Case studies, whether real, or created to represent commonly encountered situations, are an invaluable way of learning and sharing approaches in a specific and practical way, rather than theoretically.
- You may be learning as a practitioner trying to establish how you or your colleagues in your own company would approach a situation, working it through with them to align your views, understanding and approaches to KAM and key customers.
- You can use these case studies for teaching as a trainer or lecturer, or for self-study as a student, especially as an AKAM Diploma student.
Case studies may come equipped with questions to discuss at the end, or it may be for you to define your own learning from the story.
The launch of the key account management programme occurred after the company received an RFP from one of their most important customers, which signaled their dissatisfaction and caused shock within the company. The decision by the Board to launch a KAM programme was in direct response to this customer’s defection. Use Wilson and Woodburn’s model of KAM failure to identify what went wrong and learn how it may be applied to other organisations, maybe your own company?
It is often easier to discuss what you think about what other companies are doing to find a way to express and determine the approach you want in your own company. If you have a concern about top management involvement with key customers in your company, whether you are a director or key account manager, get together a group of relevant colleagues and talk through these cases from Victor Wullink’s research. They can help you chart a route to agreeing what you would like to see in your own organisation and what might enable you to achieve it. Are you all agreed? Do you have very different views? Can they be aligned? How? Discussion kick-off questions included.
Girteka Logistics is a fast-growing trucking company based in the Baltics. How would you deal with a key customer requesting a huge refund on a project that had been completed to their full satisfaction at the time, signed off and paid for afterwards. Not surprisingly, after they made their request, discussions between customer and supplier became extremely emotional, and the relationship cooled afterwards. How should you deal with it? What approach would your company take? Who would be involved in your company, what would their views be, what influence would they have? Kristian Kaas Mortensen presented this case study in London in March 2019, where it raised an interesting range of responses: it's worth knowing what yours/your company's might be.
Premium Insurance is an entirely fictitious company, but the situations described will be recognisable to Key Account Managers in many other sectors. Conflict scenarios can be used to explore ideas about what constitutes a conflict and how it should/could be resolved, which is not only useful to facilitate discovery of your personal styles, but also how your company might wish conflicts to be handled. Do your colleagues agree? Perhaps your differences should be settled before you take on the customer? And how much conflict is internal and not a customer issue at all? Use these scenarios to get ready for when you hit a real conflict.
Zaris is a security company with three strategic business units and five key customers that represent over 20% of its business. The case study outlines the financials and a short portrait of each customer. This poses questions about the selection and categorisation of key customers; customer profitability; allocation of key account managers to key accounts; objectives and strategies; and organisational issues. You can impose your own questions and explore the issues within the context of this case.
This case study describes a day in the life of a key account manager that typifies the experience of many in the role. Is Andreas doing a good job? In some respects, yes, but perhaps not entirely. The case provokes valuable discussion on the role and execution of a key account manager's job, which can help an organisation clarify what it expects for itself and for its key account managers.
Maurice Daw tells how key account management spearheaded Unipart's strategy to build on its dominant but saturated position in the automotive sector to enter the challenging world of telecoms. Unipart started as a traditional third-party logistics provider with Vodafone and ended up with a unique ten-year contract. The relationship developed from 'hygiene factor' to offering Vodafone real competitive advantage through understanding the customer, creative strategic thinking resulting in a wider range of joined-up services and even new product development for the customer, backed by rigorous measurement.