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Case Study: How to Successfully Keep Key Account Plans Live

The following case study has been extracted and edited from  Implementing Key Account Management.

As a leading facilities management (FM) provider, EMCOR UK is responsible for some of the most regulated, secure and technically challenging workplace environments in the world. Key account management (KAM) is a critical factor in EMCOR UK's continued success and growth.


An influx of new FM market entrants since 2005 has resulted in increased buyer choice along with commoditized FM procurement and buyer behaviour. Faced with these challenges, EMCOR UK recognized the need to move away from traditional FM approaches and place customers at the centre of their business strategy. This meant reshaping the business, developing a customer-centric business model, and creating a ‘people first’ culture. A deep understanding of the needs of customers is key to retention, and to achieving sustainable business growth. KAM offered a proven approach that clearly aligned with the core business strategy and facilitated the following goals:

  • placing customers at the centre of the business;

  • improving sales returns across each service capability;

  • differentiating from the competition in a crowded market;

  • engaging all employees in developing and delivering cutting-edge customer solutions;

  • creating a networked best practice community across the business.

EMCOR UK approached Cranfield University to help build a KAM learning and development programme for customer-facing management and executives as well as KAMgrs. Over 200 employees have since gone through KAM training in less than 10 years.

As part of their strategic planning process, EMCOR UK developed a bespoke KAM Management System to support application, planning and implementation. This is aligned to the Britsh Standard (BS11000:2010) framework for Collaborative Business Relationships - which is an International Standard (ISO44001:2017).

To further support KAM, EMCOR UK invested in the development of advanced information management IT solutions, enabling account managers to make high-level, customer-focused recommendations and tactical decisions backed by high-quality data.

A company-wide approach

Account managers and a variety of functional support teams all take part in the programme; it is also a key element of succession planning. Integrating KAM across the entire workforce ensures seamless support for customers from account planning and objectives to action plans.

The fusion of people, knowledge, systems and process enables account managers to analyse multiple customer and competitor data sets, provide detailed insight, and make data-driven decisions based on a deep understanding of the customer.

Key account management for us is all about understanding our customers and the challenges they face, so that we can build better service solutions that enhance the customer experience as well as addressing new market challenges.

Christopher Kehoe, Group Executive Director, EMCOR UK

EMCOR UK’s KAM development programme with Cranfield also covers the behaviours and competencies needed to deliver world-class KAM. Exchanging information freely, learning from each other, accepting change, responsibility, accountability and trust all complement the company’s diversity, sustainability and collaboration agenda.

Insights Discovery; a psychometric tool based on the psychology of Carl Jung, is also built in. This helps individuals better understand themselves (emotional intelligence and self-awareness), understand others and how they like to communicate and make the most of workplace relationships.

Building a rich and detailed understanding of customers

Account management teams use KAM to understand buyer and customer behaviour and motivations, develop a deeper understanding of wider markets and competition, and develop opportunities to innovate with new products, services and alternative approaches. EMCOR UK utilize their growing customer knowledge portfolio to align operations and build resilience across the entire lifecycle of workplace services, capabilities and the extended supply chain. This actively connects the customer vision with EMCOR UK expertise, creating long-term sustainable benefits for all stakeholders.

As our world becomes ever more complex, we are constantly refreshing and improving the learning and development experience for our KAM teams, dynamically responding to ever-changing global customer demands by building new solutions which support our collaboration, diversity and sustainability agenda.

Christopher Kehoe, Group Executive Director, EMCOR UK

KAM is also used when engaging with new opportunities. The Business Development team utilize it as part of their opportunity evaluation approach with new prospects, thereby demonstrating an in-depth understanding of the customer’s world and their future opportunities and challenges. Specifically showing how EMCOR UK can help achieve goals has proved to be a tender-winning strategy.

Measurement and control

Systematic review of account performance keeps the account management strategy alive. EMCOR UK uses its own KAM Maturity Measurement Tool (MMT) to align critical success factors against five pillars of maturity. As an ISO27001 certified business, the company can safely share customer knowledge and insight across its organization and extended supply chain. This allows teams to connect, rapidly solve customer problems and add value. Taking advantage of Big Data and analytics is increasingly critical to account managers too, enabling them to solve problems and use data to deliver new customer experiences.

EMCOR UK’s Strategic Key Account Management Board sets direction and objectives, ensuring that collaboration systems and KAM are working effectively for all stakeholders, driving value, and facilitating continuous improvement and performance excellence.

EMCOR UK is on the Board of the Institute of Collaborative Working (ICW) and was instrumental in developing the new International Standard for Collaborative Working, ISO 44001:2017. It was the first FM Company to adopt the British Standard (BS11000) and was one of the original six companies worldwide to achieve certification to the new International Standard (ISO 44001) in April 2017.

We used much of our strategic key account planning process and the performance metrics of our key accounts over a five-year period to demonstrate that we had met the requirements of ISO44001. We also demonstrated how we integrate ISO's new high-level structure across all of our other standards, building business excellence and organizational resilience.

Jeremy Campbell, Director of Business Development, EMCOR UK

How KAM has made a difference for EMCOR UK

  • Everyone in the organization is involved in either planning or executing account objectives and accounts.

  • Senior board members are visible in the KAM planning and learning process.

  • Account maturity and risk are measured.

  • Integrated team rooms, standard templates, toolkits, support information and training applications all support KAM planning.

  • Collaborative working is now a demonstrable core value.

Key account management has been instrumental in helping EMCOR UK to identify and win new customers as well as providing the framework to deliver first-class customer service and operational excellence.

Jeremy Campbell, Director or Business Development, EMCOR UK

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