Difference in Roles

Companies, especially those with complicated products or services, often run into the issue of the difference in roles. Companies aren’t sure about the lines between support, account management, and consulting. The first step is defining what the exact roles are within your company. Here is how I define them:
I typically look at support as reactive. The customer calls a general phone number or emails a general email address with their question, a case or ticket number is assigned, and then a pool of representatives responds. There usually isn’t a personal relationship with customers and the company. There are of course cases where individual representatives get to know individual customers, but that is simply because the customer and the representative have been there for however many months or years happens to be the case.

Account management.
Most companies define account management as a service role where the customer is assigned a personal account manager. Account managers develop a more personal relationship with the customer and work with the customer to resolve a majority of their needs. Essentially, the customer has an individual, as opposed to a group or a company, to turn to when they have an issue. Account management usually involves working with the customer to develop solutions that are best for them and doing so on an individualized and often proactive basis. It is a mix of sales and support with some consulting mixed in.

Consulting is the most involved of the three roles. Customers (usually referred to as clients by consultants) work with experts in a particular field (i. e. customer service or sales management). The consulting is usually hands on, it is customized, and while it helps to sell products and services, it does more than that. Consultants often work with products or services that aren’t made by the company and make recommendations that are beyond just the scope of the products and services offered by the company. An example is if a company is a client of a company like Oracle (which makes some CRM applications). They hire a consultant through Oracle not only to implement their new CRM from a technical perspective, but also to get the most out of the CRM throughout the rest of their company. It is part product training, part procedure and process design, etc.

Support is the least involved and consulting is the most involved, with account management in the middle. A future post (probably tomorrow) will be about deciding what your company should offer and perhaps most importantly, what should be standard.

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4 Responses to “Difference in Roles”

  1. Jennifer said:

    Mar 20, 08 at 2:25 pm

    Hi, I found your post from March 15, 2007 regarding HP and customer service. I am having a similar situation in that my four month old computer crashed and customer service is extremely limited on what they will do to help. They are going to replace the hard drive and send a tech out to perform the installation/removal. They will keep the old hard drive. My issue is the loss of data. They will not try to retrieve the files yet they tell me NOT to perform the system recovery because I will certainly lose the files that way. I talked to a CSR who was rude or at least appeared to be possibly due to his heavy accent that I had trouble understanding. He escalated my case to a supervisor who called me today and offered the resolution. I asked for them to ship me a new computer since this one was so new and I was going to lose everything.In addition I wanted to expedite the process of getting up and running again. I work from home and my computer is my work. I can’t afford to wait until next week. He said no. And was short with me and unapologetic. My last 7 computers have been HP/Compaq because I always liked their customer service. Even when the issues could not be resolved the CSR’s were polite and cheerful and very apologetic. I have recommended HP/Compaq whenever a friend or family member was computer shopping.
    I am losing photos that are irreplaceable.I understand I am responsible for backing up my data but the computer crashed shortly after transferring the important ones to the computer. I lost a fair amount of other data as well that I would have backed up as soon as I was finished working on it but the PC crashed while I was working on these things. I do however understand that S**t happens and that they are not responsible for my lost data. I am already out the data I feel that losing precious time waiting for the fix is unreasonable. I asked the case supervisor for a name of someone who might be able to help me since he could not. He said there was no one else I could talk to and even if there was they would not be able to help me. He said anyone higher up was not interested in this sort of thing since they were busy running the company.

    Is there anything I can do or am I being unreasonable? Thank you for your help in this matter, Jennifer

  2. Service Untitled said:

    Mar 20, 08 at 10:48 pm

    Hi Jennifer,

    I will forward your issue to HP and they will hopefully be in touch.

  3. Jennifer said:

    Mar 21, 08 at 9:11 am

    Thank you!

  4. » Defining Roles Contact Centers - Management, Human Resources, and Life: C3OC’s Contact Center Musings said:

    Mar 21, 08 at 2:29 pm

    […] Defining Roles Posted in March 21st, 2008 by Philippe Mesritz in Certifications, Customer Service, Management, OtherBlogs, Technical Support, Telemarketing/Sales Sign up to get free updates by e-mail! Service Untitled wrote a post about the “Difference in Roles” in a service organization.  His three definitions are Support, Account Management, and Consulting.  I think that he’s missed his naming/definitions a little bit, but let’s play along for the moment. Support is the least involved and consulting is the most involved, with account management in the middle. […]