Actionable Agency Account Management Insights & Best Practices
- Effective account management involves nurturing client relationships, managers acting as a point of contact, and monitoring client satisfaction and their spending.
- Communicating with clients is important, but everything has to be tailored to everyone’s needs as not all clients need to be in the loop about every detail.
- Measure the success of your account management by using metrics that make sense for you, for instance the retention rate or account margin.
Agency account management is an essential pillar for those running this type of business. This is something we at SPP have found out after talking to countless agency owners. We’ve also realized that not all shops follow the same strategy when it comes to handling customers. Some apply a front-loaded approach, trying to quickly close the deal, leaving the newly founded relationship open to luck; others nurture their customers for years to come.
It’s clear that the second approach is the better choice for those building an agency that’s going to be around for the long term. According to CSA-Research, a nurtured customer is likely to increase their spend, while those unsatisfied will sooner or later churn.
If your agency isn’t consciously and actively managing its accounts yet, it’s probably not performing as effectively as it could be.
Effectively managing your client accounts is important, because a strong agency-client relationship can help you:
win new business
upsell and cross-sell existing customers
increase client lifetime value
get referrals and testimonials
In this guide, I’ll share everything you need to know about managing accounts—starting with the basics to how your agency can do it better.
What is agency account management?
To answer this, let’s look at a popular method many agencies use, the marketing lead generation process. That could involve brand advertising, direct response marketing, or cold outreach.
Leads get assigned to sales people who close deals and hand off the client to a manager within the agency, whose job is to keep them happy, help them succeed, and prevent them from churning.
The idea is to manage those client relationships by strategically:
onboarding new customers,
identifying and solving issues,
checking in to make sure they are satisfied, and
nurture customers so they increase their spend.
The entire process is usually the responsibility of dedicated account managers or the founders themselves for boutique agencies. Account managers should have great people skills while being great at multitasking, and they might even be holding a project management Master’s degree.
What are the responsibilities of account managers?
Whether you’re running an advertising agency, marketing agency, or creative agency—hiring experienced account executives who understand a client’s needs, and are able to proactively reach out in key situations will increase your revenue.
Your account managers should:
Nurturing long-term relationships: This means maintaining regular communication with your clients, being responsive to their needs, and proactively seeking out ways to improve their experience.
Act as a main point of contact: They should be the go-to person for your clients, making sure that problems are quickly solved, and questions rapidly answered.
Monitor client satisfaction: Account managers should regularly check in with customers to evaluate satisfactions with your agency’s work.
Coordinate agency efforts: Account executives usually serve as a contact for the internal team, as well, helping them with short- and long-term tasks.
Grow client spend: Without being too sales-y, your account managers should look for opportunities to upsell and cross-sell your services to existing customers—all within their budget.
Grow your industry knowledge
At this point it becomes clear that account managers wear many hats—from being a communicator, project manager, and sales person.
How can my agency improve its account management?
Now that we’ve covered the definition and basics, let’s take a look at some specific ways your agency can step up its game.
1) Map out your agency’s structure
The structure of your agency plays a massive role in when it comes to managing customer accounts.
If your agency is organized in a way that makes communication and collaboration difficult, it’s going to be tough to deliver great results for your customers. The same is true if your team isn’t clear on the structure of your agency.
To fix this, sit down with your team and map out how everyone fits together. Who is responsible for what? Who do your clients need to talk to when they have a question or concern, and who handles high-level strategy?
The answers to these questions will help you build a more streamlined, effective agency—which is exactly what you need to deliver great results.
2) Establish clear roles and boundaries
Once you’ve mapped out your agency’s structure, you need to establish clear roles and boundaries.
This is especially important if you have multiple account managers, project managers, and sales reps. You need to make sure that everyone knows who is responsible for what, so that there are no overlaps in responsibility.
To do this, sit down with your team and create a detailed job description for each person. Include information on their day-to-day responsibilities, as well as the specific accounts they’re responsible for.
Making these roles and boundaries clear from the outset will help ensure that your team is working effectively and efficiently—which is exactly what you need to deliver great results.
It’s easy to set up clear roles for every person on your team within your SPP workspace. Just head to Settings and either choose from the default roles or create a new one. The roles you set will impact what information each person on your team can see and access within the portal.
3) Break down communication silos
One of the biggest challenges facing agency account managers is communication.
With so many moving parts, it’s easy for things to get lost in the shuffle. And when information isn’t shared between team members, it can lead to big problems down the line.
To avoid this, you need to break down communication silos within your agency. Encourage (and even require) your team members to share relevant information with one another. This way, everyone will be on the same page and no one will have to waste time tracking down information that’s already been shared.
With SPP, it’s easy to keep people in the loops by tagging them in notes and comments. Just type
@ followed by the person’s name, and they’ll get an email notification about the information you’re sharing with them.
4) Communicate, communicate, communicate
Communicating effectively with your customers goes a long way in any type of business. That means have a client communication strategy that’s clear, concise, and repeatable.
Your agency should have regular check-ins—whether that’s weekly or monthly calls, or even just a quick email update. Make use of modern communication and automation opportunities to ensure fast response times.
The SPP client portal is a great way to manage your communication. It allows you to centralize all your data (invoices, emails, support tickets, etc.), making them easily accessible to everyone.
5) Decide how you’ll measure success
The final step in setting up your agency for success is to decide how you’ll measure it. After all, if you don’t know what success looks like, it’s going to be tough to achieve it.
What we’re talking about here are account metrics—agency KPIs that you’ll use to measure the success of your strategy.
There are tons to choose from, but here are some of the most useful:
Retention rate: The percentage of clients who remain with your agency for more than one year.
Client satisfaction score: Represents how satisfied your customers are with your services, usually on a scale from 1 to 10.
Account margin: Measures how much profit your agency is making from each client account. A low account margin might mean that the account manager isn’t upselling and cross-selling effectively.
Costs: This measures the cost of your administrative tasks, as a percentage of your overall agency revenue.
Account utilization rate: A value that reflects how much of your agency’s capacity is being used by customers. Keep an eye on it, as it signals when you need to hire new talent.
These are just a few examples—choose the account metrics that make the most sense for your agency and your clients. And make sure to track them regularly, so you can keep track of your strategy’s performance over time.
SPP already tracks certain metrics that can help you check if your needs are met. For instance, you can check the spend per customer, and compare it with the numbers from the previous month.
Nurturing existing clients, ensuring that they are fully satisfied with your services, is a recipe for success. The skills required on the human side include knowing what a client wants, the ability to multitask complex projects, and being strategic about offering the client more value through upsells and cross-sells. The account manager job role is not a cost center, but a crucial asset for every agency.