Our recent round table discussion revolved around what stewardship means to each individual and how Advanced Medical Reviews’ work represents careful and responsible management with our clients. See what the account management team at AMR—Natalya Dawkins (Senior Client Success Manager), Akina Lantow (Account Manager), Ally Michailov (Account Manager), Norma Nevarez (Senior Account Manager), Fabeha Khan (Account Manager) and Thomas Hoevel (Account Manager), has to say on the topic and how it relates to account management.
What does stewardship mean to you?
Natalya: Stewardship is about choosing service over self-interest. It begins with a willingness to be deeply accountable for a body larger than yourself, be it a team or a client. It’s all important and is very much a part of AMR’s core values, which are selflessness, dedication and a can-do attitude! It means being a voice for our clients here at AMR; accurately representing and supervising the execution of their interests. Stewardship is the careful and responsible management of whatever is entrusted to our care by our clients. It is the handling and management of resources. Stewardship is the commitment to our partnership with our clients. Staying connected and continuously strengthening relationships with our customers and clients; gathering as much knowledge about our clients’ goals as we can in order to deliver the best service and product and therefore, meet all of their needs.
Norma: I believe stewardship is our responsibility as a company to define our client's goals and understand how they fit within our own services and role as an IRO. As Account Managers, we use that understanding to provide our clients with a holistic service. We want our clients to be able to depend on us and to execute the need they have. There’s a big element of building trust here.
Ally: To anticipate the need before it’s brought forth by the client by being in touch with every specific intricacy and knowing the expectation from the client plays a big part in our stewardship. It is about building trust with our clients and being able to have easy conversations to discover their needs. For example, I had a demo today with a client where I was able to figure out what their need was just from hearing a few points. This helped me develop and build a conversation with the client because I was able to realize their needs before they had figured it out themselves. By anticipating needs and listening, you can help build stronger relationships. Listening is a very big part of stewardship.
Norma: Another part of stewardship is not having the word "no" in your first response to a client and instead coming up with creative ways to make things work out. When you have the word "no" in any type of conversation or any type of request coming from your clients, you disengage from their expectations, and this can result in frustration. In certain cases when something isn’t possible, we always listen to the client to see how we can find a middle ground with them. To me, "no" is never an answer to a client with whom I'm trying to build trust and a relationship.
Fabeha: To me, stewardship is our responsibility as account managers to make sure we are carrying out the values that AMR upholds, as well as going above and beyond to meet our clients’ needs. One recent example was with a smaller client who submits disability cases. I didn’t believe the default template was fitting well, so I worked with our Clinical Quality Director to create a template with the specific types of disability fields that were more applicable for this client. This helped ensure we were getting the right information and delivering an accurate report for the client’s disability cases. The client reacted positively to this change and was very grateful that we went above and beyond. I think this is a great example of stewardship.
Akina: I express stewardship with my clients by giving my smaller clients just as much appreciation and personal attention as my larger ones. I enjoy having personal relationships and one-on-one interactions with clients, which facilitates natural stewardship. I’d like to believe having an open line of communication to make our small clients feel just as important as our larger ones has helped grow our business.
Thomas: Providing equal focus to our smaller clients shows every client that we're really here to serve them. To build a dynamic business relationship versus a static one, works with them and their needs. Having in mind that it’s mutually beneficial to help each other is a big part of stewardship.
How do you define account management and what makes a successful account manager?
Norma: As an account manager, you really have to be on top of what every department is doing at all times, including knowing the new specialties in our network, what our strongest specialties are or where there may be a lack of physicians. You have to keep all of this in mind when you're onboarding clients and accepting realistic requests. For example, it is not uncommon that a client may request a specific specialty and ask how confident we are in securing it when we are trying to pitch our services to them. These types of questions can only be answered accurately if we are keeping up with our interdepartmental conversations that may include IT, Operations and Sales updates and initiatives.
Fabeha: An account manager is a jack-of-all-trades, meaning you need to know a little bit about each department. You don’t need to be an expert in each department, but you need to be prepared in case a client comes to you with a question so you’re not caught off guard and can give them an accurate answer. Account managers are like the face of AMR because they are the liaison between the client and everyone working at AMR. They have to be well prepared to represent the entire company.
Ally: Being adaptable is important. The account manager role of today is not what it was six months ago or a year ago. It's always evolving, and you need to be able to adjust and grow as quickly as the role changes.
Akina: Account management is all about relationships. We must first and foremost have the trust and confidence as well as knowledge about our clients. Providing quick and dependable customer service is key. They need to know that I am a reliable partner to their organization. Taking initiative on projects, foreseeing potential problems by listening and making the space to consistently listen is crucial. I try to take the time to get to know each client individually, to foster strong relationships.
Thomas: In this role you're asked to take on several hats and be the final word as the liaison. Account management is an auxiliary department as in being there to assist other departments to keep our services running smoothly. Helping with operations and assisting with sales is a big part of the job.
Natalya: The role of account management is an integral one; everything flows through us. We are client advocates. As an account manager, we’re responsible for the management of both internal and external relationships and sales with each client. We work with internal departments to ensure client needs are understood and satisfied. We’re responsible for maintaining the health of AMR’s existing relationships as well as for strengthening and growing those partnerships. Account managers are also detectives and project leads whose business it is to drive client needs forward, as much as is feasible. The client communicates their needs to the account manager and the account manager peels back as many layers as necessary to ensure the client is getting what they truly want. Strong interpersonal skills, excellent communication, good negotiation skills, the ability to generate ideas and to prioritize and manage several different tasks at once are only some of the skills needed to be a successful account manager.
Norma: Another part of being a great account manager is being able to survive and make the most out of client feedback so that you are able to develop your skills by growing from whatever experience comes your way. Sometimes negative feedback can be just as good as positive feedback because it lets you know directly what the problem is and then build specific solutions for that client.
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