The 3 worst mistakes account managers make

Confessions of account managers: the 3 worst mistakes to make (and how to bounce back)

The first mistake you ever make on the job may leave you devastated.

Will the client notice? Can I cover my tracks? Am I getting fired?

The questions haunt you as you desperately look for the silver lining. In any industry, professional blunders are all too common. Among account managers, there are a few recurring themes which, when addressed, may help the next generation of reps to better serve their clients.

Compromising revenue

Anything that compromises a client’s revenue stream is likely to make you lose that account. One example of that: mismanaging a brand website.

“I once broke a business’ website while on an SEO assignment,” shared one unlucky SEO manager. “I knew a quick way to undo the problem but lacked the authorization and permissions to actually implement the fix.” It was hours before the surprised client responded. Fortunately, by then, the account manager and his team had outlined an action plan which they could set in motion as soon as the client was available.

After receiving admin access, the SEO manager had his client’s site back up and running in less than an hour. But the mistake had already cost the business several thousand dollars in forgone sales and a few hundred dollars in customer service headaches.

After that month, the client decided not to renew the engagement. “We didn’t expect [the client] to fully forgive us, but we learned two valuable lessons. Every client now provides us with admin access and we have emergency procedures in place, should anything bad happen again,” said the SEO manager.

Conversation gaps

Given a client’s numerous priorities, account managers need to be proactive communicators. Regular follow-ups may seem gratuitous, but they are critical to the success of ongoing engagements.

An account executive at a large advertising agency recalls, “At my first job, I had the lowest account retention rates among my peers, even though I had the happiest clients. I was certain I’d lose my job. At the six-month mark, my manager decided to audit my activity and we found that I under-communicated with clients.” To the account exec, emails and phone calls were sacred pieces of communication to be used sparingly. Through regular communication though, an agency may learn more about a client’s needs and discover new ways to add value with existing services or upcoming products.

Scheduling time to check in with each account allows you to stay top-of-mind and encourages critical information sharing.

Neglecting deadlines

In a list of account management sins, the Advertising Educational Foundation (AEF) writes, “Whether it’s not returning a phone call, missing a meeting or not making a promised due date, all of these not only are rude, but send a signal to the client that his business is less important to you than other things.” While most clients are patient and understanding when unexpected situations arise, they are not tolerant of vendors that keep them in the dark.

The AEF adds, “It is important that the client always feels that his business and related tasks are one of your top priorities.” There is an important customer service component to the work account managers do which can be the difference between a lukewarm and transactional agency-client relationship and one in which both parties are committed to the long-term success of each other’s firms.

What’s one blunder you (or your colleague) made and how did you recover from that failure?

Post by Danny Wong

Danny Wong is an entrepreneur, marketer, and writer. He is the co-founder of Blank Label (an award winning menswear company focusing on luxury made-to-measure garments) and does marketing at Grapevine (a platform that drives eCommerce, helping retailers partner with YouTube celebrities). Tweet him @dannywong1190