Relationship Marketing as Part of Customer Management

· · Customer management is about developing relationships (including personal) so that the customers like dealing with you and your organisation. Furthermore, they perceive that they receive real value from dealing with you.

· · Relationship marketing can be done in several ways:

- by identifying the key people in your customers' organisations, ie the influencers, and targeting them with your communications, relationship building, etc. Who are the influencers or decision-makers in purchasing, ie who has the authority to sign cheques and/or purchase orders? At what level(s) in the organisations are the decision-makers to be found? Are they the senior executives, purchasing professionals, finance executives, technical and research staff, production managers, marketing staff, etc.? Sometimes it can be one person or a number of people. This needs to be explored and identified

- by bringing customers and their needs into the process of design and development of product and services

- by cultivating new niche markets

- by building a network of suppliers, outlets, partners and end-users which reinforces your company's reputation and technological leadership

· · These strategies emphasize creativity and interaction, especially with customers, ie making the customer part of your organisation

· · At the same time, one needs to be wary about

- getting immersed in creating and producing products (this can cause organisations to become introspective and forget about the customers)

- getting lost in the competition of selling, and the cut and thrust of the marketplace, ie chasing market share (this can create a culture in which a customer is seen as a statistic only)

· · The aim of relationship marketing is to have undisputed leadership in the market you have targeted, ie you market and create products and services that are suitable to that market

Remember: everyone in the organisation is involved in customer service ? not just sales and marketing personnel who are directly involved with the customer. The receptionist, the administration and accounting staff, etc have important parts to play. Remember also that positive people-handling skills are pivotal and more significant than processes and programs


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