Key Account Managers (KAMs) have a lot to do. But, the focus is always on relationships with your key account customers. When those relationship are flourishing, you’re doing something right. Part of being a KAM is listening to what customers have to say, collecting feedback, seeking information, checking for updates, and general communication with customers. If you run into some new information or feedback while you’re communicating, it’s your job as the KAM to act on it.
What to Do with Customer Feedback
Voice of Customer (VOC) surveys, direct feedback, customer responses, and any other form of communication from a customer is not a dead end. You can’t just receive the information and move on without adjusting and making changes when they’re needed. Feedback is not a one-way street. It’s a bad practice to get new information from your customers and not act on it. So, what do you do?
You need to have a plan in place that gives you a path to follow when you learn new information. It doesn’t have to be a plan that’s set in stone, but a basic process that you follow to help yourself deal with new information in the right way. To take the right actions, you’ll have to make sure you completely understand what your customer means, come up with a strategy for addressing what was mentioned, share that with your team and your customer, and then make it happen.
Get on the Same Page
Understanding is important. You may think you get what they’re saying 100%, but it’s still essential to confirm with them so you don’t miss something. It can help for you to re-phrase what they’ve said and ask them to confirm that it’s what they meant. If not, let them clear it up for you so you can proceed without moving on the wrong information.
The other part of this is figuring out what is motivating that information. For this, follow-up questions will be one of your best tools to get to the heart of the matter. You want to find out what’s going on behind the scenes on their side that’s motivating them to give that specific feedback. Ask open-ended questions until you discover what’s behind the new feedback and updates you’ve been given.
Motivation is useful when you’re formulating a plan. It will help you update how the customer is feeling about the partnership and will potentially show you some of the holes that exist. Motivation also helps you catch onto shifts in the customer’s way of thinking, their focus, or their view of their own business and the outside environment around the business. All of this is great information to help you keep providing as much value as possible and staying ahead of the competition.
Formulate a Plan
Feedback isn’t always negative, but when new information is involved there should always be a response to it, even if that response is just to evaluate how well your current strategy works to address what’s relevant. Plan out your steps to respond to whatever new information you’re being introduced to so you don’t get left behind when there are changes going on with your customer and the industry.
Process what you’ve discovered. If it’s negative, find out where the holes are in your current partnership and observe to see what you may be doing wrong. Look at what’s behind the negative feedback and connect it to the actions you’re taking or not taking right now with that customer account. This is going to help you nail down what you should be doing differently to have a more positive impact.
Even if what you learn isn’t outright negative information, you still need to evaluate what you’re already doing that will relate to the new information as well as what you should be doing to respond. Every new revelation demands some response, whether it’s a change of course or just acknowledging the new development. Ignoring new information is making a choice to remain ignorant of what’s happening, a choice that can quickly catch up to you and put you behind your competitors.
When you’re working as a KAM, you can’t get too comfortable with your position as the strategic partner of any client. Once you’re comfortable, you start taking that partnership for granted. That’s when your competition can find an opening to cut you out and replace you. Don’t be taken by surprise. Always acknowledge and respond to new information you get from your customers. Make a plan.
Spread the Word Internally and with Your Customer
Communication is going to improve this experience for everyone. Make sure that whatever you decide to do or not do, everyone on your team that needs to know will hear about it. They may need to act accordingly and adjust what they’re doing to work with the new strategy. Changing the mindset of your team will help to keep things going in the intended direction without accidentally creating friction within your own organization. Miscommunication has a way of killing morale and causing unwanted chaos.
Your customer also needs to know your plan and what you’ve decided to do about what they’ve told you. Leaving them out of this conversation can make them feel like you’re not taking what they said seriously. They may not see how you’re responding to them if you don’t tell them directly, especially if you’re just making slight changes.
Help your customer to know that you hear them, you understand what they’re saying, and you want to make sure you’re responding appropriately. Talking to your customer about your plan to respond to what they’re said will really help you in maintaining that relationship. They’ll appreciate being kept in the loop and may give you insights about what you’re planning to do.
Don’t Let It Stay Unresolved
Now that you’ve got a plan and you’ve talked it over with the relevant parties involved, make it happen. Decide the actions to take and do them. You want to be able to report back to the customer and update them about what you’ve done and how you’re handling the situation. Follow up until you’re sure everything has been resolved.
There’s nothing that will make your lose face as quickly as telling your customers you’ll do something and then not following through all the way. You can’t do it half way. Finish what you’ve started and show your customer that you’re interested in making sure everything is working in their favor.
Make sure that you’re responding and closing the loop when you’re getting feedback and new information, whether it’s positive, negative, or neutral. Complete the whole entire process instead of stopping at any point or forgetting about it. Don’t let this slip out of your field of vision. Your customer’s trust and the strength of your strategic partnership may depend on how well you handle this type of situation now and in the future.
Customer feedback is an important source of information for you. Honest information from a customer will give you new insights into their company that can help you form a better strategy. Pay attention, plan around it, communicate your response, and make sure you follow through completely. That’s how you take action when your customers give you new feedback.