Updated: Aug 8
James Clear wrote: "Goals are for people who want to succeed once. Habits are for people who want to succeed again and again."
In most customer-facing roles, the employee receives a goal they are expected to achieve. This is the primary metric by which their performance is evaluated, and it indicates how well they are doing and where improvements can be made.
Working with customers presents numerous challenges. You are supposed to reflect their diverse needs within the organization and ensure they are satisfied with the products and services they receive. At the same time, you are entrusted to foster customer growth, deepen their relationship with the company, and create economic value for the company.
Customer-facing work lies at the heart of a company's operations because the company's goal is to address the customer's genuine needs efficiently and holistically, considering both the customer's and the company's needs.
As a customer manager, you need to recognize the unique needs of key individuals within the customer's organization and make them fall in love with your product solutions. So, how do you build this system?
Trust: If you say something to a customer, stand behind your words. Commit to deadlines and adhere to them. If you misspeak, rectify and present things accurately. Trust, developed over time through consistent behavior, forms a strong and enduring foundation for the relationship.
Persistence in Pursuing Goals: The ability to follow up is vital in customer-facing work, especially in B2B relationships where immediate responses are not always possible. If you don't receive a response via email, phone, or message, it is crucial not to be discouraged and try again.
Planning: Apart from the daily work, it is crucial to periodically prepare a more strategic document about the customer. This document includes stakeholders (who may change over time), their product lines, long-term plans, value proposition to the customer, products in use, potential risks (such as switching to a competitor), requirements from the company, etc.
Data Analysis: Regularly going through customer data, often available through Business Intelligence or similar platforms, helps draw insights and create important interactions that build trust with the customer. Addressing unusual patterns in usage behavior, for example, approaching the customer when they significantly increase usage (which might surprise them at the end of the month), adds value and strengthens the relationship.
Market Awareness: As a customer manager, you should act as a business consultant, understanding the customer's business environment in which your company operates. With this knowledge, you can advise the customer on how to best utilize your products.
Personal Relationship: Though it might be said that nothing is personal in business, I believe that having a personal connection built over time can make it harder for the customer to try out competitors. Shared meals, customer events, holiday greetings (local or international), and birthdays are ways to foster a personal connection over time.
Requesting Feedback: Yes, customers can provide feedback too. Surveys are one method where feedback can be collected independently from the company, and it can help the company measure customer manager performance and identify areas for improvement. Additionally, asking the customer directly for feedback on products or operational methods is also beneficial.
For conclusion, customer management is one of the most impactful roles in an organization, as the customer manager is both the customer's ambassador within the organization and a representative of the company to the customer. This role demands a combination of soft interpersonal skills with a strong focus on achieving goals, facilitated through the incorporation of product expertise, planning, negotiation, and high-level analytical skills.