By Danielle Matteson, Vice President, Strategic Accounts Program, AVI-SPL
AVI-SPL is a digital enablement solutions provider that serves 86 percent of the Fortune 100. It designs, integrates, manages ad supports on-site and cloud-based communications and collaboration technologies for organizations around the globe. AVI-SPL was the recipient of the 2021 SAMA Excellence Award for “Outstanding Mature SAM Program.”
Establishing a Customer-Centric GAM Program
The [GAM] program’s core mission is to form and maintain a trusted partnership with our clients that produces mutual innovation and value resulting in measurable outcomes.
Here at AVI-SPL we established our GAM program to drive long-term value through strategic alignment with our most valued global clients. Our program is oriented around three core, client-focused pillars:
- Culture: Create a customer-centric culture
- Trusted Advisor: Serve as a strategically aligned, trusted advisor
- Global Delivery: Optimize our client experience to consistently exceed expectations
Since the inception of our GAM program, we have seen more than 40 percent growth over projected revenue had we not created a strategic accounts program. We have exceeded industry benchmarks in revenue growth rates, wallet share expansion, customer satisfaction, and client engagement.
Achieving “Trusted Advisor” Status with Clients
A key priority has been to differentiate ourselves among our customers as a “trusted advisor.”
We invest in concrete, tangible actions that set us apart:
- Research: We performed primary research to understand where in the customer journey we could significantly impact the customer’s business. We conducted client interviews and facilitated group discussions through our customer advisory board. This research revealed that our clients’ greatest need for strategic alignment was in envisioning and maintaining a digital enablement roadmap.
- Development: We spent several weeks designing a tangible experience that could help address the customer’s “digital enablement roadmap” pain point. We developed a new program feature, the Tech & Trends Advisory Workshop series, to guide our customers through a journey of discovery, evaluation and strategic roadmap development.
- Flexibility: When the global pandemic rerouted our focus, we swiftly adjusted to meet our customer needs by leveraging the power of community. Virtually every company in the world was facing the same urgent problem of how to enable employees to work from home. We reimagined how to solve client challenges: by bringing the clients together.
- Community Building: We created a collaborative peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing opportunity by organizing virtual sessions and inviting senior technology and employee experience leaders of some of the world’s largest companies across multiple industries. Customers brainstormed new ideas for solving common problems and avoiding common pitfalls.
Reaching New Clients by Scaling the Existing GAM Program
Since the launch of our GAM program, the designated global accounts have expressed their recognition of improved strategic alignment and material change in their relationships and confidence in AVI-SPL as a trusted provider invested in their success.
A New Enterprise Account Management (EAM) Program
We successfully designed and launched the EAM program in just a few months by scaling existing processes and resources to impact more customers. Our GAM program represents the premium, global offering to our largest and most strategic global accounts. The qualification criteria are extensive, with only 24 customers in the GAM program as of March 2021.
We extended our existing GAM program to a new tier of customers. The new EAM program is focused on a national customer segment for whom we apply the same methodology and provide many of the same benefits as the GAM program but with more scalable resources and less extensive qualification requirements.
Four Steps to Successfully Scale
- Secure Executive Support: The advancement and growth of our strategic accounts program is an organization-wide effort, starting from the top. At launch, the GAM program was proposed by senior leadership and sponsored by our Board of Directors.
- Establish Internal KPIs: We measure the success of our practice by tracking specific KPIs, including satisfaction, loyalty, expansion, diversification, retention value and relationship equity value. We also monitor how effectively and quickly we achieve these KPIs:
- Monitor Qualitative KPIs: We also assess our program’s performance through KPIs such as account attractiveness, strategic alignment, value, relationship health and growth opportunities.
- Be a Customer Advocate: Beyond the validation we obtain from results and measurement of KPIs, we rely primarily on the customer’s voice to validate our program components and their effectiveness. In addition, we often engage with industry analysts and experts to study our customer bases and the impact of our services.
Generating Savings and Revenues through the New GAM Program
We engaged Forrester Research to help us quantify specific metrics to determine the impact of the GAM program over time. These metrics measure the client’s average impact since the launch of its program with AVI-SPL.
- Total Cost of Ownership: Average client savings increased 52 percent, from $5.5 million at program launch to $8.4 million today.
- Productivity capture: Average client saves 141,500 hours annually because meetings start on time and conference technology is more intuitive, a 4 percent increase from program launch. For the composite organization, that equates to $12.4 million over three years (up from $11.9 million at program launch) with a 25 percent productivity capture.
- Conference room utilization: Customers dramatically reduce the number and mix of conference rooms saving $1.4 million due to a 20 percent year-over-year increase in utilization.
- Reduction in internal user support teams: The average client reduced its internal user support teams by 58 percent and the composite organization reduced its internal support team from 31 to 13, resulting in a three-year savings of $3.6 million.
- Lower buildout costs: Service and hardware buildout costs are 20 percent lower with AVI-SPL than alternative vendors resulting in savings of $2.6M in buildout costs over three years.
Impact on Internal KPIs
We’ve seen dramatic, tangible results in our major program KPIs compared to our pre-launch state. Highlights include:
- Customer satisfaction: A 127 percent increase in average Net Promoter Score.
- Loyalty & expansion: A 230 percent increase in total wallet share with global accounts.
- Diversification: A 110 percent increase in mix of services.
- Relationship equity: As of December 2020, we have increased the total contract value of the program by approximately 50 percent, with eight net new Fortune 100 brands as a direct result of global account clients advocating on our behalf.
Three Key Learnings
- The experience of the global pandemic crystallized the importance of focusing equally on financially tied, quantitative metrics as intangible results, especially on relationship equity. As evidenced in the client praise we’ve received, the core value of a SAM program is to nurture and invest in the individual client relationships we have set out to grow and protect.
- The benefits of a SAM program can be successfully tiered to different levels of customer segmentation without diluting the experience or overtaxing the investment. The introduction of our EAM program has positioned AVI-SPL to deepen partnerships and earn relationship equity with a new tier of clients.
- Whether launching a new program or evolving an existing one, one of the most important focus areas should be to determine how to make the program’s customer impacts tangible. At AVI-SPL, we have followed the philosophy that our strategic account management practice is a product, complete with user stories, features and a roadmap.
We highly recommend taking the time to understand your product management process and explore how you can incorporate its principles into the development of your program. This will help your team innovate in meaningful ways that resonate with your customers as your program grows and matures.