Lost key personnel?: Three ways to keep your customers and partner agents close
Losing key staff is normal in business. Reasons for losing key staff can come from all directions. They can be business reasons. For instance, someone was fired. Someone took a job somewhere else. Someone retired. And reasons can be personal. Someone moved. Someone became ill or passed away. As a business manager it is extremely important to do your very best to keep your customers and agents with your company. Years of work on accounts can go right out the window if your clients and agents became “married” to the newly departed staff members. There are no silver bullets to keep this from happening but the main way you can combat this is to enmesh other staff members into the business. Have multiple points of contact with your customers and keep good relations with them.
Here are three points of action I recommend:
- Make sure that the “point people” with your various clients keep other important staff updated on what is going on with the clients. Share information. Each company has their preferred ways to do this. Reports, meetings, etc. (I prefer it in sales meetings.) But make sure to keep the information out there where important staff are up to date on what goes on with your key customers. And not just in a passing way. In as much of a personal way that you can.
- Be sure, whenever you can, to send junior staff to networking meetings. By sending junior staff to network meetings to meet the overseas agents they will gain that crucial “face-to-face” exposure that helps grease the wheels when dealing from the long distances that logistics companies work through.The agents will also become familiar with more than one contact to work through with their business so that they have that crucial back up that businesses often need. This will have other side effects with your junior staff as well. It will create company loyalty, show that you believe in their professional growth and give them experience that is hard to come by. That said, when start thinking of who to send I would recommend looking at the staff who not only have a future with your company but also those who you believe will stay with you for a mid- to long haul.
- Make sure to keep more than one or two people at your company listed as points of contact. Of course, many companies do have people who are responsible for agency relations or who are responsible for certain key accounts. However, these are the very people who your company will be lost without if your clients and agents don’t know who to reach as a back up. So if you have a company directory list that you present to agents and you send contacts to your network, make sure to list all major points in a department. It isn’t rare that companies pare down these lists to one or two people due to the fact that there might be frequent personnel changes, you might be afraid of the ‘cc everyone in the world’ types, etc. However, if you are more afraid that business might walk out the door when key players in your business do you will need to let clients and agents not only know who the back up people are as well as the key points of contact.
Nobody ever wants to have key players leave the team but if you want to have a back up, give some thoughts to these points. Better now than after you’ve found out someone is going, or worse yet already gone.
Gary Dale Cearley is the Managing Director of Advanced International Networks Ltd. (AIN), one of the fastest growing and most dynamic business-to-business networking organizations in the world. AIN’s networks include AerOceaNetwork (AON), XLProjects Network (XLP), and AiO Logistics Netowork (AiO). Gary Dale has been in many facets of international freight forwarding for more than two decades from operations to sales to the owner of the first 100% foreign owned freight forwarding company licensed in Vietnam. The companies that he has been involved with have been both generalists and specialists. He has also worked from large European and Asian multinationals (Danzas and Hankyu Express) as well has small start up forwarders. For the past ten years Gary Dale has owned and operated AIN. He has lived in several major cities in four different countries and he is multilingual. Currently Gary Dale runs the AIN operation from Bangkok, Thailand, but travels the world over. Gary Dale welcomes all sorts of interactions. If you have questions or comments about anything Gary Dale has written here you may contact him directly by e-mail.