In my nearly 10-year career at E Source, I’ve focused primarily on residential energy-efficiency programs and related marketing approaches for residential customers. So I hesitated when I was asked to be the lead researcher on the 2011 E Source Account Management Assessment (AMA). However, I’m glad I took on the challenge because it was a great experience. I learned so many interesting details during the almost year-long AMA research project about the ways utilities structure their account management teams, as well as strategic approaches utilities use to provide effective account management to their business customers. I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned with everyone.
Some of the most interesting facts the research revealed include:
- At 92 percent of utilities, type of business or industry is the key criterion for assigning specific customers to specific account representatives
- The average number of customers assigned per account rep is 23
- Most account reps have 10 to 15 years of experience
- When making hiring decisions about business account reps, utilities put more importance on a candidate’s “soft” skills (like listening and customer service) than on technical and sales skills
- More than 56 percent of utilities create account plans for their most important customers
- Account reps spend most of their time on energy efficiency, relationship building, and administrative tasks
This was the first year of the biennial AMA study in which we asked utilities about account manager compensation and expense budgets. We found that the average annual base salary for most account reps is between $80,000 and $90,000. Only 3 percent of respondents paid account reps an average base salary of more than $100,000, and another 3 percent paid account reps less than $50,000 annually.
We also asked responding utilities about their business website practices. I found it interesting that only 38 percent of respondents engaged in the best practice of segmenting their business website content by business type (such as providing separate website content for lodging, grocery stores, and restaurants).
We asked about the hot topic of social media. We wanted to know how many utilities use tools like Facebook, Twitter, and blogs with their business customers. Although little more than half of respondents don’t use social media for their business customers, we found that the use of social media channels with business customers is growing. For instance, 38 percent of respondents used Twitter, and 27 percent of respondents used Facebook, while less than 10 percent of respondents used a company blog site to interact with business customers.
Check out these and other interesting account management facts and best practices in the E Source Account Management Assessment 2011 (for members of the E Source Business Customer Suite, Account Management, and Business Markeing Services), written by yours truly (@ESourceAlex) and my colleague Sarah Fiebiger (@ESourceSarah). We’ll be doing our next survey in 2013 to gather the latest and greatest intelligence on account management. Let us know if you’d like to participate!