Earl, you aren't alone.
I've been on both sides of this table, as a practitioner (buyer) and as an
outsourcing manager (vendor) who managed a variety of long-term accounts
with a variety of different resources placed with the client, from entry
level to expert.
As a vendor, particularly on those accounts where I had lower-level staff in
place (which is often the case with Account Reps - entry level sales job),
the turnover was high for a variety of reasons including: some just didn't
work out, some figured out they hated the work, some moved on to
bigger/better opportunities that I couldn't match, some left for
bigger/better that I could offer but they wanted to try on a new company,
The key for the vendor is to document, document, document. I don't care how
big a vendor is, if it places the right and enough value on providing
quality service to their customers, they will ensure that any amount of
turnover only costs them, not their customers (that turnover is built into
their pricing structure as overhead, so no reason to make the customer pay
twice to account for it).
They need to document all customer contract terms, correspondence,
likes/dislikes, nicknames, contract history (anecdotal), and so on, and then
... and this is really important ... they need to give this information to
the new person and give them time to digest it before thrusting them out the
door and into the client's life. And if they're not willing to do that,
then the new person's manager needs to work that account with them until
they are up to speed (because the manager should know all of those details
I took that approach, and thankfully was allowed to do so by my employer at
the time, and am comfortable that 99.9% of my customers would
whole-heartedly back me up on what I've asserted. I'm sure I didn't please
everyone all of the time, but it certainly was NEVER for lack of effort.
As a buyer, and perhaps a bit of a cynic?, I assume (based on experiences
like yours) that not all companies afford these issues the weight I feel
they're due, so I document everything on my end and retrain when necessary.
If it gets to a point of ridiculousness (like Maureen shared), then you have
to exercise your right to make a switch (like Cherise). I know that is
easier said than done for some products/services, but honestly if a company
has a verifiable track record of poor employee retention and poor customer
service and retention, there isn't anything you're going to say or do that
is going to change their misplaced priorities (even firing them won't make
them change their ways).
To answer your question of whether I consider my relationship with my Rep or
the Company, I'd have to admit with my Rep (for offsite storage). I'd much
rather the relationship be with the Company, however this company is one of
those that has proven over time to not put enough weight on the things I
think it needs to. I'm working on positioning our firm to make a change - a
long road, but clearly a road I must travel.
Would I follow a good Rep to their new company? I'd certainly strongly
consider it. Trust is a high-value commodity. When I left the
outsourcing/consulting world to come in-house, there were several clients
who, during my meeting with them to discuss the transition, asked me
pointedly where I was going. When I said I was going in-house, I was met
with many disappointed faces as they knew they couldn't follow me. However,
I promised them that I would ensure that my replacement was prepared to take
over exactly where I left off and move ahead without delay or hiccup, and
that's what I did to the best of my ability.
Long response to a fairly straight-forward issue, sorry for that. I just
hope that some of what I have gone through and shared here helps someone -
and particularly hope the vendors on the list (and those who are lurking)
take note. This is a big deal to your customers, and so should be a big
deal to you. If money is what speaks to you, consider this: it costs three
times as much to establish a new client as it does to retain an existing
Cheers y'all - it's quittin' time here!
Julie J. Colgan, CRM
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