How do you keep your clients close? By treating them as part of the family…
We often like to think of our companies as extended families – especially those of us who’ve built the business from the ground up and seen our staff grow and develop as the organisation gets bigger.
Sometimes those relationships run deep. Births and deaths, marriages and break-ups, individual milestones and personal hardships – we celebrate the good times and support each other through the bad. It’s what families do.
But how many of us include our customers as part of that extended family?
Over the last few weeks I’ve talked about the importance of creating a customer journey. Communication is critical. So is having a ‘connected’ business. And the logical extension of that is account management – or as I prefer to think about it, bringing the customer into the fold.
Why? Because without a true understanding of what the customer wants and needs, you cannot hope to serve them well.
Account management is essentially about building a long-term relationship with the client. At it’s most basic, it’s about understanding the customer better – their views on the marketplace, the challenges and pain points they face as a business, and where they see themselves within the industry.
But it’s also about building clarity in our offerings, and matching the right product to the customer needs. It’s about developing trust, credibility, confidence, respect – and above all, loyalty.
As much as anything else, it’s about inviting the customer to become part of your ‘family’ – to share in your successes, and to work through any challenges together, collaboratively, to ensure more successful future outcomes.
At GDS, gone are the days of a salesperson making a sale and then handing over to the back office for fulfilment. Now, all our sales staff, delegate and speaker acquisition teams need to see themselves as not just opening the door to the customer, but having a key role in continuing that journey with them.
How do we do that? Through better communication. Our ‘Meet The Team’ sessions provide an essential opportunity to introduce key contacts on both sides, work through client challenges and establish project goals. Highly structured, they allow us to map the customer journey and identify what success looks like. It’s about creating greater transparency – and accountability – for all.
Because today, account management is about so much more than sales. It’s no longer a simple buyer-seller relationship. We want to be a trusted advisor to our customers – someone who can work with them long-term to solve multiple business challenges, to our mutual advantage. Higher engagement with the client brings greater commitment – and, inevitably, greater results. And that, in turn, means more opportunities to work together in future.
They say you can’t choose your family – but you can choose the people you want to partner with. And if the workplace really is an extended family unit, then we want all our partners to feel loved, including our clients. Account management is an essential part of that. Who said blood was thicker than water?