3 Steps Towards Rethinking Customer Relationships Strategies

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3 Steps Towards Rethinking Customer Relationships Strategies

The emergence of modern, sophisticated tools and technological solutions empower businesses to build a more meaningful and thought through interaction with their customers. CRM platforms open the spectrum of new possibilities to personalize and efficiently manage the company-client interplay. Merely gathering and analyzing demographic data to segment the buyers into profitability categories is not enough anymore. Moreover, such an approach, often interpreted as disrespect, leaves customers feeling dehumanized. What people desire is to have a relationship with a brand. Unfortunately, many companies fail to fulfill this expectation and utilize the potential of CRM systems.

Increasing the relational intelligence and offering clients the type of interaction they crave can go a long way to improving customer satisfaction, scaling revenue, building brand reputation and boosting the overall success of the business.

Without a doubt, unlocking the mysteries of relationship management and successfully implementing the findings in practice is a complex process that can’t be described in a single article. However, we have composed a 3-step instruction to get you started, so keep on reading.

Step #1 - Understanding the Importance of Relating

Receiving a desired kind of treatment and being served in a particular way is one of the essential expectations of a modern customer. Excellent customer service and high customer satisfaction are unachievable without understanding and fulfilling those expectations.

To illustrate the point let us look at one example. An online service provider receives a request from a loyal customer, who is using a premium version of the product. The client wants to extend the subscription but asks for a minor custom adjustment to the service. The interaction with managers turns out to be completely unhelpful and is heavily scripted. The client, who has spent a lot of money on the service in the past, feels disrespected and decides not to renew the subscription.

In this example, because of the lack of flexibility and failure to build a successful relationship model for such type of customer, the company has lost a loyal client. 

It is crucial to grasp that a properly built relationship with a client is a long-term asset that can bring some benefits. Some of them include:

  • Increased employee focus on fulfilling customers’ expectations;
  • Higher customer satisfaction due to the ability to anticipate client needs and expected service level;
  • A chance to create active advocates of the brand;
  • Ability to resolve customer complaints and fix problems more efficiently.

Now, that you know why it is important to work on your customer relationships strategy, it is necessary to figure out what types of client-business relationships there are and which ones are the most valuable for your company.

Step #2 - Determining Relationship Types

Different customers have and want different types of relations with the company. They can be both positive and negative and vary greatly by connection strength, intensity, and power distribution. As a part of their research on customer relations Jill Avery, Susan Fournier, and John Wittenbraker have identified 29 specific types of possible relationships. Let’s look at a few most common ones:

Basic Exchange - the client, seeks to acquire a suitable product at a reasonable price. He would appreciate a constant, yet simple interaction.

Business Partners - the customer is ready to contribute to the development of the brand (for example, offer improvement suggestions, beta test products, take part in surveys, etc.), but in turn wants to be valued and his suggestions to be implemented.

Fling - a client looks for a fun and exciting interaction, he wants to be constantly surprised and usually does not rationalize the purchases. This type of relationship is usually very useful and profitable, but fickle. 

Best Friends - the customer emphasizes honesty and security, he is very likely to be loyal and understanding if you maintain his trust and provide constant high-quality support.  

Buddies - this type of buyer is unlikely to give preference to a single brand or company and use it exclusively, but will return periodically. He is usually quite low maintenance and doesn't want to enter a close relationship.

Master-Slave - the customer, who expects this relationship model desires to be treated like a star. He expects the company to anticipate his needs and satisfy all demands. The smallest sign of disrespect can make him leave forever.

To determine what type of relationship the client belongs to and accordingly classify the existing customers, you'll have to collect the data that uncovers their sentiments and assumptions about the brand and analyze the gathered information. This is where your CRM solution is going to be very useful. Start by gathering the information that contains relational signals from emails, online chat sessions between clients and reps, and phone calls.

The information you've assembled and coded will give you a chance to see your current relationship profile. You can put this information to use by figuring out which connections offer the most value for your type of business.

Step #3 - Changing the Strategy

Once you have determined the present state of your client relationships, you can proceed to optimize them. You can either reinforce the existing relationship with your customers, try to alter their expectations or adjust your own performance approaches.

Neither of this options is easy to achieve, for each one usually requires additional employee training, marketing, sales and support reorganization, financing, and sometimes even the change of the whole company philosophy. Despite this, tailoring various aspects of the organization to meet relationship goals is a worthwhile undertaking. It will allow companies to understand the customers’ condition and build a high-quality relations profitable and enjoyable for both clients and businesses.

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