The job of a relationship manager is to work to constantly improve the relationships between a company, its partners, and its customers. The quality of relationships in business cannot be easily quantified or measured, but they are quite valuable in spite of this. The relationship manager is responsible for analyzing business relationships as objectively and quantitatively as possible and applying that knowledge to maintaining good relationships and repairing bad ones. Some relationship managers work on all of a business's relationships while others specialize and focus either on business or customer relationships. Both are extremely important, but relationship managers apply different techniques to each type of relationship, so they are often separate positions.
A customer relationship manager is one who applies specific analytic and practical techniques to examining and improving relationships and reputations with customers. This type of relationship manager must generally keep track of existing customers and attempt to measure the quality of the company's relationships with them. Using knowledge gained from examining relationships with current customers, customer relationship managers may also suggest and implement new strategies aimed at attracting new customers. This type of manager may need to work closely with other departments, such as sales and advertising, to improve existing relationships and to form new ones.
Business relationship managers, on the other hand, focus on nurturing and improving relationships with business partners. Most businesses rely on others for supplying information or raw materials, and maintaining good relationships with those partner businesses is often very important. A business relationship manager may look for ways to incentivize entering into a business relationship or to streamline the operations of existing relationships, for instance. Business relationship management, just like customer relationship management, is often concerned with developing formal methods of tracking and classifying relationships as well. The business relationship manager must use this collected and quantified information to look for relationships that are detrimental and should be dropped, relationships that could be improved, and methods to improve a company's overall business reputation.
It is often important for a relationship manager to take a delicate approach when attempting to develop or improve business or customer relationships. On the one hand, the relationship manager is attempting to gain some specific benefit from any given business relationship. He wants a customer to buy more products or a business partner to offer a lower rate for a product or service, for example. On the other hand, he must offer a business arrangement that is beneficial to both parties. Proposing a lopsided business arrangement could weaken a relationship and have a deleterious effect on a business's reputation.