The art of strategic account management
Strategic account management doesn’t just happen, it is an ongoing and constantly evolving partnership between your organisation and your travel management company.
No matter what stage your travel program is at, the role of your account manager is to analyse, implement and future-proof your travel processes and services.
The right fit
From a travel management perspective, a strategic account manager is an experienced professional dedicated to the growth and development of your organisation - as much as you are. A good account manager will leverage their thorough understanding of travel industry trends, suppliers, technology, back office systems and travel program maturity, to identify both opportunities and problems before tailoring a personalised program.
By proactively communicating and engaging with customers on a regular basis, a dedicated account manager can recognise gaps in a program and also know when to bring in subject matters experts to solve a situation or add value. Building multilevel relationships across a customer’s organisation, based on accountability and trust, a professional account manager will continue to add value by helping to drive innovation and change to meet an organisation’s clearly defined expectations.
We asked FCM Global Account Manager Andy Stark and Kate Taylor, Head of Account Management QLD/NT, for their insights into the essential ingredients for a strategic and successful customer-account manager relationship.
- The two businesses need to have a cultural fit, which is reflected in an alignment of business values, a mutual roadmap for success and strong relationships built on trust.
- Empathy with the customer and a commitment to innovating their travel program to deliver great value and service to their stakeholders, traveller bookers and travellers.
- The ability to see the big picture and to build multilevel relationships within an organisation with a view to understanding the objectives of everyone from the procurement team, to the decision makers and travellers.
- An understanding that each organisation will have different objectives, which require a different approach.
- Solid analytical skills and the ability to set and deliver measurable goals.
- The ability to work strategically to improve the customer’s travel program and to add value to travel through rich reporting and analysis, innovation and best in market technology tools.
Unlocking company benefits
Strategic account managers use their thorough industry knowledge and customer understanding to drive value, design solutions and meet customers’ travel program goals. With a clear picture of an organisation’s key drivers and KPIs results can be achieved through a well thought out and achievable travel program.
While important, optimum cost savings are not necessarily the key goal, but they are a natural by product of a best in market program. It is also essential that the organisation’s values are aligned with their program, while an empathetic approach encompasses everything from a comprehensive on boarding process to traveller well-being, risk management, duty of care and tech tool education.
Streamlining the traveller experience
Ultimately the traveller’s well-being and experience will reflect the account manager’s ability to deliver a program which is sympathetic to their needs. With empathy for the traveller as the key driver, a strategic account manager will always have the simple question - ‘what is important to the traveller?” in the forefront of their mind.
With this as a goal, the end result is a smooth and seamless end-to-end traveller experience at every touch point. By understanding the traveller’s pain points, market leading technology can be implemented to improve the traveller journey – from online booking to effortless expense management on the go.