You show me a corporate break room without a ping pong table, and I will show you a company who cares not for its employees well-being. All offices need a ping pong table. Ping pong, or table tennis as it is also known, has climbed its way to the top of the podium of the office games. But it was not an easy ascension. Along the way, ping pong had to defeat the finger-smashing joys of air hockey, stand up to the stomach-stabbing thrills of foosball, and thwart the ever dangerous barbs of darts. And through it all, ping pong emerged victorious as king of the office games.
Why do myself and so many others adore this game? The list of reasons is too long to relate here. I will tell you however, of a likeness I have found between ping pong and account management, specifically account management within the transit industry. What follows are three lessons one learns by playing ping pong that should be whole-heartedly applied to account management.
- Each opponent and client is unique and should be treated as such.
The most fatal mistake a ping pong player can make is to approach each opponent with the same strategy. Your mighty forehand with a wicked topspin may well work against the majority of the individuals you face, but what happens when you meet your match in an opponent with an equally talented backhand? The same can be said for client relations. Each client DoubleMap serves is unique and deserves to be treated as such. There are many factors that go into providing a successful software solution such as DoubleMap or TapRide, and it takes a distinctive approach with every client to be successful. Some clients may wish for guidance at every turn, while others desire education and then independence. Neither request is wrong, and each should be honored respectively. The only way to know your client’s preference is to listen to them and observe how they work. So next time you go to start a ping pong match or speak with a new client, don’t start with the tried and true. Stop, watch, and listen. Then you will be successful.
2. When things go wrong, do not panic.
There have been times where I have fallen behind in ping pong matches and begun to panic. That panic influences how I play, and when I succumb to the sensation, I always lose. My opponent, sensing my uncertainty and doubt, immediately goes on the attack and secures the victory. I have noticed though, that if I stifle my panic and stick to the game plan, I nearly always regain the lead and take the win.
This experience is analogous to how one should relate to their clients. It is true that things go wrong. We do our best, but no service is perfect all the time. There will be hiccups along the way and as account managers we are responsible for seeing our clients through those moments. If however, you panic at the first sign of anything going wrong, your clients will sense that panic. They will sense what you feel and that emotion will affect how they view you, your service, and your company. As account managers it is our job to know our product, know our gameplan, and communicate confidence and assurance in times of turbulence. If you are truly confident, your clients will feel this confidence and trust you and your service perhaps even more than they did before the incident.
3. Always be expanding your toolbox.
To improve at ping pong, account management, or even life, one must always be expanding their toolbox. You will never be a great ping pong player if you never learn how to put backspin on the ball. You will never improve at client relations if you still interact with clients the same way you did on day number one of your career. You should always be looking to improve your game. Practice that cool new serve you saw on YouTube. Master those keyboard shortcuts and maximize your productivity and client response time. It can be done!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go extend my 30 game winning streak against Alex.