Let’s use our future vision to see how software will improve customer service. This is important because customer service, not software, provides a competitive advantage. But, the right software can provide the platform you need to out-compete the other guy by delivering better service.
When it comes to service, your account managers are your most valuable assets. They are customer service personified. What the account managers do, how they do it and when they do it accounts for your clients’ experiences. Superior service produces results measured in dollars: renewals, referrals, upsells… not to mention goodwill and satisfaction.
Of course, we all want A+ account managers. The challenge is that there are only so many A+ account managers out there. There is a far larger pool of solid B+ account managers who, with the right tools, might perform like A+ account managers.
Is this possible? It is.
Breaking Down an A+ Account Manager
Let’s start with what makes an A+ account manager so valuable. In my experience observing them, there are five things at which they excel: time management, salesmanship, anticipation, responsiveness and economics.
- Time management: This is the most critical skill because it provides the structure for the other four. Account managers are the busiest people in the company … and often the least productive. This is bad for you and worse for the customer because service suffers. Clients end up waiting for everything.
- Salesmanship: This ability is the key to communication. What retains customers is their relationship with the people in the company—that relationship is built and maintained by account managers. The ability to listen and recommend increases the service value an account manager provides.
- Anticipation: Providing communication and information that anticipates needs and prevents issues increases the service value your account manager provides. Remember the last time you sat on a delayed flight waiting for some news from the pilot? That’s how customers feel when timely communication is missing.
- Responsiveness: Providing speedy feedback with fact-based solutions and multiple options increases the service value they provide.
- Economics: Providing guidance on money decisions by demonstrating where and how the customer can best invest and spend their landscape dollars increases service value.
The key to increasing service is communication. The key to communication is information. Customers require it. They want to know when services and proposals will be delivered, when problems will be resolved, how their property should best be managed and how much it will cost. A+ account managers always seem to have the answers and an intuitive feel for communicating those answers when they are needed. B+ account managers can do that, too, with assistance from your software systems.
Providing accurate and timely information is central to both your customers’ experience and the AM’s performance, productivity and morale. Today, for too many account managers, the information the customer needs is not easily available—at least not without making the client wait while looking in several places for files, emails, documents, and spreadsheets.
How do you change this inefficient situation, which is frustrating for both customer and account manager, and make information available in one place all the time? Systems. Systems that today’s cloud-based integrated mobile technology can provide when you marry them with process and your culture. Let’s look at what I mean using an example of essential information in a single system:
All the essentials need to be on a smart device the AM uses in the field. This is just like the technology major package/delivery companies use to manage routes and tracking every day—except the platform above is designed for landscape AMs.
I could add more on that here—and will in future posts—but looking back to my prior posts, I described millennials and dinosaurs:
- Millennials want function instead of formality
- Dinosaurs want decisions instead of excuses
Today’s software systems are at the intersection of these two wants and needs. They promote the marriage of technology and decision-making that can raise your customer service game and develop your B+ AMs into A+ AMs. That’s the power of visibility and accountability that integrated systems can deliver.
This is the future. This is now. More on this next week, related to efficiency.