I’m over 30 years old which means I can use the phrase “back in the day”. Well, maybe not. But I’m going to regardless. Back in the day, account management in an agency meant “glorified order taker”. We were also called “suits”…probably because being in client service meant sitting in lots of meetings and looking professional.
Thank goodness that has changed. Or at least, it is changing. Agencies are understanding and valuing the role client service teams play more and more. Clients are, largely, also valuing the contribution that good, strategic, proactive account managers can make to their businesses.
However, some are still a little slow to catch on. Why do you have to pay for an account manager? Why can’t I just talk directly to your developer, designer, copywriter?
Account managers pull it all together
Because a developer is very good at building a website or online platform, a designer is excellent at creating something visually impactful and a copywriter excels at crafting relevant, engaging content… but you need an account manager to pull it all together.
An account manager in today’s world is so much more than a “suit”. They are the problem solvers, the idea generators, the client relationship builders. They are the ones who will answer the phone after hours or over a weekend and help pull the team together to manage a crisis. They are the ones who are deeply immersed in the everyday of the client’s business.
Why you need good client service people
They are not just project executors. Employed well, they serve as smart strategists, thinkers and champion the client within the agency environment.
The reason for a client having a poor experience with an agency can often be tied back to poor account management and client service. Somewhere along the line, there was a failure to understand the business need, a bad brief, mismanaged budgets, timelines and expectations. These failings all tie back to whether or not the client is being successfully managed throughout their agency experience.
Account management isn’t just about book smarts
Client service can’t be taught in a book (well, technically it can, there are many courses you can take). But in today’s fast-paced, demanding times it’s less about being book smart and more about having the right aptitude and talent to be a client service person.
Getting it right for the client is about combining book smarts, people skills, excellent time and project management skills. It’s being a questioner, a thinker, a challenger. It’s about always digging deeper, pulling more from your client, exciting your team and delivering something that surprises not just your client but your own agency people too.
And that’s not simple. But it’s fun.