Outsource Magazine Issue 26 - (Page 102)

This issue: MARKeTiNG BPO; ACCOuNT MANAGeMeNT iMPROViNG The CRiTiCAL ACCOuNT They are “the ultimate customer service executives” – but underperformance can kill an outsourcing relationship stone-dead. Tony Filippone, HfS Research’s Research Vice President, Sourcing, Governance, and Healthcare Strategies, and his colleague Reetika Joshi, Principal Analyst, BPO and Analytics Strategies, explore the world of the account manager… ccount managers perform a complex juggling act in the outsourcing equation. They are the critical ‘face’ of their service provider employers to the client side, one whose features must be more or less flawless. They are a sales team’s secret weapons during deal negotiations, expert practitioners with years of process and/or vertical experience under their belts, smooth professional negotiators capable of defusing delivery crises, and most importantly, the governance team’s best friends (in fair and foul weather). Account managers are the ultimate customer service executives who are expected to put their clients’ needs before anything else in their lives. A service provider’s account manager may be the most important position on the account team. Clients want to know who is going to pander to their needs on a daily basis, and want to ensure that they like this individual before making the ultimate commitment. Adept in specific business processes or technologies and with in-depth industry experience, account managers repeatedly impress their client counterparts during site visits and sales pitches. Once they are placed on an account, account managers have a tough A role, but when they perform it well, service providers receive a variety of important benefits: Customer loyalty: a successful account manager is a service provider’s most effective builder of customer loyalty, almost on par with great service delivery. Weathering the storm: all processes experience problems. A successful account manager can deescalate difficult situations that lead to significant relationship stress. Expanded relationships: effective account managers develop deep relationships that are based on trust. Surprisingly, this trust is less often the result of the performance of the service provider and more often the result of interpersonal working relationships that an account manager develops. And this trust can lead to expanded relationships. Effective change management: anticipating post-contract service evolution changes and managing them effectively can create substantial efficiency for service providers. Successful account managers can navigate change management for their companies in a manner that builds relationships, position, profitability, and loyalty. Even as these benefits accrue to providers with effective account managers, there is of course a flip side. HfS Research conducted a series of interviews with a variety of buyers and service providers to analyse what works well and more importantly, what does not. Our qualitative research suggests that buyers have very low tolerances for underperforming account managers. Key issues for governance managers in liasoning with their provider counterparts include: Fundamental incompatibilities of assigned resources: sometimes the two parties just can’t see eye to eye. If an account manager and a governance liaison have a compatibility problem, the service provider should replace the person. “It’s not fixable,” declared a call centre manager. Difference in perceived vs. actual expectations: it may be simple, but an account manager may not understand the buyer’s expectations of performance. Two buyers shared examples of account managers who were underperforming and after a candid, personal conversation about the buyer’s expectations, the account managers improved. A buyer suggested, “Be extremely clear about what you want and when you want it. That doesn’t mean you need to be demanding.” Given the Tony Filippone is Research Vice President, Sourcing, Governance, and Healthcare Strategies with HfS Research. He can be contacted at tony.filippone@hfsresearch.com 102 ●● ●● www.outsourcemagazine.co.uk http://www.hfsresearch.com http://www.outsourcemagazine.co.uk

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Outsource Magazine Issue 26

News & Comment
2012 in outsourcing
Fine – but what does it all mean?
Steering Steria
Separate Ways?
Getting Smart
Northern Lights
Heads in the Cloud
Connecting Service
Bigger and Better
NOA Round-Up
Breaking Through
You Cannot be Serious!
Back to the Future
Accounts Payable
The Power of Two
Public-Private Partnerships
Kill or Cure
Public Problems
Top Ten
The Legal View
HfS Research
Online Round-Up
Inside Source
The Last Word

Outsource Magazine Issue 26