Relationship management started to gain significant attention back in the 1990s, but customer relationship management (CRM) continues to develop and evolve. Now, the concept has become quite far-reaching and all-encompassing.
Traditionally, relationship management was discussed in a business to customer (B2C) or business to business (B2B) context. Nowadays, it is also applicable to internal business relationships. In fact, relationship management is inclusive of every business interaction you have, from the people you hire to the data you gather and analyze; how you communicate with the market; the experience you provide to customers; or the lifetime loyalty of your customer — who then returns their value as measured by referrals. That’s broad!
Life is all about relationships. Humans in general are social beings, despite personality differences. Connecting with people to the degree they desire and in a way they prefer to engage is the secret to success. This applies to every employee, supervisor, coworker, vendor, customer or potential customer.
Those who follow the ‘golden rule’ and treat people the way they themselves want to be treated are now told that isn’t good enough. Instead, they are told that they need to treat others the way each person wants to be treated.
You might be wondering, “How am I supposed to know how other people want to be treated?” That is exactly the dilemma faced by proponents of relationship management. As much as they’d like to engage with others in whatever way the receiver deems preferable, they’d almost have to be a mind-reader to know exactly what this is.
This is where “relationships” enter the picture. Relationships bring the mind and the heart together to form a stronger bond. Through our relationships, we get more done and are happier doing whatever it is we do.
While CRM seeks to achieve strengthened relationships through process integration, tailored product development, customized experiences, and enduring support, true loyalty may actually be based on real relationship-building. The fact is, strong relationship bonds are anything but perfect. Instead, they stand the test of time and are able to withstand failure and disappointment. Research has found this to be true for business and personal relationships.
This is not to say that process improvement and mass customization is a useless endeavor. After all, businesses are making billions in return for knowing their customer’s needs and target marketing. However, organizations must remember what all that customization is actually for. It is not just about having the most powerful data mining system, though that may produce a return on investment. The data in and of itself will not assure relationship-building.
Put simply, it’s about people. It’s about connections, forming positive relationships, and helping people develop meaningful experiences together.
Questions to consider:
- Do you help or hinder your team in developing relationships?
- How are your relationships with those you are in contact with internal to the organization, as well as externally?
- How would others describe the quality of your relationship?
- What can you do to improve your relationships?
Hopefully, when answering these questions, you did not point the finger at others to change but instead looked within at how you can improve. Some relationships are more challenging than others. Frankly, some relationships are just not worth having. Even CRM theorists sometimes recommend firing a customer. Such action is not to be taken lightly but may lend to contemplation of whether or not it is a productive affiliation or if it is time to move on for the sake of both parties. Whatever you determine, it should be carefully considered and thoughtfully executed. Here’s wishing you serenity and peace as you consider your relationship management effort.
Lori Okami is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She has over nine years of experience in local and state government in Human Resources, grants management, and as an educator, as well as over twenty years in the private sector. Lori has written over 400 health and fitness blogs for Hawaii’s premiere online news publication. Lori’s expertise is in organization alignment, change management, and customer relationship management (CRM). You can read her posts here.