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.

In many ways successful marketing is about developing the right relationship between the salesperson and customer, ie if the customer likes and trusts the salesperson, they are more likely to accept their deal than from somebody else's with whom they don't have the same good relationship. This can be the case even if the deal is not as attractive. This can appear to be irrational, ie not going for the best deal.

Some customers assume the more expensive means higher quality

NB It is the customer's reality that counts.
"...true value, like quality, is up to the customer, not the marketer. This is critical because customers, organisational buyers, don't purchase a product or service. They purchase satisfaction of a want or need. This means they purchase value and that may be perceived from a variety of sources..."
William Cohen, 2021

For example, clothing has different definitions of value depending on age and gender
- for a teenage girl, definition of value could be determined by current fashion and reaction of her peers; comfort or quality are not as important
- a middle-aged lady might be interested in durability and comfort
- a middle-aged man might be most interested in price
"...That's why it is so important to do the research to find out who is using the product or service, who might influence the purchase decision, and who is putting out the money......It's about what the customer, and whoever might influence the customer (directly or indirectly), consider to be of value......Value, however, part of the customer's reality..."
William Cohen, 2021

· · 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

The key to marketing is relationships, ie you prefer to buy from, or sell to, somebody you like, know and trust. This means you

- know each other

- like each other

- trust each other



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