Key Account Management for executives: a wellspring of resilience in times of crisis
The unprecedented health crisis that we are experiencing has laid bare many organizations’ fragility. Executives are realizing the pressing need to strengthen the resilience of their business. The central principle of Key Account Management is closer cooperation between strategic customers and every aspect of their environment. As such, it is very clearly a potential solution to this new situation. It’s a bulwark against the crisis.
The overwhelming majority of executives believe that there will be a slow recovery, and that exiting the crisis will require new practices vis-a-vis employees as well as partners and customers.
These conditions demand adjustments to how companies work with customers and their ecosystem. These changes need to be carried out urgently due to the disruptions occurring, which companies have dwindling control over and can prove fatal due to their suddenness.
Many believe that the disruptions requiring a new approach to customer relations are not new. COVID has only made the need for change even more necessary. For example:
- Market concentration: fewer customers, but more powerful ones!
- Saturated needs: drive growth through improved segmentation and customer targeting
- Market globalization: customers aren’t just national—sometimes they’re European and often they’re global—and it is not always possible to work with a company in a country without global credentials.
- Rising organizational complexity: decisions are no longer made on an individual level, but as a team, which involves a large number of contacts at the customer company or in its ecosystem.
- The emergence of digital technology: buyers’ practices and new approaches to the market have changed the role of sales organizations.
The goal is to build resilient organizations. The best way to do so is to instill the organization’s culture and attitudes with a belief that didn’t necessarily feature prominently in the past: trust. Now more than ever, in a world where the only certainty is uncertainty, mutual trust is the key to competitiveness.
CENTERING THE COMPANY’S GOALS ON THE CUSTOMER
There is no better means of building trust than through Key Account Management, which boasts the great successes of customer-centric organizations. Being customer-centric involves structuring the company in a way that makes meeting customer needs and maximizing satisfaction everyone’s top priority. It requires the company to adopt a new model aimed not at selling products, services or systems, but at serving customers and becoming part of their success. As such, being customer-centric requires you to offer customers a consistent, high-quality experience at every touchpoint.
Key Account Management is the cornerstone of this customer centricity, which goes a step further by making customers central to the company’s strategic goals as part of an approach rooted in building loyalty.
It is therefore essential for all company employees to have bought into the initiative, so that all decisions are made for the customer’s benefit. Big Tech owes much of its incredible success to this principle.
At Amazon, for example, the principles of customer centricity are reinforced at every level of the company. Among other initiatives, each member of senior management spends two days working customer service every two years, to motivate employees and show that they care about customers at every level.
Under this philosophy, Key Account Management is one of the pillars of the transformation strategy that needs to be implemented. Through the value created with strategic customers, KAM also fosters the emergence of a new approach to how the company operates: new service offerings, new business models, completely revamped pricing and revenue systems, etc.
This transformation strategy helps structure the company’s actions and decisions, based on a customer promise and an employee promise. When paired with enhanced organizational agility, this transformation will achieve the requisite resilience, securing the company’s future in an ever more uncertain environment.
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