Over my career in account management so far, I have learned some core fundamentals of managing an account well.
You might read some of the points and think they are obvious, but it’s surprising how many people forget the basics the further up the career ladder they go. We must always remember our basic client management skills, after all, these are the things that keep our clients coming back to us.
1. Ask questions, lots of questions.
Even if they seem like silly questions, ask. It can be awkward if you save the questions for another time or worse, make up the answers to your questions and provide an incorrect solution (surprisingly, I’ve seen this done before!). This will cause delays that which your client will not thank you for! Questions show that you understand the client and it demonstrates your genuine interest in their business.
2. Be transparent and honest.
Don’t promise something if you’re not 100% that you can deliver. My general rule of thumb is to liaise with the production team to ensure a deadline is achievable with the current workload before promising on deadlines. Being a yes-man or woman at the expense of the agency can put unnecessary strain on your colleagues. This means that when a last-minute urgent job crops up, one which you need your team to enthusiastically jump on to get through, they may not be so keen to do if there has been pressure put on them in the past for an unnecessary deadline.
Also, if you’re approaching your deadline and you don’t think you’re going to hit it, be honest with the client. You’ll earn respect and trust by telling them in advance of any delays, managing their expectations to ensure that they’re not let down.
3. Pick up that phone.
When I first started out after university, I absolutely did not want to call my clients. I was worried that I would say the wrong thing or that I would feel under pressure to promise something that I may not be able to fulfil (see point 2).
Over the years, I have learned that picking up the phone is not only the best way to get the answers that you need instantly, it also helps build the ever-important client relationship. Having a relationship with your clients where you get the chance to talk about how their weekend was, or have they watched the latest Doctor Foster, helps build a rapport. It adds the personable approach that a lot of companies are losing. I find that clients find you more genuine and approachable via the phone or face to face, as the tone of voice within an email will often be misread.
As for issues, they’re much better coming across via phone or even better – a meeting. You’ll be respected for your ability to talk through the issue and to come to a quick, viable solution.
4. Be pro-active.
A good Account Manager not only does what is asked of them by the client, they keep their eyes and ears peeled for new opportunities for their client. I talk to my clients about upcoming projects to see if we can offer any insights or provide any extra support within these projects.
I also keep on top of what my client’s competitors are doing and research the latest trends in my clients’ market so that I have the understanding to talk about such things confidently.
I might come across an article that I think, ‘Oooh, this client might find that interesting’, and I’ll send it across to them. When I do this I’m not expecting a response (although a thank you is always nice), I genuinely just want to share my findings with my clients and hopefully, they’ll find it interesting/helpful. These are things that I will do sporadically to add value to the account. It’s not something I’d want to do often enough that the client would come to expect it, but much like asking questions, it demonstrates an understanding of the clients’ sector.
5. Strengthen your communications.
In all communications, whether that be internally or to a client, be as clear as possible to ensure that there is no room for misinterpretation. For example, a client can easily misunderstand a quote if it is not broken down effectively. This will usually come back to bite later!
This is extremely important internally too. If you require amends to a piece of artwork, for example, be clear about what you want to change, this will save time in the long run.
There are no downfalls to being a strong communicator, you hopefully just eliminate some questions by answering them before they are asked! Win-win.
You’ll probably have guessed that I am very client–focussed. Of course, there are demands that I must meet internally but ultimately clients are the ones who keep any company’s wheels turning. They are the ones that need the most attention if you’re going to keep growing.
This is my first time writing an article, so I hope you found it an interesting read!
Victoria is a Senior Account Manager at Matrix having worked previously at other agencies including McCann and Inspired Thinking Group.