Over the past few blogs, we have discussed how important a digital strategy is for your credit union. Careful selection of the right partner to fit your strategic needs requires excellent digital products and the flexibility to give your digital channel “evolutionary makeover" support on your timetable based on changing consumer needs. As we mentioned in the previous blog, talented Development and Product Teams are necessary components to meet those needs.
What we have not talked about is the importance of Account Management. Your account manager plays a crucial role in facilitating the support of your digital platform, continuously discussing the strategic goals of your digital platform strategy, and keeping you informed of new products/services to meet those strategies. Not all account management designs are the same. Let's take a look at how different account management processes can impact your digital strategy.
The Silo Model
The silo account management model is when different functions are divided between different groups within the organization. In this model, Implementations, Support, and Account Management are all handled by completely separate teams. You may initiate a call to your Account Manager, only to be redirected to the Implementations Team or the Support Team based on the nature of your request. If you contact the wrong team, be prepared for a hand-off because there is a lot of hand-off action in the silo model, which isn’t ideal for the client. While the division of roles and responsibilities seems to make sense for specialization, it can be a lot of extra work on your part for communication when the different siloed departments don’t communicate with each other well.
The Round Robin Model
With the round robin model of client management, you’ll get the next person available in the queue. If you have 10 tickets open, then you could feasibly have 10 different individuals from the provider company assigned, one for each initiative. Then you get to keep track of who to go to for follow-up on each item. There is also a huge drawback with this model in that the company’s representatives don’t have any depth of knowledge about your credit union, don’t have the ability to develop deep relationships with your team, and don’t have a big picture understanding about your organization’s objectives and priorities.
The round robin model can be frustrating enough, but when coupled with the silo model, it’s even more cumbersome as a client trying to contend with round robin staffing within each siloed department you need to interface with. This double whammy makes for a lot of wasted time. Good news, there is a better model!
The Integrated Team Model
An alternative account management process is the integrated team approach. In this context, a specific team is assigned to each client, including one Implementations contact, one Support contact, and the Account Manager. If you visualize a three-legged stool, this team can support all needs that a client may have.
The HUGE differentiator here is that the client benefits from the continuity of having the same integrated and cohesive team of three individuals managing all the credit union’s needs. One Implementations specialist handles all the credit union’s project management needs for product evolution. One Support representative handles all your day-to-day support needs. One Account Manager handles all your relationship, contract, and strategic planning needs. The same cohesive team, who knows you and your organization well. And who communicate with each other to provide the best support experience for your credit union.
Compared to the silo and round robin models, the integrated team model removes delays in resolving service issues and implementing new products, so you can keep moving forward at a faster pace in servicing your members and expanding your digital banking product offering.
This integrated team model also facilitates the timely introduction of relevant products and services to the credit union, as communication among the team often enables the Account Manager to identify features and functionality that would be a good fit to improve a client's digital banking platform based on dialogue you may have had with another member of the team.
You guessed it; Connect is a big fan of the integrated team model. While we’ve been utilizing this model for some time now, we took steps this week to make Connect’s client management approach even more tightly integrated than before. The Implementations and Support integrated resources for each client now work together in smaller pods, and report to the same manager. Connect remains focused on always finding ways to enhance our clients’ experience and to strengthen our client partnerships.
Account Management is Paramount for Successful Digital Delivery
While often underestimated, the successful business relationship between a partner and a client hinges on effective account management. The digital channel is continuously evolving with the introduction of new technologies and consumer demands. COVID caused many businesses to re-evaluate how they sell and service existing and potential customers. Customers have minimal acceptance of delays for product and service and delivery. These execution points require a streamlined process from the moment the client makes a request of their provider until end-user expectations are fulfilled.
The silo and round robin models create a lack of communication among disassociated organizational resources. That communication gap impacts the speed of delivery/resolution that post-COVID consumers demand. The integrated team design ensures a personalized and efficient account management process. And, in a digital world, efficient performance is table stakes to meet consumer expectations. The account management style used by your provider, then, is a critical contributor to your digital business model and end-user satisfaction.