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The Challenges of Being a Director of Account Management

How does a Director of Account Management excel in their role? With C-level pressure to produce predictable revenue and retain key customer accounts while managing the everyday pressure of leading Account Managers, it can be an incredibly fulfilling yet stressful experience. The challenge for the Director of Account Management in any organization comes down to one key roadblock: visibility.

The traditional approach to managing a group of account managers includes a lot of communication between team members. There are the weekly status meetings, the 1-on-1’s, and the Quarterly Business Reviews with the customers; all of these functions exist to promote visibility to the health of the account. Most frequently, there are quick interactions in the hall that include common questions like, “Hey John, how’s it going with Customer X?” Quickly, John responds, “Oh, it’s going well. They’re happy, so I’m happy.”

Little do you know John just had a phone call with Customer X that morning solving a communication breakdown over one of your key deliverables. All was smoothed over by the time you saw him in the hall, so all was well.

Solving problems is paramount to any service business. Visibility into those problems and their solutions is what matters.

So, how does a Director of Account Services or Director of Account Management stay up to date with all these interactions? One approach is to have meetings and lots of them. The other is to create a culture of transparency, but this breaks down the second you are out of the office. In recent years, there has been a huge focus on KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) to quantify the health of business functions. This is definitely a third approach.

But, what about all of the subjective dialogue, the circumstances, and most importantly, how this all relates to our customers’ goals?

3 Questions to Start Asking Today to Begin to Quantify the Health of your Accounts

1. Do your Account Managers have a documented list of the key goals and what success looks like for their client?
This is crucial to becoming the trusted advisor that you’re aspiring to be, but not all account managers have captured this in writing from their client since it was anecdotally shared when the sales team handed off the account.
Achieving these goals is where you become extra “sticky” to that client and retain the relationship.

2. Do you have the contractual agreements documented and on display in a synthesized manner to remind your team about your commitments?
Sadly, these elements can be buried in 30-page agreements and left alone until the Quarterly Business Review arrives, or until the customer asks about that one small thing that you promised to do on page 22 in subsection ii.

Document these in short form and have them on top of your mind before every weekly call and every internal discussion about that account.
Achieving these goals is what ensures that your organization delivers on what it promised.

3. Do you have internal goals related to the profitability, service level, and probability of retaining that key account?
While frustrations may soar around the accounts that seem the most high-maintenance or the most taxing on internal teams, rarely are these frustrations quantified outside of late nights, long hours, and rolling of eyes when a clients name surfaces.

As the Director of Account Management, you are left to navigate these conversations and address the squeakiest wheels first. These conversations are founded in the internal experiences (and frustrations) associated with the account, not necessarily the account’s profitability.

Practically, these frustrations can all be managed with tools and spreadsheets and better monitored from the road with the right systems in place. Start by asking the right questions to quantify problems and frustrations at your next meeting with your team, and then document them in a way that your entire team can reference and work to improve together.

Clear insight into an account’s overall health and potential risk areas allows Account Managers to be more proactive. According to the Gartner Group, a 5% increase in customer retention can increase business profits by 25% to 125%.* The more proactive and informed an Account Manager can be, the better chance of avoiding account churn while fully satisfying customers.

Kapta exists to measure crucial account management factors and quantify them in overall account health scores. Important factors, such as customer goals, agreed-upon deliverables, and internal goals for best customer satisfaction, combine into one centralized dashboard that can be viewed in real time. Our account health dashboard is just one of a myriad of benefits we provide to our clients.

*Source: Gartner Group and “Leading on the Edge of Chaos,” Emmett C. Murphy and Mark A. Murphy, 2003.

CEO at Kapta
Alex Raymond is the CEO of Kapta.