Though Relationship Marketing as a concept evolved only in the 1990s, relationships have always governed all businesses through the ages. Managements have given importance to relationships with customers, suppliers as well as business partners and invested into cultivating fruitful relationships.
Organizations employ methods to manage relationships within as well as with all other stake holders related to its business notwithstanding the external bodies like Government authorities, media as well as the society at large. While corporate communications and HR are trained to build effective relationship with the Shareholders and employees respectively, managements are known to engage well known and influential persons of high repute and social standing on their board of management as honorary directors in order to be able to build relationships with the community and local authorities as well as in the political circles.
When it comes to the Marketing function, one needs to take into account the various points of contact within the Organization who come in contact with the customer and define process as well as methodology to manage customer relationship at all these levels. Each individual point of contact will need to be sensitized and trained in this aspect. It is not only the sales persons who get to meet and interact with the customers. The point of contact who are accessible to customers are across various department including Product and technical support, installation and service delivery group, after sales support as well as finance group in charge of collecting payment from the customer. In the modern times it is quite possible that these services are outsourced and managed by a third party service provider on behalf of the Organisation to the Customer. This is not all, once the product or service has been used by the customer, he will continue to seek support on various grounds for which he will need to interact with the customer service.
You cannot imagine a situation where the customer service centre and the sales treat the customer very nicely but the customer ends up having a negative feeling about his interaction with the finance executive. If the finance related transaction has not be a positive experience, it is likely that the customer will not come back and do business with the Organization in the future and move to another competitor. On the other hand a customer who is happy with the way the finance transaction was handled or the technical support extended to him, he is likely to become a loyal customer and engage in a fruitful relationship with the Organization.
Therefore there is a need to percolate the Managementâ€™s vision, values and strategies of Relationship Management down to the last point of contact with the customer. A successful deployment of RM will demand training and retraining as well as sensitizing the entire Organization at all levels and building a management style as well as culture that is tuned to value Customer Relationship. Organisations who are selling in B to B environment employ high trained Relationship Managers who focus extensively on the valued business customer. In case of a business having multinational presence and spread across geographies, Key Account Managers are stationed at Customer locations as well. Organisations engage Key Account and Relationship managers at various levels from that of Vice Presidents to the executive to build and manage relationship at all levels with the Customer business.
Those who realise that marketing and selling is all about engaging with the Customer get their perspectives right and are able to perform effectively as Marketing strategists and Managers. They know that their business is to grow the relationships and sales will automatically follow.