Modern Key Account Management Segmentation

Modern Key Account Management Relies on Proper Segmentation


Customer relationships have moved far beyond the typical sales cycle, specifically within the B2B space. Instead of ushering clients into the traditional sales funnel, brands must now focus on bringing top-notch service to their customers at every stage of the journey. But for those companies looking to juggle growing demand and heightened expectations simultaneously, it’s essential to segment their customer bases in order to establish which accounts are most vital to their continued success and deserve “trusted advisor” services.

Beyond all else, companies must first acknowledge that it’s impossible to treat all clients equally. Not only would such an approach be taxing on sales and service associates, but it would also put undue strain on the brand’s finances. Segmentation, however, enables leaders to assess and categorize customer relationships so they may provide each client with the appropriate attention. No matter the size of your company, resources can become strained if associates are forced to devote equal amounts of time to clients that don’t ultimately yield the same level of customer lifetime value.

Segmentation offers companies an opportunity to add value through maximizing the use of their products / services. This added value (trusted advisor services) is reserved for those customers who meet the segmentation Tier I / Tier II criteria as shown below.

Below is a basic account segmentation example:

Tier I: Significant annual revenue and / or strategic value

Tier II: Potential significant annual growth and / or customer lifetime value

Tier III: Remaining customer accounts

When developing your company’s segmentation strategy, however, leaders must ask the core questions that’ll determine which accounts are essential for current / future growth:

  1. Which customers qualify for trusted advisor services now / future?

  2. What changes must the company make throughout the organization to achieve this desired level of segmentation?

  3. How will the company measure the value (ROI) of segmentation?

Forming deeper, more targeted relationships affords brands increased loyalty, sales, and profits, while customers enjoy an enhanced experience that adds value to their bottom line. Exceptional service must be the baseline for all, but leaders need to build upon this solid foundation to preserve and expand their relationships within key accounts. In recent years, Big Data has forced companies to sift through the “white noise” that threatens to cloud their understanding of those they serve. Segmentation, while not an exact science, allows leaders to organize customers into manageable groups that promise to add clarity to an increasingly perplexing, saturated market. Companies must ask themselves: Are you willing to earn “trusted advisor” role?

Once your company has developed its own solid segmentation strategy, it will be easier to determine which customers require key account protection program (KAPP). KAPP theory is based on “the process of building long- term mutually beneficial relationships with your most valuable accounts. Many of CRMI / Marketii clients of the NorthFace ScoreBoard Award (NFSB) for customer service excellence, have added (KAPP Relationship Survey) component to their existing CX strategy.

Leader must evaluate both revenue and strategic value in choosing key accounts. Leaders must also limit the number of assigned key accounts to start because overcommitting the company puts their reputation and the reputations of their customers at risk. By starting small, brands can ultimately position themselves as leaders within the given market as they strategically fine-tune their ability to help key accounts excel.

Key account managers are also an integral part of your company’s success. Though it might seem logical to promote your best salespeople to key account managers, leaders must recognize that this role requires special training and skill. These employees aren’t merely trying to sell or upsell to these clients. Instead, they’re responsible for expanding these strategic relationships. They will need to develop an intimate understanding of the client they are working with so that they may collaborate effectively and proactivity.

KAPP, after all, must become interwoven with the fabric of your brand. It’s not some lone offshoot? it’s an enterprisewide policy. Key account managers must be evaluated using metrics that prioritize the lifetime value of the customer, as these associates are tasked with establishing and maintaining rapport with clients that’ll prove most beneficial to the bottom line of both parties.

Ideally, those heading these key accounts will become so intimately evolved that clients will no longer see them as vendors, but instead as partners (trusted advisor) who have nothing but their interests at heart. At this point your brand has moved beyond selling, therefore, the buyer-vendor relationship has transitioned to the client-partner phase. If clients perceive you as their vendor after you’ve deemed them one of your key accounts, then it’s likely both the company and the account manager have failed to convey the client’s worth.

In general, vendors are seen as companies that aim to sell products and solutions even when they don’t satisfy the needs of the customer in question. They push their services despite the fact that their offerings fail to address the customer’s specific situation. They neglect to tailor their sales approach to accommodate those with which they seek to do business. Partners, however, are proactive. They foresee challenges and offer solutions before problems arise. They’re reliable and honest. They treat the client with dignity, respect, and overtime earn their “trusted advisor” role.

Trusted advisors, first and foremost, are in relationships for the long haul. They understand that the customer’s success begets their success. Trusted advisors know that, to prosper, they must communicate clearly and hold themselves accountable in their effort to lift the client up and never let them down. Ultimately, key account management depends upon services rendered after the sales team has worked its magic. Service has become an undeniable differentiator throughout today’s market, but when it comes to key account management, it’s not just ideal – it’s critical.

About the Authors

Bill Moore is Vice President of CXDNA Practice for Customer Relationship Management Institute LLC (CRMI) ( He delivers (CXDNA) strategies best practices training / workshops, as well as CEMPRO employee soft skills certified training programs, that raise employee’s customer service awareness – competence – operational practices resulting in employee’s who continuously exceed customers’ expectations.

Duncan Heal, President/CEO for Market Intelligence International (, where he oversees the activities of the company’s marketing / sales, customer experience operations team and professional consulting group. Marketii is a global market research firm that specializes in the area of customer satisfaction with service quality surveys (25 native languages), reporting, feedback, analytics and consulting.

Contact Diane Rivera, Director of Membership Services email: Tel: 978-710-3269 to learn how your organization can prevent competitors from winning your accounts.

Destructive data mistakes in customer experience

CX Network looks at two data mistakes that hinder customer experiences: Data silos and the big data myth.

It is a fact of business that poor data practices have the ability to do real damage to customer relationships. After all, as Emmanuel Obadia , VP of Marketing at Oracle, states: “Data is the foundation upon which you can build the entire customer experience (CX) effort. It’s blood to CX. If you don’t have data, you can’t go anywhere.”

When customer data resides in several isolated pockets in a portfolio, the conflicted customer view can trip up multiplay providers when they attempt to identify a customer across multiple lines of a business. If a brand fails to recognise that a customer is simultaneously subscribed to various products they could send communications that are anything but targeted: For instance, sending a customer an enticing offer for a product they already have at a lower price point than they paid for it. During a time where people expect convenience and personalisation, this sort of insulting mistake can do real damage to a customer’s perception of a brand and even push them to switch to a competitor company.

It’s not just a lack of data integration that can be harmful; too much integration can be damaging when you have several groups in a company capturing data. Flimsy governance procedures could result in customers suffering from “creepy” experiences where they are unsettled by unexpected preemptive actions. This can occur when data is borrowed or cross-referenced between divisions in a company. Safeguarding procedures are needed to ensure that customers retain control.

Poor data practices like these will hold companies back from progressing to providing sophisticated predictive customer experiences. A truly unified view of customer data is integral to unleashing the power of artificial intelligence (AI), or more specifically, machine learning in a compliant manner.

In this article we look at two data mistakes that are hindering customer experiences: Data silos and the big data myth.

Data silos

Data silos were labelled as the top customer experience challenge by CX Network members in our latest research. Many organisations across the world struggle to bring innovation into their businesses because of legacy systems. A lack of interoperability between systems results in data being trapped within individual sections of the tech stack. This forces companies to compromise on the quality of the end product and experience due to antiquated (but well-embedded) technology. Despite it being a tall challenge, especially in larger companies, it is a mistake for brands to ignore the value of breaking down data silos.


How to overcome silos 

Betty Chuah, senior manager of EMEA retailer consumer insights at Volvo Cars, notes the importance of having a global CX team with the global responsibility to govern the CX vision and battle silos.

“In many companies the IT department was founded many years ago to handle all the information from customers and today they are in separate departments,” she explains. “I [have] seen some companies have combined digital and customer experience departments and are striving towards having one customer dataset to have the complete customer journey map out and control all the data.”

Darya Vselubsky customer success manager at travel software start-up Triptease, agrees that transparency is vital to defeating data silos and innovation blocks.

“Transparency is the key to overcoming any data silos and listening to the customer needs,” Vselubsky remarks. “Customer success teams in general are really crucial as they’re the glue that will connect customers to data to product.

“Product teams may have an idea of customer needs and some of the things that they can do with data. But unless there is transparent communication, which is of course nurtured by customer success teams, there will be misunderstandings that could lead to product development that’s not easy to use or necessary, which will lead to churn and product failure.”


Overcoming silos 

In the eyes of James Alexander, Decisioning Director at London based media company Sky, the key to enhancing the digital customer experience for connected customers starts around the concept of identity, gluing together all the different interactions as much as possible into an actionable profile.

Alexander explains: “First of all, it allows you to get much better visibility of what’s going on with your customers. In particular, how they interact with you on your websites, your apps, your call centre and other channels across all of those silos in the organisation. Combining this with key bits of core customer data provides an incredibly rich asset that allows you to really understand your customers.

“Typically, as you integrate the data and marketing technologies to construct the customer profile, it also allows you to go in the other direction and execute a tailored experience at the individual account level.”


Big data myth

Another data mistake that causes fragmented experiences is the misconception that quantity is more important than quality. ‘Big data’ as a phrase isn’t as prevalent as it was a few years ago. As mentioned by CX expert Shep Hyken in The Big Book of Customer Insight, Data and Analytics 2018: “Big data is really another way of saying too much data, and when you have too much it gets confusing.” In fact Sherif Mityas, Chief Experience Officer at TGI Fridays, believes the quantity-over-quality viewpoint is perhaps the biggest data mistake a company can make.

Mityas says: “The biggest mistake is thinking you need to have all the data. When we first started TGI Fridays, everyone told us: ‘You have to collect all the data, create the data links and put all the data into one system.’ There was the assumption that more data was better, but this is false. More data is just more noise; it’s not relevant and it’s expensive.

“Instead, it’s about collecting the right data, the data that will create a difference in the action you want to deliver. Data that will inform your AI tools to create a better, relevant and more personalised message.”

A blind focus on data quantity over quality could have damaging results when it comes to AI. Thierry Derungs, Chief Digital Officer at BNP Paribas Wealth Management, acknowledges that AI is always starving for data and “its hunger is gastronomic”, but he maintains that data quality is still compulsory.

“[The classic phrase is] garbage in = garbage out, but with AI it is even stronger because it’s garbage in = total mess out,” remarks Derungs. “You really need to understand what your intelligence is doing, especially if you have machine learning or deep learning. If you cannot be sure that your data at the entry is of the top quality, then understanding what your intelligence is indicating or building as a model will be very difficult.”


The power of data quality over quantity

Shep Hyken notes that the best people in marketing analytics will be aware that they only need a few select, but crucial, pieces of data to complete their objectives.

“You’ve got to look at who are we going after and what data is important, and recognise that you can’t be all things to all people,” Hyken explains.

“Systems today are more powerful than ever and have made it easier than ever to understand your different customer segments,” he adds. “Most companies typically have four to six main types of customers. When you understand what those four to six are, then you recognise you don’t need to be everything to everybody, but be as much as you can to those four to six groups of customers and split them up, market to them appropriately and service them appropriately.”

Interested in conquering your data mistakes? Join hundreds of other CX practitioners at CXN Live: Customer Insights and Analytics for exclusive data strategies from the likes of Paypal, TGI Fridays and start-up Triptease. 

Want to Capitalize on Customer Service Excellence? These 14 Key CX Marketing Activities Can Help.

Of the three primary disciplines in business—marketing, sales, and service—customer service has the power to make your company stand out amongst the competition. After all, a recent American Express survey stresses that seven out of 10 U.S. consumers say they have spent more money to do business with a company that delivers great service. Yet, while countless companies offer excellent service, few take the time to tout their CX strategy, thereby leaving them to blend with their competitors.

“Customer service is of critical importance to your business because it’s key to retaining the customers you close and extracting more value from them,” Swetha Amaresan writes for HubSpot. “By providing top-notch customer service, businesses can recoup customer acquisition costs and cultivate a loyal customer base that will refer friends and colleagues, serve as case studies and testimonials, and write customer reviews.”

Amaresan adds that, not only are happy customers more understanding and less sensitive, but they’re also your brand’s best advocates, as they can convince prospective new customers of your company’s merits more effectively that your own marketing materials and salespeople ever possibly could.

Customer service, therefore, plays an increasingly pivotal role in your company’s continued success, as today’s saturated, fast-paced market leaves little room for error (or modesty).

“With consumers facing so many choices with who to do business with, you need to set yourself apart from the rest,” R.L. Adams explains for Entrepreneur. “What makes you different? What added value do you bring to the table? Why should a customer work with you rather than your competitor? We’ve all heard the horror stories of people dealing with poor customer service. Yet, we seldom hear the raving-fan stories.”

But your brand has the power to highlight these stories and share its successes. By embracing these 14 key CX marketing activities, your team can use its own history of superior service to support its legacy of satisfaction and loyalty


 1.  Customer Satisfaction Annual Report

Much like your company’s annual fiscal report, this summary allows you to convey the results of your customer experience strategy with your stakeholders and customers.


2.  Voice of the Customer Video

Interview your top executives to provide the public with high-level insight into your CX strategy and what you are doing to sustain customer loyalty.


3.  Case Studies & Customer Testimonials

Allow your stakeholders and customers to shine the light on your success by sharing their own stories and experiences with your brand and expertise.


4.  CX Certified Report Card

By partnering with an outside analytics organization, your brand can provide customers and prospects with a third-party audit of your company’s exceptional customer satisfaction data.


5.  Intelligent Visual Communications

Project your CX content in real time via dynamic, multimedia LED dashboard displays and handheld devices to promote and improve transparency.


6.  CX Infographic

Share the story behind your CX strategy and how you serve your customers through engaging graphics that clearly highlight your brand’s continued efforts to satisfy and delight.


7.  Public Relations

Make sure customers and prospects are sufficiently informed by sharing your successes through news releases, newsletters, white papers, and other such collateral.


8.  Social Media

Connect with your customers and prospects where they live by tapping into social networks, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to share your wins and announcements.


9.  Live Video Streaming

Create an online event that captures your CX story as it happens and reach your customers and prospects by embracing today’s most engaging, fastest growing medium.


10.  CX Podcasts

Participate in or develop a branded podcast that highlights your CX story so customers and prospects can listen to at their convenience.


11.  CX Webcasts

Join an established webcast or develop your own series so your company can tout its successes and your top executives can demonstrate their expertise in their industry.


12.  Competitive Satisfaction/Loyalty Analytics

Demonstrate your CX strategy’s effectiveness by illustrating its measurable business impact through competitive satisfaction and loyalty analytics that reinforce your success.


13.  Customer Events

Invite customers and prospects to come together so you can simultaneously show your appreciation and highlight your company’s countless CX success stories.


14.  CX Awards

Leverage industry awards, such as CRMI’s NorthFace Scoreboard and CEMPRO, to demonstrate and reinforce your brand’s customer service excellence within its industry.

Not sure where to begin? Reach out to CRMI directly for quickstart tips and successful hints that will help your brand stand out amongst the fiercest competitors in your industry.

Adopting CX Technologies That Maximize Enterprisewide Efficiency

Adopting CX Technologies That Maximize Enterprisewide Efficiency

Despite constant advancements within the technology space, companies often struggle to adopt the latest tools as they become available. Implementation isn’t just costly—it’s also confusing. Leaders might claim their organization remains on the cutting edge of their given industry, but it’s practically impossible to keep pace with the ever-changing landscape. Instead, brands must establish which technologies will help their employees conduct business with maximum efficiency so they don’t spread themselves too thin as they integrate and embrace these practices.

Legacy systems, for instance, pose major problems, as many are obsolete and difficult to work with, often leading to siloed data and integration issues down the line. While the systems comprise critical historical information vital for customer experience programs, these systems might also contain irrelevant customer data and can be inflexible, as they weren’t designed with the modern customer journey in mind. Now that customers dictate the discussion across digital touchpoints, companies must evaluate scalable, more agile technologies that can better support desired engagement strategies.

While contact centers are often slower to adopt these new technology solutions, cloud capabilities now act as an essential weapon against these siloed legacy systems of yesteryear, as many brands falter under the weight of old investments that no longer support the customer experience. Because cloud technology allows for greater growth within the contact center, allowing companies to adapt to changes in customer service as needed, cloud applications will inevitably be the key to better seamless, omnichannel customer experiences overall.

Cloud technologies also enable companies to scale new additions up or down as they see fit in accordance with brand and customer needs. From speech analytics, to social media automation, many vendors now allow companies to purchase solutions on an a la carte basis so they need only spend money on those tools they truly require to elevate the customer experience to the next level.

While it might seem ideal to adopt each new CX technology, leaders must first determine what their company hopes to achieve with regard to customer experience. Many tools simply distract from this underlying mission, as they force employees to focus more on the technology and less on the customer. Not all tools are intuitive or useful within the context of the given brand. Leaders must begin by establishing enterprisewide goals, as doing so will guide them down the correct path to tech adoption and integration.

Ultimately, CX strategy should focus upon what customers want from their relationship with your brand. All other business decisions should grow from this factor. CX strategy varies from company to company, so leaders will likely need to do some soul searching to determine what’s necessary and what’s frivolous with regard to tech adoption. Most new tools are designed to facilitate and improve conversations between company and customer, so it’s critical to only tap those technologies that clear said pathways. Some systems might seem innovative and enticing, but if they lack purpose within the context of your business, the added noise will only push customers to the competition in the end.

Companies often neglect to align their decision journey with customers’ needs. Leaders tend to get caught up in what’s trending at the moment without considering the impact said technologies will have internally, in terms of employee engagement, and externally, in terms of customer satisfaction. Instead, companies must take one step back so they can examine the complete customer journey and create an omnichannel approach that takes every touchpoint into account.

Regardless of the specific technologies adopted, true impact and efficiency can only be measured by the success of those tasked with implementing and employing these tools. Leaders must understand that new technologies are useless unless their employees can use these tools to their greatest advantage. Leaders must also realize that CX success requires collaboration across the organization now more than ever. Technology should empower employees at every level to provide the best customer experience possible.

Modern employees seek purpose-driven roles. Individuals at every level want to feel like their part of an internal community, as it connects them to the brand and makes them feel as if they’re part of something greater than themselves. They also wish to help the customer in ways that better their lives, as doing so makes these employees feel as if they’re making the world better. By integrating technologies that enables your team to achieve these personal goals with maximum efficiency, you’ve also empowered them to take all subsequent customer relationships to the next level.

Customer experience success will ultimately depend upon how leaders choose to invest internally with regard to both technology and talent. By providing employees at every level of the organization with the tools necessary to achieve business goals, all members of the company will feel connected to the brand’s underlying mission, inspiring everyone to create the best customer experience possible. After all, customer experience strategy doesn’t succeed simply because the proper technologies are in place. Instead, customer experience excels when employees can use those tools to preserve and promote both satisfaction and loyalty at every touchpoint.


About the Authors

Bill Moore is VP of CRMI. He designs and delivers CEM best practices workshops, as well as CEMPRO employee loyalty, training and retention programs, that result in the increasing customer satisfaction, employee retention, and profitability for CRMI clients.

Tony Santilli is VP, Client Services, for Marketii U.S. Inc., where he oversees the activities of the Customer Experience Operations Team and Professional Consulting Group. His in-depth experience as a service team leader and expertise as a sales leader has led to consistent double-digit growth.

12 Technologies That Support CEM

The foundation of a customer-centric culture is a structured, measurable customer experience management (CEM) strategy. Companies can support and enhancing those strategies with enabling technologies. There are 12 types of technology that can play a key role is managing, interpreting, and improving various aspects of the customer experience.

Work Force Optimization
We all know it takes engaged employees to deliver consistently superior customer experiences. Take the omni-channel approach to employee-customer engagement by tapping into phone, email, online chat, social media and other methods of direct customer interaction. Based on the appeal of video games, mobile apps and streaming content, gamification has also proven to be effective in engaging employees for greater performance. The key is to balance the needs of agents and customers to optimize productivity and CX.

Field Service Management
Although an increasing amount of customer service is done remotely and/or online, there is still a considerable amount of direct customer service performed in the field, either at customer locations or a company’s own field service centers. Starting with initial contact with the customer, where field service incidents are created, it’s important to provide tools to both support the resolution and to allow customers to stay informed/provide feedback and ultimately be satisfied with the outcome.

Help Desk Management
Help desks generally are internal operations that assist employees and business partners to manage their various IT assets. Start by hiring and training good employees who are inspired to provide exceptional support. Have a well-defined Service Level Agreement (SLA) in order to provide optimal, first-level support service to all departments. Make it a priority to develop a helpful culture where issues are tracked end-to-end and nothing slips through the cracks.

Knowledge Management—Self-Service—Remote Support
These three CX technologies are inter-related. Knowledge Management (KM) sets the framework and strategy for an organization’s culture and processes that management uses to install enabling KM technology that fits with its corporate politics. Self-service portals offer authorized users an omni-channel approach to getting the information they want to solve their questions and operational issues. And of course, remote service and support typically are functions of KM and self-service.

EFM—Business Intelligence—CX Certification
These three CX technologies are also inter-related. EFM systems handle customer data collection and analysis based on that data. Business intelligence tools dig deeper to perform more advanced discovery, apply predictive analysis to help define future customer behavior and/or business impacts, and provide extensive enterprise reporting. CX certification training is gaining more importance as organizations recognize the need to be certified in the principles and tactics of effective CX training to best leverage the EFM and BI outcomes.

Big Data—Text Analytics—Speech Analytics
Clearly these CX technologies are joined at the hip. Big data is a way of aggregating and examining the huge amount of CX/CEM data collected to uncover both obvious and obscure patterns and inter-relationships. With text mining and analytics technology, you can analyze text data from the web, social media, comment fields, books and other text-based sources to uncover insights you hadn’t noticed before. Speech analytics has a similar intent as text analytics, but it works with unstructured spoken words to determine frequency of comments and sentiment to measure positive, neutral and negative remarks.

Sales Force Automation
SFA was the application that essentially launched CRM decades ago. The idea is to build a database of every meaningful detail about customer purchases, demographics, and needs and wants so the organization can pinpoint what products and services a given customer may purchase in the future. SFA addresses the various tactical functions that affect CX execution.

Marketing—Social Media Automation
A natural extension of CRM and SFA, marketing and social media automation incorporates everything you need to know about your leads and customers in one place. Since social media channels have such an impact on marketing and customer relationships, it just makes sense to consider them together.

Innovative Inscription—Omni-channel—Intelligent Visual Communications
Customers expect omni-channel experiences through multi-channel engagement with vendors and suppliers. This is part of the evolution in customer buying behavior that has changed the landscape of traditional customer engagement. Understanding which customer experiences and touchpoints are driving the best results can be a challenge. Omni-channel platforms capture the importance of using multi-channel marketing to effectively reach, engage and convert your customers. Trial and error is typically a necessary approach to finding the right channel mix for each type of customer.

Online Community Forum Management
Online communities exist everywhere today, from general purpose channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to specialized communities we all know, such as CustomerThink, CCNG and CRMxhange. But managing these forums effectively is a matter of governance.

  1. Agree on your forum governance model. How involved do you want to be in managing your forum?
  2. Agree on intervention protocols. What kind of comments, questions and issues are going to prompt a facilitator intervention?
  3. Determine intervention procedures. What are your approval processes for releasing intervention content?
  4. Determine intervention responsibilities. Who is your primary facilitator/site manager?
  5. Ensure proper training for facilitator/site manager. Can someone with extensive customer service experience handle the site? Do they need specialist media training?
  6. Ensure community members know rules of engagement. Make sure the moderation rules are appropriate for your forum.

Professional Services Automation
Most organizations either have their own professional services team, use resources from a vendor/supplier, or bring in a specialized third party. Examples of PSA applications:

    • MSP/IT Services: Control IT Business
    • System Integrators: Provide Comprehensive Support
    • Software Companies: Gain Visibility Between Development and Support
    • Cloud Services: Manage, Monitor and Bill
    • Point of Sale Resellers (POS): Evolve to Retail IT


IVR/ACD Automation
We’re all familiar with these systems. They’re the anchors of contact center operations and some of the oldest examples of CRM technology. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) allows a computer to interact with humans using voice commands or tones from a telephone keypad. Technically, IVR lets the caller enter an “ID” or account code, then provides access to a database. This is where the “interactive” part comes in. For example, bank credit unions often have “phone bank” systems that allow you to conduct transactions. Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) systems answer incoming calls and allow the caller to choose a menu, group of extensions or singular extension to which the call is routed. Contact centers use ACDs to organize incoming calls into queues of callers waiting to speak with an operator or service person.


CX Technologies is one of 12 elements that comprise the CEMDNA Playbook Strategy.