You Can’t Win a Fight with Your Client and 49 Other Rules for Providing Great Service
by Tom Markert
This book is about managing client relationships in a service economy, with a focus on the role of the account manager. The author was CEO of a market research firm serving Fortune 500 clients. To illustrate the importance of the account manager role, he quotes the CEO of a consumer goods company which derives 40% of its business from Wal-Mart: “If we are not servicing them just right… our business is dead.” The book offers 50 tips, each presented in an easily digestible two or three page chapter.
Some of the rules deal with doing your homework. Rule #1 is “know your products.” If a client asks if your firm has a certain capability and you have to get back to them, it sends a message that it is not one of your firm’s core strengths. Also, being aware of the full range of capabilities enables you to make the client of aware of them when relevant opportunities surface.
Several of the rules are about building strong relationships. “Decisions today get made by a large degree of consensus and often by committee. Having a strong relationship with one person may not be enough for you to hold on to an account. And trust me—if something goes wrong, you definitely want to have lots of friends.”
Rule #29 is to make the best out of a bad situation. “Simple acts can diffuse gravely difficult situations in any business… Think about it. When you are sitting on a plane that is stuck on a tarmac because of a snowstorm, does it help if the pilot routinely gives you an update, or do you like to be kept in the dark? … Similarly, when things go wrong with a client, find ways to mitigate the pain—and do it quickly… Timely communication and updates are always critical.”
Some of the rules are internally focused. Rule #49 is about keeping your behind-the-scenes staff informed. “If nothing else, it raises their morale and energy.”
The book concludes with Rule #50: exude quite confidence. “The most successful client service executives always seem to possess the simplest quality: quiet confidence. They are not loud or arrogant. They are not mean; they are even-tempered. They are steady and sure-handed. They bring passion and energy to their work. They are undeterred in the face of difficulty. They may want to scream, but they never do. They don’t hate problems; they love solving them. Great servicing occurs when you truly love the game of servicing and have the confidence to get the job done with maturity and grace.”
Markert, Tom. You Can’t Win a Fight with Your Client & 49 Other Rules for Providing Great Service. New York: HarperBusiness, 2007. Buy from Amazon.com