FACTS is known for best-in-class customer service. Our high standards for accountability, trust, and communication with our partners starts with the FACTS account management team. I sat down with two FACTS account management leaders to learn more about how the team works, how they set goals for themselves, and what’s next.
Jaclyn: I’m lucky to know both of you already, but for those who will be reading this, what is your name, title, and how long have you been with FACTS?
Cheryl: I’m Cheryl Sanchez and I’m the director of K-12 client experience. I’ve been with FACTS for 22 years.
Traci: I’m Traci Wardman and I’m the manager of K-12 account management. I’ve been with FACTS for 19 years.
Jaclyn: Even though you both have been part of the FACTS family for a long time, what is a hobby or quirk that people might not know about you?
Traci: I absolutely love thunderstorms and especially loud claps of thunder. I get a little giddy when the clouds start rolling in on a hot summer evening, and I can’t wait for the storm to unload. I have been known to spend some time outside in a storm just watching the clouds form and listening for the thunder.
Cheryl: I really enjoy cleaning my house (as strange as that sounds). I feel such a sense of accomplishment when I am done!
Jaclyn: How would you describe the FACTS account management team and what they do every day?
Cheryl: The account management team wakes up each day and comes to work with a passion to serve each and every client. Their goal is to make every client they speak to feel like the only client we have.
Traci: They do so many different things. It’s an ever-changing role: every day is different. They are constantly learning new things, but everything they do is based on either building or continuing to foster a relationship with the client.
Jaclyn: What are five skills you need to have to be an excellent account manager at FACTS?
Traci: You need to have great communication skills, first and foremost.
Cheryl: And you need to be organized!
Traci: Yes, organization is key. And listening skills, attention to detail, and compassion for the client are important.
Jaclyn: What’s an account management success story that sticks out in your mind?
Cheryl: Oh, there are so many. Where do I start?
Traci: One off the top of my head happened to Brittney Cavender, an account manager who works primarily with Seventh-day Adventist schools. This [particular] school had recently been offered an incentive from another vendor to move away from FACTS SIS, and the school told Brittney, “We will never, ever leave FACTS for this other vendor because of the service we get from FACTS.”
Cheryl: Here is a direct quote from a school about one of our account managers, Jaclyn Sutton: “I wanted to let you know what an asset Jaclyn Sutton is to FACTS. She is very knowledgeable, personable, considerate, and polite. I feel like I have known her forever because that is how she makes me feel. She never makes me feel like I am interrupting her with all my questions. Dealing with customers is not always easy, but she always sounds like she has a smile on her face when she talks to me. During the difficult times I have had recently she has reached out to me and has been so kind. She always goes that extra mile. I just can’t tell you how much I appreciate working with her. She makes my job so much easier.”
Jaclyn: How do you define success for the account management team?
Traci: Success is measured in achieving goals and metrics; but more importantly, success is defined by thank you notes account managers receive stating how happy a school is because we solved a pain point for them that has been causing extra work, improved receivables by streamlining the collection process, and/or simplifying the financial aid selection process.
Jaclyn: Speaking of metrics, how do you measure customer satisfaction and work to continually improve in that area?
Traci: Aside from the usual methods, such as surveys, we measure satisfaction by retention and organic growth within current schools. We also monitor interactions with schools for quality, coach as needed, and have established a robust training program to prepare new account managers and enhance the knowledge of existing account managers. We continually strive to improve the school experience through active account management, which entails gaining an in-depth knowledge of how a school is using the system and providing solutions in a consultative manner.
Jaclyn: How do your teams ensure that new FACTS customers are happy with their experience and successful using our products?
Cheryl: The unsolicited feedback we get from clients as they move from implementation to maintenance, which is when an account manager takes over, helps us measure success and hone our process going over.
Traci: We have to be diligent and vigilant from day one. Every step is important, from the first sales interaction to implementation to account management. It requires coordination from team-to-team.
Cheryl: It means making sure that from the instant the sale is finalized we understand the expectations of the client and create a checklist for them that takes them through the process of onboarding in a methodical, efficient way.
Traci: We never want complacency with any of our client interactions. We want to always improve, and even though we have happy clients, that doesn’t always mean they feel like they’re successful when they sit down to work at their desk or need to pull a report. It’s up to us to measure what success means for each client and help them reach their goals.
Jaclyn: Account management is a tough job and they have to know tons of information and be able to communicate that to clients — all while working pretty long hours. What keeps your team motivated and excited to come to work each day?
Traci: We always start with a servant attitude. The team believes that they’re here to help schools be successful, and those success stories help motivate them to keep pushing forward.
Cheryl: They truly believe in our mission to support our clients. Clients always come first. The team is also a great support system to each other. There is lots of camaraderie and many friendships have formed within the group.
Jaclyn: How do you think the account management team will evolve over the next couple of years?
Traci: We hope to be at a point where we can be mostly proactive with our schools instead of balancing proactive and reactive roles as account managers. One of our goals is to get to a point where we can push success through proactivity.
Jaclyn: We have the FACTS Elevate user conference, formerly known as the Power Conference, coming up in July 2019. How do your teams play a role in the Elevate conference?
Cheryl: The best part about Elevate is that we utilize our associates’ knowledge and skill to train clients in person. It’s so valuable to meet clients in that face-to-face setting, both for the account managers and for the schools that attend.
Traci: It’s really important that a lot of the staff that we send to Elevate are FACTS account managers. They are the clients that actually have daily interactions with schools that work in and use our system. Who better to help you learn FACTS than the experts we have on the account management team?