If you’re as old as I am, you’ll remember the British Telecom (as BT was then known) TV adverts with the tagline “It’s good to talk”. It was an incredibly effective advertising campaign which helped change consumers’ perceptions of the organisation.
As it so happens, the same tagline is relevant to the sales and account management communities too. Let me explain by using an example from the banking world.
Business and Corporate Banks don’t employ account managers to manage their major accounts. They employ ‘Relationship Managers’ or RMs. Words are important. Banks tend to take business relationships more seriously than other industries, in part because an intimate knowledge of the customer is critical when making lending decisions.
One of our clients is a large European bank where the MD of the Corporate and Business Banking division prides himself on the level of service provided to his customers. For him, service begins with regular contact and the vast majority of corporate and business clients see their RM every three months or more frequently.
The MD asked us to test this, by asking his clients how frequently they saw their RM. A small percentage (4%) of the bank’s clients claim they never saw their RM and a similar number said they met the RM annually. 9% saw their RM every six month; 22% every 3 months and the majority (56%) said that their RM was in contact with them on a more frequent basis.
What we hadn’t predicted was that frequency of contact has a huge impact on the quality of the banking relationship (we call this Customer Relationship Quality) and also on the bank’s Net Promoter Score.
A quick analysis of Net Promoter Scores by frequency of contact is telling.
The bank’s overall Net Promoter Score is 28% which, for European B2B companies is good (see another blog here).
When RM visits are conducted only on an annual basis, or not at all, the Net Promoter Score is deeply negative – minus 70% for the 4% of clients who claim they never see their RM.
However, for the majority of clients who are in contact with their Relationship Manager every 1-2 months, the Net Promoter Score is a whopping 51%.
There is a very simple message here. If you want to have better relationships with your clients, go and talk to them more frequently than you currently do.