It is no secret that the fundamental aspect of a successful business partnership is the relation between the company and its clients. When excellent, constantly strengthened and well taken care of, it can result in long lasting cooperation that is highly satisfying for both sides.
That’s why some of the best players in the industry hire specialists who are, in a broad sense, responsible exclusively for customer service. We call them Client Engagement Managers (CEMs).
CEM: duties and skillsets
What does a CEM exactly do? There is plenty of responsibilities assigned to this role and the main ones include:
- identifying clients’ needs,
- helping clients shape their vision,
- adjusting the offer to the clients’ expectations,
- increasing clients’ satisfaction,
- extending planning periods (cooperation time) with clients,
- building mutually beneficial relationships based on trust and reliability,
- gaining testimonials,
- ensuring that a proper governance structure is in place that supports cooperation.
A CEM is the one who should be equipped with a strong set of both hard and soft skills. He/ she should also possess profound knowledge of the IT industry. Every CEM needs to be skilled in coordinating the work and dealing with complex, sometimes sensitive, issues. This requires someone who is proactive, assertive, stress-resistant, confident, flexible, creative and open-minded. Plus, it’s super important to have great social skills and plenty of empathy, to be able to put oneself in the clients’ shoes and look at anticipated problems from their perspective. Basing on our experience the CEM is critical to both sides of the cooperation.
Top 5 advantages of having a CEM in your IT partner company
- First point of contact
Dedicated Customer Engagement Managers often act as the first point of communication – they are the link between the client and people within the IT company – a highly approachable contact that is always there whenever needed.
In our organisation, CEM represents the client’s needs. As CEM is assigned to running the communication, other members of the team working on the project can focus on their responsibilities. CEMs are the ones who build a true network of relationships between the company and clients.
- Knowledge of the IT services offered
A CEM has to know the company’s offer inside-out in order to provide clients with the best possible advice and present the most relevant solutions – tailored to the customer’s needs. A well experienced CEM is able to recommend the business solutions that have already been used and proven to work in different projects.
What is more, our engagement managers don’t make empty promises, as they know our business domain, our abilities, potential and employees. They make sure that the team working on the project includes all the needed roles and people with particular competencies.
- Understanding your business goals
At Future Processing, engagement managers (with massive support from technical teams) analyse the plans and risks of the projects. As they know the clients’ businesses almost as well as they know their own company, CEMs are able to share the client’s needs with the development team ensuring that the contracted services are delivered in accordance with client’s expectations, on both the business and technical levels.
Additionally, CEMs are the right people to discuss problems the business faces with, as it is possible that, thanks to their experience and knowledge, the right ideas and solutions will appear. CEMs are the ones that talk with clients about potential new projects, future plans, political and economic issues that influence business, new services, successes, CSR, common initiatives and others. This allows us to prepare long-term strategies for our clients, and become their trusted IT partner for many years to come.
- Higher level of transparency
When there is a specific person assigned to run communications with the client – the entire workflow is more transparent and better structured. We put a strong emphasis on transparency in the discussions conducted by our CEMs during regular meetings with the Team Leaders. They are a perfect occasion to prove that the project is run in a transparent way. During the meeting, a CEM informs a client about e.g. any pending changes, performance against KPIs, progress reports for the current deliverable, any risks and issues and a way to address them.
CEM acting as a link between the contract’s sides ensures that both parties cooperate smoothly, know the actual stage of the project as well as the steps ahead, all in accordance with the agreements.
- Quick reactions
We are always open to feedback – happy to strengthen the elements that are good and respond appropriately to matters that need improvement.
Having a CEM ensures a greater level of agility and swiftness when it comes to reacting to problems or modifications, so clients are not kept waiting for too long. Our CEMs are the ones who listen to clients’ and, together with the whole team, work out solutions that would be satisfying for both sides of a contract. They significantly facilitate communication processes as they are always easy to reach and ready for action.
Pros of having a CEM from our perspective
It’s important to realise that our CEMs are not only useful from our clients’ standpoints but that they are essential for us as well. Why is that?
We are not just interested in finishing our tasks and then quickly moving on. We want to continue cooperating with our clients for many years and on many different projects. The main goal of our CEMs is to focus on developing and maintaining valuable business relations by building trust and reliability.
However, it wasn’t always like this. At the beginning, sales and customer support responsibilities were combined within just one role. But the more experienced we grew, the clearer it became that we needed to separate them. This change let the sales team focus on winning new clients and the Engagement Managers on maintaining existing ones. Thanks to this decision, these two processes are now much more effective and easier to handle.
From our perspective, Client Engagement Managers are indispensable in terms of:
- providing support during more difficult negotiation processes,
- identifying and managing risks,
- focused care of current customers,
- facilitating communication with clients, as well as between Future Processing’s Team Leaders and management.
The scale of the challenges to be faced in sales and customer service is enormous, especially with larger and more ambitious IT companies. When these challenges are concentrated within only one unit, there is always an area that profits at the expense of the other. Establishing two separate teams is in the best interest of both the organisation and their clients, helping every cooperation run more smoothly and more efficiently. Plus, the process of gaining new clients can then be approached with the same degree of intensity as building and maintaining relations with current ones, since we are organised along two lines.
Our sales team can work on expanding our client list while our CEMs can focus on providing these clients with the most valuable and satisfying products. Knowing the client’s business, we can tailor our solutions to what they need, contributing to faster development of their products. It’s a classic win-win situation, without chaos or poorly allocated resources.