Growth hacking doesn’t just end with getting the perfect process and product down. It also deals with delivering the perfect customer experience.
Great customer experience can create satisfied customers, build your brand’s reputation, and create the momentum you need to take your organization to the next level.
In today’s guide, we take a look at how you can adequately define your account management processes and avoid churn and burn.
- The Difference Between Account Management and Team Project Management
- Client Retention Strategies
The Difference Between Account Management and Team Project Management
The main difference between account management and project management is who you’re dealing with.
Team project management deals with your team and how you get your products from conception to completion. Account management, on the other hand, is dealing with a customer before, during, and after delivery.
Your account management is the experience that you provide your customers with.
This doesn’t start from the moment your client comes on board, but rather is a continuation of the experience from the first touchpoint. This means maintaining their first impression of your company from the moment they come across it through lead generation or an ad.
Over the last couple of years, there has been a greater emphasis on better customer experience. We all know that one company that has excellent products but can’t seem to understand that they’ve got to treat their customers right.
Proper account management allows you to manage expectations, create a better rapport between a client and your team, and keep them on for the long term.
Simply put, it’s a critical selling point.
This is especially true in the digital marketing arena where almost everyone has a great product.
What sets similar companies apart?
Excellent account management processes.
The first step in defining your account management processes is setting expectations.
Now, this is exceptionally vital in digital marketing because it’s primarily a service-based business that deals with both the quantifiable and qualifiable.
Take web design as an example, more often than not, we hear plenty of stories of teams approaching burnout because their clients have decided to redesign their website 15 times.
At the end of the day, the clients aren’t so nuts about their product, and the devs have been driven nuts because of the number of requests.
Here are a few steps to properly defining and managing expectations:
- Define the scope of your services in detail – this includes how many revisions you’re supposed to make, what buying your products gets them (and what it doesn’t get them), etc.
- Provide them with the timeframe and TAT (turnaround time).
- Skip out on the fine print and tell them how much it is exactly going to cost them. Tell them how much add-ons are going to cost and how that’s going to alter the project.
- Invite them to ask as many questions as they can so that you can clarify everything in the beginning.
- Ensure that you put everything in a contract and make them sign it – this provides you with leverage just in case things go south.
- Update them regularly.
Assign a point person for them to contact during the project period.
You still have to prepare for unexpected setbacks and issues to arise, especially for larger projects. However, laying the proper groundwork now will make things easier to solve.
Here’s a template for a client kick-off call that you can easily implement and follow. You’ll find the relevant questions to ask in order to onboard in a proper manner and it can even form the standard operating procedure for you to follow when you have new clients coming in.
It’s also a great resource for you to set boundaries with your clients and get them collaborating with you on the regular.
Automating Reporting and Deliverables
In the previous section, we mentioned updating your client regularly, and there’s a reason we insist that you do this.
Regular updates help boost a customer’s experience with your organization because they feel that their project is moving forward and that you genuinely care about their well-being.
Remember, excellent customer service is the hallmark of a company that cares.
Aim to automate reporting so that you prevent precious time being spent on individual reports being made.
Here’s a template for client reporting that we’ve used in the past.If you’re running a LinkedIn campaign – or any campaign on social media for that matter – you can use the same format.
Put yourself in your client’s shoes.
What do you want to know?
This means details such as important metrics that lead to real-world results have to be highlighted. You also want to tell your client about the progress you’ve made in attaining a particular goal that you’ve set with your client.
There are different ways to automate reporting and deliverables.
- Create email templates that your point person can send out to your client to update them when the project reaches a significant point in completion, e.g., when a landing page has reached the QA stage, when mockups are ready, etc. However, this doesn’t take the power of automation into full effect.
- Use a CRM application to mark critical milestones. Apps like Databox will help you get the job done.
- Create a portal on your website made, especially for your client. You can include finished products, KPIs, and timelines there so that they can track the course of their project. For WordPress, there are plugins like Client Portal that you can use specifically for this. These plugins give your client their own secure login for their project on a subdomain on your site.
- If you’re white labeling, make sure that your white label partner creates a template specially made for your company. You can opt to receive those report templates and deliverables so that you can send them yourself – or you could create a Zap – with Zapier – that will do it for you per client.
If you’re faced with a choice, we’d advise you to use a portal service. This makes the job easier because our client has access to all the information that they may need and it also shows them that you are staying up-to-date with the technology that you’re using.
Automation will save your team a lot of time and resources, and you could outsource the work, too. However, you’ll need a lot of clients to justify the costs. Most companies will survive with one dedicated customer service representative, while others can make do by letting sales handle client concerns.
Streamlining Communications, Support, and Feedback
Proper communications are essential to account management processes because they determine the tone that you set with the client that you have.
You should consider assigning a point person from your team to handle a client’s account. This streamlines communications and prevents multiple requests from flooding into different people on your team.
In effect, it also minimizes confusion on the client’s end. They don’t have to contact more than one person to get the job done, and they can build on the rapport that they have with the company representative that you have assigned to handle their account.
Even B2B businesses have found a lot of success in assigning account managers for different accounts, and selling methods like account-based marketing (ABM) have also benefited from doing this.
Since you’ll usually be dealing with multiple accounts at the same time, it helps to have your representative(s) armed with the right tools to get themselves organized. One of the more popular ways to manage your client relations and improve customer support is through the use of Freshdesk.
It even offers you a free version that you can use if your budget has recently taken a beating, or if you’re just first starting out. You can create your very own knowledge base and create forums and communities where people can discuss your product. They’ve also got team dashboards that you can use for tracking insights and customer relations.
Here’s what’s good about it.
We love it because it’s simple and you only have to use one email to receive communications from a client, and you organize issues via threads.
Correspondence can come in through the use of a ticketing system, and you can even assign people on your team to handle separate accounts or even issues that come up.
It also integrates with other web-based applications to supercharge your account management processes.
Make sure that you take this a step further by logging into any problems that they come across during their time with your company.
If you’ve decided to use a customer portal to assist you with client management, make sure that you include your support email in the portal itself – you can even turn it into a CTA.
However, always make sure that you’re communicating primarily through one person to avoid any miscommunication.
We all know that the “customer is always right,” but it isn’t right for a client to call you in the middle of the night because he didn’t like the color of the CTA on his homepage.
No matter how much your client pays you, they still have to respect your boundaries.
We’ve all been a victim to an annoying client that we’ve tried to please by keeping a constant line of communication open. However, believe it or not, it can come off as highly unprofessional.
By restricting communications to certain times, you let the client indirectly know that you are a professional with multiple clients and limited time.
Don’t make yourself become too available for the clients that you have. You’ll end up spending way too much time on just one person.
Remember the previous section on setting and managing expectations? You should also be able to set proper boundaries.
There are a number of ways that you can go about this:
- Agree to a client call only once or twice a week, and make sure that this call is limited to a maximum of one hour only.
- During the call, make sure that you have a laundry list of talking points. This makes the setting feel formal and organized.
- Aim to provide an update of what you’ve talked about before. Think of them as virtual minutes.
- Don’t call when an email suffices, this is true for a lot of things that we do in life. Although nothing beats a personal interaction, not everything requires a Skype meeting.
- Make sure that your point person handles most of the outreach and communications. You don’t want to confuse your client by having random people on the team jump into conversation with them.
A final note on setting boundaries: avoid making it feel too mechanical if you can. You still want the client to feel comfortable and make them feel that your organization is approachable and friendly.
Make sure that you reassure them that they can reach out to you if they have any emergencies or particular concerns. However, if you’re communicating with them well enough, this “lifeline” won’t be used on a regular basis.
The balance might seem difficult at first but you want to sound both professional and approachable.
Client Retention Strategies
Many business studies have concluded that it costs organizations more money to get new customers than to remarket to customers that they already have in their pipeline.
And, you know it’s true.
Maximizing the lifetime value (LTV) of your customers should be a priority for companies, even for newly built startups because it helps their organizations get repeat customers which are so much more valuable than newer ones.
Think about it, you’ve already established rapport with these customers, and they’re already familiar with your brand and services. It makes sense to resell to them.
There are two types of churn rates that you have to measure: customer churn and revenue churn.
The former refers to how many customers have unsubscribed or stopped doing business with you, and revenue churn is a measurement of how much revenue you’ve lost because of lost customers.
Although it is technically impossible to retain every single one of your customers, there are plenty of ways to keep most of them on board.
You have to understand that communication with your customers doesn’t end after you’ve sold them a product. This is just the beginning of your relationship with them.
Keeping the lines open and actively engaging with your customers is a common strategy that a lot of successful companies have employed, and we’ve had success with.
There are plenty of ways to go about this:
- Make sure that you send your customer updates about your company. These don’t have to come in every month, but a word every now and then will help remind your customers about your services.
- Identify customers who are less likely to sign up with you again and give them incentives for renewing their memberships or purchasing from you again.
- If you have their personal information – such as birthdays – you can send them a quick greeting along with a birthday offer or incentive.
- Keep the channel open by asking them questions about the services that they have received from you. In this way, you know what else your company can improve on.
Skip the Hard Sell and Offer Value
Although it can get tempting to send people to offer upon offer to get sales from them again, it’s advised that you don’t.
Because it can get annoying.
Instead, opt to send them resources and other tools that they might find useful. If they’re previous customers of yours, you’ll have information about them. Just knowing what industry they’re in is enough to customize an email or find out what kind of tool will resonate with them.
Here is a list of resources that you can send them:
- Episodes from your latest webinar
- Spreadsheet tools that they can use
- Directories that they can use with their industry
- Email templates
- Case studies from your own company
- Free coupons
And, this list is still incomplete, remember those lead magnets you used for lead generation?
You can send those as well!
These continue to provide value to your customers even after the purchase, and it makes your organization come off as a thought leader, a company that wants to cater for all to benefit.
Reach Them Again through Retargeting
Here’s another tip that we like to use at BAMF, since you already have their emails, you can always grab their email and remarket to them using web ads.
A popular choice is to use a custom audience for retargeting ads for them to view on Facebook.
All you have to do is to go to Audiences on Facebook’s Ads Manager, click on Create a Custom Audience.
Select “Customer List” and you’ll be taken to a window where you can upload email addresses in bulk.
And, there you have it.
You now have a custom list of your old customers that you can send ads to so that they’ll be reminded of your services.
However, we do advise that you don’t go ahead and retarget them after the sale but wait for some time. This is especially true for products that have longer sales cycles.
Focus on Specific Types of Customers
You won’t get your ideal customer purchasing from you at all times, but if you’re looking at prioritizing your remarketing strategy, prioritize thoughts with a higher propensity to repeat-buy.
This makes your resource consumption more efficient than having to remarket to every single customer that you have – not that we don’t encourage it.
Your ideal customers may vary, but prioritizing those with larger budgets and frequent consumption habits is vital.
However, make sure you’re also on the lookout for customers that have the potential to become more prominent in the future. Establishing rapport with them earlier will help you continue working with them in the future.
Give Out Referral Bonuses
Here’s another way to hit two birds with one stone.
Give out incentives to previous customers who can refer people they know to use your products or services. You can give out a freebie or give them a free month’s subscription to something that you offer.
In this way, you get to keep them and have the opportunity to get a new customer on board.
Referral bonuses have worked for a number of different industries, and they can help keep your customers interested in the products that you have to offer.
Trello Gold is an excellent example of how they were able to grow their customer base via invites and provide their customers with free months of premium access.
It’s often tempting to tip the scales towards customer acquisition and forget about retention. The way to do it is to understand that it is a delicate balance between the two.
A high customer or revenue churn rate is indicative of a situation where you need to focus on getting customers to come back. We all know that it costs less to retain a customer than to have to go out and find a new one.
Don’t Forget to Track Your Progress
Monitoring is one of the essentials of growth hacking because it helps you keep track of what improvements you need in your account management process.
Apart from calculating your burn/churn rates, a lot of the automation apps have an insights panel that you can take a look at to see what you’ve done with your customers.
On Freshdesk you can check out how well you’re answering your customers’ queries and records of your statistics, and other CRM applications have different methods of showing you where you can do better in your customer account management.
You have to remember that the whole account management process is one of the best things that you can add to your product, that is not part of the product in itself.
It helps boost your reputation as a great service provider and it allows you to differentiate yourself in a highly competitive market.
It’s a crowded and aggressive industry, and every little thing helps.
Your account management can make or break your organization.