That’s a very interesting question, is it not?
Relationship marketing is no longer a new buzz term and obviously itâ€™s here to stay, but I wonder just how many people really understand what it means.
My interpretation is that itâ€™s all about looking at your customers and your relationship with them in a new light. Rather than develop a product or service and market it to the customers, relationship marketers think about what the customers want and adapt their product development strategy accordingly.
Itâ€™s about customization to meet the needs of the individual.
Relationship marketing is based on getting feedback and using it to develop and improve your service.
I continuallyÂ evangalise about the need for companies to make it as easy as possible for customers to complain, but in relationship marketing, feedback is sought before a complaint occurs.
This helps to:
â€¢ Identify potential problem areas before the customer does.
For many companies it has become the practice to encourage customers to provide such information via the website, after all you need good quality information if you are to have a two-way relationship with your customer don’t you?
Have customers changed? â€“ In a word Yes!
â€¢ They are more demanding
â€¢ Have higher expectations
â€¢ Have a more pressurized lifestyle
â€¢ Want everything but donâ€™t necessarily want to pay for it
â€¢ Are less tolerant
â€¢ Want more for their money, time and effort
â€¢ Are much more aware of their rights â€“ influenced by consumer rights programmes
â€¢ Are driven by customer service issues in their own workplace
â€¢ Are more likely to seek recommendations from friends and colleagues than rely on advertising
â€¢ Are driven by new technology â€“ particularly the internet
BUT â€“ the key to supplier differentiation lies within these increased expectations, since customers now value closer links with efficient, competent suppliers who are willing to act as “long term allies”
Some key lessons on keeping abreast of customer needs and minimizing complaints:
â€¢ Use as much of the available technology as possible â€“ make it work for the customer, not just for you
â€¢ Focus on customers as individuals – every customer, everywhere is different
â€¢ Listen and act on what they say
â€¢ Increase the value of each customer â€“ especially in the long term
â€¢ Welcome complaints â€“ always, always, welcome complaints.