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How do I Manage a Customer Relationship?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Feb 26, 2024
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Managing a relationship with customers is extremely important today or they may turn to your competition. Maintaining a good customer relationship doesn't, and shouldn't, mean that you almost have to give your products away to keep business. Rather, an effective customer relationship means respecting him or her. Customers who feel respected by being recognized by name and having any complaints handled fairly are likely to remain loyal.

Customer loyalty cards, such as memberships with discount prices, are a good start in building good relationships with consumers. These types of offers can show customers that the business does care about their concerns for reasonable pricing. Treating customers as members makes them feel welcome and like they belong to a business and are not just entering a store to purchase something. Friendly service with a genuine smile only adds to the great shopping experience.

Clerks with indifferent or negative attitudes can damage the customer relationship. Customer relationships must be built from pricing and offers through to the order processing and follow through. Follow through means that customer relationships don't end when consumers leave the store. Discount mailings may be sent or phone calls placed to ask if the service was satisfactory; these are ways of showing consumers that a business values their repeat business.

Any customer complaints should be handled promptly with a genuine, caring attitude. Sometimes, a simple "I apologize" can be all a customer needs to hear to remedy a situation. Most people are understanding when it comes to mistakes, but when employees try to deny the customer's bad experience occurred or defend the store without bothering to listen to the consumer, the problems usually only become worse. Being mindful of the customer relationship means working with him or her to retain the consumer loyalty.

Studies have shown that it costs companies much more to gain new customers than to retain old ones. Maintaining the customer relationship through courteous service and apologies when necessary can go a long way in keeping satisfied clients. The most successful businesses tend to see their company through the customers' eyes rather than their own. They understand that it's the customer's perception of the company rather than their own that counts in terms of business traffic.

Without a firm customer base, companies can't continue to thrive. Most businesses need to build a loyal client base as well as keep attracting new customers to stay in business. By creating a genuine relationship with customers rather than treating people as mere statistical numbers, a company can thrive on its strong values and commitment to consumers.

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Discussion Comments

By cafe41 — On Apr 01, 2011

@Sunshine31 - I really like the online chat feature especially if the item is somewhat technical. I just wanted to say that I also think that customer relationship management requires training the sales staff on how to improve customer relations as well as monitoring them to make sure that this is happening.

Companies will often hire market research companies to supply them with mystery shoppers so that they can monitor the company’s customer service. The mystery shops can reveal strengths and as well as weaknesses within a company. Strengthening the customer relationship is really the top priority for companies.

Sometimes in call centers, calls will be recorded at random in order to provide valuable feedback to the employee in effort to maintain a positive relationship with the customer.

This allows the company to praise the employees that are developing positive customer relationships while coaching those that need more help.

I often hear associates ask me for my contact number in case we get disconnected. This is really the way that the salesperson can follow up with me and call me back to try to develop a relationship. It is really a subtle customer relationship strategy that allows for future interaction.

By sunshine31 — On Mar 29, 2011

@Comfyshoes - I know that a lot of stores now have additional online resources for customers in order to enhance their shopping experience. Many companies now have online chat in case a customer needs an immediate question answered regarding a product that they are looking to purchase.

Many companies also offer the customer to opt in to a mailing list that will offer them promotional information much like how the rewards programs work.

This online customer relationship management program can create a link between the company and its customers. Allowing for online customer feedback is also valuable because it helps the company learn what it is doing right and what they need to improve upon.

Customers that leave positive feedback can also expand the customer base for the company because testimonials are really powerful. I always look at posted reviews when I am thinking of buying something.

By comfyshoes — On Mar 27, 2011

@Oasis11- I agree that all of those strategies sound good. I think that the best customer relationship strategy is to follow up with the customer after they have made a purchase.

Too many sales clerks think that when they ring up a sale then that is the end of the relationship with the customer when it is not. It actually can be the beginning of a customer relationship.

Years ago, a friend of mine worked in a department store that required its sales people to keep client books. This was so that the sales people could follow up with customers after they purchased something and inform them of upcoming events or new merchandise.

Sending a thank you card takes no time but has enormous impact on the customers because most stores unfortunately don’t take the time to do this anymore. They use customer relationship software that automatically sends out mailers to customers but it does not take the place of a handwritten note from a salesperson.

By oasis11 — On Mar 27, 2011

I think that customer relationship marketing is really important. I think a lot of companies track their customer’s purchases through the use of rewards programs in order to better serve those customers.

Sometimes companies will send out a birthday card or even a gift to its customers in order to form a great customer relationship strategy that will make the customer return to the store.

They will also send targeted mailings that would interest the customer based on their current shopping patterns. These could be a free product coupon for a new product that the store is about to start carrying or even an invitation to a fashion show for an exclusive designer.

A lot of department stores differentiate between various customer groups based on volume of sales. Many of the exclusive customers that shop the most get offers that the general public does not see which is a form of customer relationship marketing.

These department stores cater to these customers because their sales represent a large portion of the store’s revenue.

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