At HireRight, our passion is helping employers to hire the right candidates for the right opportunities. We know that employers all over the world are seeing huge benefits to adding background screening to their talent acquisition strategies, including a better quality of hire, and improved regulatory compliance. However, the uptake of background screening programmes varies widely from region to region.
In EMEA, Account Management is a key part of the HireRight service, providing strategic and day-to-day support for our customers’ screening programmes. As HireRight Managing Director for EMEA, I’m proud to have oversight of our Account Management team, which includes designated Account Managers mapped to some of our key industries.
We have a large and growing team of EMEA Account Managers based in the UK, Poland, and working remotely, offering support in a range of languages including Arabic, Estonian, French, German, Italian, Polish, Russian, and Spanish.
Our Behind the Screens blog series has been exploring the regional nuances and people behind our background screening solutions. In this latest blog, I spoke with Account Director Alex Scott, Senior Key Account Manager Matthew Berry, and Account Manager Tomasz Ziomek about their roles in the account management team, why account management can be so important to customers, and what they think makes a great Account Manager.
How long have you worked at HireRight and what is your role?
Alex: I’ve been with HireRight for nearly 12 years and have worked in customer relations since 2013. I started as a Customer Service Representative, then moved to an account management role, becoming a Senior Key Account Manager in 2018, and being promoted to Account Director earlier this year.
Matt: I joined HireRight four years ago in January as an Account Manager, moving to a Senior Key Account Manager (Sr. KAM) role back in July 2021.
Tomasz: I started working for HireRight back in 2017. I initially worked as a Researcher, then in Customer Services, before moving to my current position as an Account Manager in February 2021.
Tell us a little about a typical day in your roles.
Tomasz: As an Account Manager, I spend a lot of my time on calls with my customers dealing with any daily queries they may have. While certain candidate queries can be quickly answered by our Customer Services team (e.g. password resets, issues around documentation uploads etc.), others, such as queries about our services, billing, or escalations, are usually managed by an Account Manager.
Matt: My role as a Sr. KAM involves assisting customers with the management of their screening programmes. This includes answering any questions they have about our processes or products, acting as a point of contact for escalations, and working with a wide range of internal teams to best support my customers and their accounts. The role includes lots of communication by email, regular conference calls (now by video), and data analysis. While we, and our customers, are largely working remotely these days, face-to-face meetings with our customers are still important, especially for relationship management.
Alex: I love the variety in my role as an Account Director – no two days are the same! I plan my time around my meetings, with both customers and members of various teams within HireRight, and I am also currently working on a few longer-term projects with customers. I tackle emails between meetings and relentlessly triage my inbox. I try to set some time aside each week to plan how I am going to engage with customers strategically and stay up to date with the latest news from our Product, Development, and Operational teams.
What role has Account Management played in supporting its customers throughout the pandemic?
Alex: Throughout this pandemic, I’ve seen communication as the core of my role, ensuring that my customers have the most up-to-date information from HireRight, and feeding back from my customers to the business. Early into the pandemic, things were quite uncertain, so it’s been important to me to keep close to my customers and make sure that they have what they need.
Tomasz: The role of an Account Manager is to maintain the relationships with their customers, while relaying information that we can collect internally to help them better understand anything that may be impacting their screening programmes, such as the pandemic. Without an Account Manager, customers would likely have been raising high volumes of escalations, as they might not have known about any delays broadly impacting turnaround times.
I think that situations like the pandemic have helped highlight the importance of the account management function. When unforeseen things occur, having a designated Account Manager who understands your business’ needs can really help.Matthew Berry, Senior Key Account Manager
Matt (continued): For example, when turnaround times in certain locations were impacted due to the pandemic, we were able to give specific, direct insights into the situation to help our customers manage their expectations. This would not have been possible without the account management channel to communicate the specific messaging needed by the customers.
Why is Account Management so important for certain customers and not required for others?
Matt: The need for Account Management depends on a few factors, including the scale and complexity of a customer’s screening programme. Not all accounts will need to have a named contact for any queries they may have. For those with a simple screening programme, or low order volumes, our Customer Services team can handle any queries they may have. It is customers whose screening programmes are evolving, covering many different countries, or perhaps with complex regulatory requirements to comply with that are more likely to see the benefit of an Account Manager working on their account.
Tomasz: As Matt said, it typically depends on how the account is set up, the number of products and the number of programmes the customer is overseeing. However, we believe that from time to time all customers can feel the value of Account Management, so we have introduced a new team of Account Coordinators in EMEA who are available to those customers with lower screening volumes, simple screening packages, or who do not feel they need a permanent Account Manager allocated to their account.
Alex: I completely agree –I feel that I can add value most where customers have more complexity in their screening programmes and requirements. This might be across lots of locations, or regulatory frameworks, or it might be that they have InfoSec or compliance requirements that need strategic management. For the vast majority of queries, our fantastic colleagues in Customer Services are going to give the quickest response.
How have things changed for the EMEA Account Management team since the start of the pandemic?
Alex: Working from home has been the biggest change for me, as it has led to exclusively interacting with customers virtually. While I love going to see customers on-site, I think virtual meetings have actually been a big benefit. For example, one of the vendor managers I work very closely with is based in the North-West of England and in 2019 I met her face-to-face a handful of times. Now, I can see her over video calls several times a week, and I have really appreciated that facetime with my customers. It’s also made it more normal to talk over video with customers based overseas.
Matt: The main change for me is the introduction of video calls. Pre-pandemic, we would have weekly audio-only conference calls with certain customers. These are all now conducted via video conference call, which I think really helps us connect better with our contacts and allows us to add more of our personality to the accounts. I am confident that we will keep up the video calls, even after more people have returned to the office.
Tomasz: I agree with Matt. Video calls are a big improvement on phone conference calls. I only joined the AM team earlier this year, so video calls have been the norm for me since moving into the role, and I can’t imagine working without them.
What do you like the best about your role?
Alex: In all honesty, I think I probably love my job more than anyone else I know. The people I work with, within my customers’ organisations and within HireRight, are fantastic. I really enjoy problem-solving – I find taking a complex requirement or problem from a customer and using a little creative thinking to turn it into a working practice really rewarding.
Tomasz: I really enjoy working with people and building great partnerships with my customers. I like that I have the freedom to choose how I maintain my customer relationships, and I enjoy solving any issues, being proactive, and finding new ways to continue to improve our service.
Matt: There’s lots to like about my role. I enjoy communicating with customers and partnering with them to help meet their needs. The role provides me with lots of opportunities to take ownership of things, work as a strategic partner with different customers, and empowers me to make a real impact with my work.
Finally, what do you think it takes to be a great Account Management professional?
Matt: First and foremost, you need to be personable. You need to be able to engage with customers, understand their needs, listen to any problems or concerns that they may have, and show that you’re a human and not a robot.
Tomasz: I think it’s important that you are customer-oriented to be a great Account Manager. You need to have a professional attitude, be able to prioritise and work under pressure, and be self-disciplined. I think the best Account Managers are the ones who are responsive, good at multitasking, and great at managing internal relationships with key stakeholders.
Alex: I absolutely agree – you need to fundamentally like people and get on well with people to do the job. Staying calm under pressure is useful, and being an optimist helps. The best customer relations professionals I know are naturally curious, inquisitive, and are persistent in bringing about positive change. With a lot to manage, hard work, self-motivation and organisation are a must.
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HireRight has grown its Account Management team throughout 2021 and plans to add more members to the team in 2022. For the latest vacancies in Account Management and our other departments, visit our EMEA Careers page. And stay tuned for the next update in our Behind the Screens series – a Q&A with two members of HireRight’s EMEA Customer Service team.