Dos and Don’ts: How To Respond When You Drop The Ball For A Customer

As a key account manager, the question is not if you are going to drop the ball with a customer, but when you are going to drop the ball. Problems and mistakes are going to happen. It is your job as a key account manager to ensure that you properly manage these challenges and maintain your customer’s trust. Whether or not a problem is your fault, there are dos and don’ts that you should heed as a key account manager.

Below are five things that you should not do when a problem arises:

  1. Don’t overreact.

Maintaining your composure as a key account manager is critical. Your customers view you as their trusted resource, and it is important that you resolve problems calmly and promptly.

  1. Don’t spend too much time discussing why the problem occurred.

Your customers rarely have any interest in knowing why a problem happened. Their primary concern is making sure that the problem is rectified as soon as possible.

  1. Don’t lay blame on another department or company representative.

Blaming a problem on another department or person is unprofessional. Even worse, it suggests that there are deep-rooted problems within your organization. This can raise major red flags among key accounts.

  1. Don’t procrastinate or ignore the problem.

The last thing you want is an important customer who suspects that you may be withholding information or bad news. Failure to immediately notify your customer about delays or other problems can actually exacerbate the problem.

  1. Don’t over-promise when telling your customer how the problem will be resolved.

When a customer is angry or frustrated, it can be tempting to say anything to calm them down. You may be tempted to promise the moon to get back in your customer’s good graces. However, remember that you can actually make the situation worse if you over-promise and then fail to deliver on that promise.

In addition to following the list of don’ts outlined above, there is a short list of steps to take to ensure that you handle problems professionally as a key account manager. Here are five things to do to help you maintain your client’s trust after a problem has occurred:

  1. Do recognize that there is no such thing as a perfect key account manager.

The first and most important step in handling mistakes and problems is realizing that they are going to occur. Sometimes they may be your fault but other times problems occur due to circumstances beyond your control. Regardless of how or why problems develop, you must be prepared for them to arise and have a plan in place.

  1. Do proactively reach out to your customer as soon as a problem arises.

Getting ahead of a problem is vital to your ability to maintain the trust of a key account. Outline the specific steps you are taking to address the problem and share your plan with your customer. Your prompt response and creation of a plan will help your customer feel confident that the problem will be resolved.

  1. Do offer your customers a token of appreciation for their patience.

Key accounts deserve tangible reminders that you appreciate them—especially after their business has been negatively impacted by problems stemming from your organization. For instance, you can offer your customer a complimentary product or a discount on their next order.

  1. Do focus your efforts on preventing the same problem from arising in the future.

After you contact your customer and develop a plan to resolve their problem, you need to focus your efforts on prevention. You will need to trace the origin of the problem to determine how it unfolded and exactly what measures you can take to prevent its recurrence.

  1. Do seek the guidance of an expert in key account management.

The best step you can take to help resolve customer problems is to enlist the services of a professional key account management expert. By seeking the guidance of an industry expert, you will learn how to develop a strategic plan that will help you handle problems like a seasoned professional.



Curious to see how you can take your Key Account Management skills to the next level? Download this helpful ebook on how to create powerful action plans for your key accounts or sign up for a demo of Kapta.

CEO at Kapta
Alex Raymond is the CEO of Kapta.