Last Thursday at 11 p.m. — an hour before Hurricane Harvey upgraded to a Category 2 hurricane — our account services team received an email from one of our clients, a Texas insurance company. It was clear that many of their members were going to face the effects of Harvey, and it was time to take digital action to get those in its path the information they needed to best prepare for the storm.
In a matter of hours, our team of designers, strategists, and editors crafted a slew of content including a blog about hurricane preparedness, emails to be distributed before and after the storm hit, strategically amplified social media posts and ads, and two geo-targeted campaigns; one for coastal members residing within the storm’s path, the other for those slightly inland likely to experience the effects of heavy flooding.
Despite jumping in last-minute, we were hugely successful in getting people the information they needed to be safe: In the five days since, the company’s website traffic has tripled, and our posts about hurricane safety reached almost half a million people on social media. Not only were we available to jump in head-first during our client’s hour of need, but they trusted us to possess a deep enough understanding of their business to create a strategic plan and execute it effectively — which, as a seamless extension of our clients’ teams, is our ultimate goal.
This is the average day in the life of an account services person at D Custom; the framework for which is built from a day in the life of our clients. Like us, they have unpredictable days, and it’s part of our job to be nimble and align our schedules to theirs.
Still, while it’s true that the unpredictable nature of the position often makes us the first responders when addressing new opportunities and issues that arise daily, there is a rhythm of repeatable best practices that effective account service personnel embrace to steward and foster the most mutually beneficial client-agency relationships.
Down to a Science; Down to the Minute
Here’s a glimpse of what I consider a typical 24-hour day in the account services world.
3:37 a.m.: Trouble sleeping stressing over whether or not we remembered to order a vegetarian option for our working lunch with the client.
5:45 a.m.: Sweating while going over the things I need to accomplish today or practicing a speech while relieving stress the best, non-medicinal way I know: jogging.
6:45 a.m.: Checking email before I jump in the shower in case our East Coast clients got off to any early start today.
8:03 a.m.: Sitting at my desk doing all the administrative tasks that become nearly impossible when the rest of the office arrives around 9 a.m. — status reports, billing, timesheets, resignation letter, just kidding …
9:07 a.m.: Taking advantage of the rest of the team arriving, grabbing their morning coffee and settling into their desks to provide friendly reminders and ensure that we’re still on track to deliver everything due by EOD.
9:37 a.m.: Checking email and messages.
10:30 a.m.: Running through status and new developments with clients on a standing conference call.
11:15 a.m.: Relaying this information to internal teams so we can start developing strategic solutions, whether it’s how to organize social media channels and blog sites in a corporate merger or the best way to reach a niche audience of community pharmacists.
11:45 a.m.: Prepping the conference room to ensure we have a successful working lunch with clients to brainstorm topics for the next editorial calendar.
1:17 p.m.: Organizing my notes from the meeting to output a report that keeps the client’s big-picture needs in mind, and making sure the team follows up on next steps.
2:00 p.m.: Reviewing the company’s annual report and soaking up any information I’ve yet to read concerning their business.
3:23 p.m.: Checking in with other members of the account service team to see how they’re progressing and offering advice when appropriate.
4:47 p.m.: Doing a final check on deliverables that are due by EOD to make sure they are strategically on point and comply with the client’s wishes, then checking in with colleagues to troubleshoot any areas of concern.
6:03 p.m.: Updating schedules and timelines in preparation for the next day and checking hours and budgets to make sure projects are going according to estimate.
6:37 p.m.: Taking a moment to turn off my work brain to sit down and enjoy dinner with my family.
8:45 p.m.: Checking email one last time (hopefully).
Keeping the Ball Moving
If you haven’t picked up on the theme here, it’s doing — always strategically doing something to keep the ball moving forward on projects and ideas. Sometimes you can only move the ball another inch, but often that’s what creates a domino effect that helps your team and your client cross the finish line in time, on target, and under budget.
Anticipating the optimal time to exact these sometimes subtle, sometimes forceful pushes is the trick and the mark of a good account manager. Sometimes it means swooping in to save the day, but we’re not superheroes. If we’re always saving the day, then that means we’re not getting the most out of the incredibly talented designers, editors, and strategists we depend on and who depend on us to manage well.
Our strength is in our collective experience and the experience we gain from overcoming challenges with our clients, together. In many ways, our account services people are like conductors orchestrating the movements of many players including our clients — no movement without purpose, no one less important than the rest. And the skill with which we lead and communicate will always determine whether we receive a standing ovation from the audience.