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The Use of Data Analytics to Segment Clients

Many firms hold a massive amount of transactional and other information about their Clients. By using sophisticated software programmes and analysing this information, suppliers are able to predict with some accuracy the future behaviour of Clients. The use of Customer data had its beginnings in the consumer sector and has now moved to the services sector. An example is retailers that use mined transaction data to send money-off coupons to their Customers for goods related to the previous purchase. Another is in hotels that send out special offers to loyal Customers.

It will be interesting to see what developments occur in professional services, where Client data is just as prevalent, although existing in lower volumes. It is likely that the more informed firms will use data analytics to better target prospective Clients by drilling down into the detail available. This topic is discussed further in Chapter 14.

MANAGING GLOBAL KEY ACCOUNTS

Darren Cox was appointed Global Key Account Manager at Grant Thornton International following over 20 years' prior experience of Key Account Management (KAM) in the legal and financial services sectors. His role is to formalise the global KAM Programme within the Grant Thornton global network.

'For KAM to be successful, a strategic approach is essential. Many senior partners have had various levels of exposure to KAM in the past, and there can be resistance to any attempts to make improvements or changes. KAM requires application of a focused business strategy that concentrates on those Clients that are of the highest corporate value in terms of income, profitability and growth. A Global Key Account Manager is the firm's champion of the Client and reflects the Client requirements and concerns back to the firm.'

The requirements of a KAM Programme are considerable for an effective outcome:

• A board level/management team KAM programme sponsor.

• Alignment with the firm's strategic plan, signed off at board level.

• Having the appropriate behaviours in place to manage the Client relationship, often through coaching and mentoring.

• Selection of the right Clients.

• Determining the appropriate value proposition for each Client (see also Chapter 6 for more information).

• Conducting needs assessments so that action plans are realistic in addressing the opportunities that present themselves.

• Clearly defined team member responsibilities and KPIs.

• Ensuring there is a mechanism in place to reward the non-billable time invested.

• Having the budgetary flexibility to support KAM, effective management will see investment of upwards of 30—40 per cent of a high earning partner's time.

• Measurement and reporting, ideally by a third party, against agreed annual objectives.

• The ability to measure and monitor the profitability of business with the Client.

• A full time resource spending at least one day per week on each Client.

• An appropriate supporting structure to underpin the Client relationship and monitor satisfaction.

• Sensitivity to cultural differences within the network regarding ways of working, sharing of information with other members and the level of candor.

• Sensitivity towards the differing requirements and preferences of international Clients.

• A feedback process involving the Client, overall relationship review at least annually to review joint progress and agree actions where appropriate along with major matter reviews as appropriate.

• Celebration of success: don't discount the importance of internal communication.

• Accepting that we learn from our successes and also failures, while there will be hard earned wins not all plans turn out as expected; the aim is for continuous KAM improvement.

One of the key challenges with KAM is that there may be only a few contact points in the network that have the appropriate depth of relationship with the international Client. It is how you utilise these contacts to help build cross-service line revenues.

To implement a KAM Programme requires a number of ongoing activities. For example, facilitated workshops can be held with two Client teams at a time, which can challenge each other's plans and bring different cultural insights across jurisdictions. These sessions are followed by regular reviews through video- and tele-conferencing.'

'In my experience KAM works better in some cultures than others; KAM is usually driven from the West, and some member firms in some countries within regions such as Asia & Pacific may find KAM a struggle at first. For this reason a KAM programme needs to consider this and ensure that key stakeholders are engaged early into the process. The use of fit-for-purpose templates and guidelines supported with an organisation structure are useful prerequisites for an effective KAM Programme.

Regular contact between Client team members is also essential to maintain the necessary momentum and meet the Client's requirements. A dedicated internal portal is available to enable sharing of documentation across the firm. Monthly calls are made in the Western hemisphere and the Eastern hemisphere. A balanced scorecard is used by managing partners to ensure that partners deliver their KAM KPIs and that these are acknowledged during the partners' appraisal.

In a global KAM Programme one of the key elements is the selection of Clients. This requires engagement of key stakeholders from across the firms in identified growth markets across the network. The process takes considerable time and effort and the assessment is scored using a number of strict criteria, including:

• Fit with the firm's global industry groupings.

• Whether a formal master service agreement or preferred supplier agreement is in place.

• Revenues in excess of $lm per year for the past three years with growth potential.

• Multiple service line opportunities identified.

• Geographic fit with the firm's capabilities.

• Established relationships with senior head office buyers/influencers within the Client.

• Availability of the lead partner for non-billable time.

• Local business development resource available to assist with the delivery of parts of the global plan relevant to their jurisdiction.

"KAM Client team member collaboration and focused Client engagement will result in increased workflows and deeper relationships with senior buyers and influencers. The ultimate aim is to achieve/maintain trusted advisor status. This effort helps to ensure on-going revenue growth and Client loyalty. This result in turn has the added internal benefit of supporting the expansion of the KAM programme".'

Portfolio Management is a Strategic Priority

Portfolio has shown how professional services firms can manage their Clients in many different ways. Strategic classification is a useful way of informing best use of resources. Those firms that have addressed the variety of Clients served and taken decisions to manage them strategically are more likely to be successful than firms who are prepared to handle any Client that comes along. The role of strategic Client Manager is becoming critical when managing both large and international Clients. Managing global Clients is also discussed in Chapter 14.

Managing the Client Portfolio

CLIENT MANAGEMENT REVIEW QUESTIONS

To what extent:

1. Has your firm classified its Client portfolio into strategic groups?

2. Do you review your method of classifying Clients?

3. Do you review your KPIs to see how these are managed over the Client mix?

4. Do you know the penetration level of the firm's top 10 Clients?

5. Do you know and report internally your gross margins per sector?

6. Do you know and report your income growth per sector and service line?

7. Do you use data analytics to improve your knowledge about Client preferences?

8. Do you create service and development plans for top Clients?

9. Do you allocate Client Service Partners to your key Clients?

10. Do key Clients have an allocated marketing budget?

These questions also form the basis of the Portfolio section of the Client Management Profile™, which can be found in Chapter 15.

Two further pointers:

• If you have international Clients, can you name the top 10?

• Review your processes for managing international Clients.

Client Management Model™

Client Management Model™

 
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