Best Practices for Developing and Maintaining Long-Term Client Relationships

10/4/2016 1:36:00 PM
By Roger Patrick, COO, Whitlock

Whitlock’s mission is around the retention, acquisition, and development of mutually rewarding customer relationships. I am sure most of us always believed we were customer-relationship focused. I know I did. I thought because we bought into managed services years before many others, sold a ton of service contracts, put Whitlock employees on site, and maintained healthy recurring revenues that we were customer-relationship focused.

Then our executive team woke up one day and discovered we were not. We were so programmed around large projects and the best practices around delivering a good project experience, profitably, getting through training and handing it off to managed services and then on to the next building crane. Recognizing it was hard, but moving a big machine that had grown over years into a new direction has even been harder. We were doing large projects for organizations and even providing them support, while others were delivering large infrastructure solutions to those customers and even smaller projects all around our large projects. 

Once Whitlock developed our mission around enterprise and transforming our company to a real customer relationship organization, business to business, we had to convince many that we were not getting out of the large project business that had made us so successful. We just want to own more of the enterprise. It has been a journey that started with bringing in focused enterprise sales leaders from closely related technology and unified communications industries and has continued to now include new sales structures, full-time program (vs. project) managers, customer experience managers, solutions architects, a national enterprise resource group (SMEs), focused customer roundtables, regular stewardship meetings, service delivery managers, and so much more.

Last, but not least, it required executives leading by example through executive sponsorship. Regardless of our day-to-day focus areas on the executive team, whether sales, operations, finance, IT, marketing, or something else, we all take on executive sponsorships with several key Whitlock customer relationships. This has been a great success to ensure our customers feel supported from the top and that they have a voice. 

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