume
gains but this preferred status (in one category) was
leverageable to other products – especially advantageous as
this retailer quickly grew to become the largest in the world!
In cases where you identify in advance how you will achieve
preferred supplier status and then set about identifying the
target customer, you have added one huge hurdle – motivating
the customer to appreciate/reward (however subliminally) your
actions so as to help create the targeted strategic value. Be
sure the customer you choose is able to capture the value your
program will offer. By the way, would this customer have
picked you? Are you already recognized as being a solid
supplier? Are you easy to do business with?
The true value realized from preferred supplier status isn't
the overt recognition or 'pat on the back' or Supplier of the
Month Award of your customer. Rather, it lies in the net value
received. In fact, customers who anoint suppliers as
'preferred' sometimes do so with no other increase in net
value realized or even intended.
Sometimes the customer's stated desires, if fulfilled, won't
necessarily increase overall value at all. This is usually the
case when the customer is merely shifting costs back to the
supplier. Maybe you, the supplier, can create overall value
from this desire (e.g., increasing total inventory
productivity through VMI) but, if not, comply with the desire
knowing that it won't make you a preferred supplier, just a
lower cost one (temporarily).
We will review the final two common areas of pitfall,
Capability and Realization, in the next and final article of
View previous articles in this
Managing the Enterprise
Common Pitfalls in Pursuing Preferred Supplier
White Paper: Preserving a Healthy Customer Base
About Customer Centricity
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Measuring Customer Relationships: What Gets Measured Really Does Get
Managed by Ian Gordon, appearing in the Ivey
Business Journal, complements our current series on Managing the
Enterprise Customer Relationship. On the premise that satisfied customers
will defect but customers with a strong relationship rarely do, the
article highlights the importance of measuring customer relationships,
not customer satisfaction.
section of the Customer
Centricity website for more recommended reading selections.
Preserving a Healthy Customer Base
If you like our articles, you'll love our white papers! Our editing team
has been hard at work generating white papers from the many articles we've
written over the last year.
This issue's featured white paper is "Preserving
a Healthy Customer Base" by
Conventional wisdom has always held that keeping or
renewing customers requires fewer resources than landing new business. At
the same time, companies are finding it increasingly difficult to preserve
the base of customers they have. This white paper presents eight simple
rules for preserving a healthy customer base.
section of the Customer
Centricity website for more white paper selections.
About Customer Centricity, Inc.
We strengthen overall company performance through
better service delivery and management.
We boost efficiencies in front-line customer service and technical support
teams, order processing, fulfillment, field service, logistics and other
key operations functions.
In short, we align the resources of your organization to exceed your
customers' expectations in the most effective and efficient manner
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