Building and maintaining strong customer relationships is essential to growing any business. Companies sow those new client seeds by knowing the needs of customers, optimizing interactions and keeping them satisfied, which can include employing a client services manager.
Students in the online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) learn how to establish and manage customer relationships effectively. The curriculum includes a Customer Relationship Management course, which helps students hone those skills to practice them in the real world to create strong business outcomes.
Two primary functions make up strong customer relations: reactive and proactive. The former happens any time a patron has an issue while dealing with the business, such as a complaint. The latter focuses on the big picture, forging those lasting relationships and creating brand loyalty.
Regardless of business size, as part of customer relationship management, businesses should track and optimize client interactions at every level — including marketing, customer service, sales and follow-up contact — to solidify long-term relationships. Building strong bonds with customers can also lead to word-of-mouth referrals, increasing current business and future purchases.
First Steps to Gaining Loyalty
There are several ways that businesses can begin building mutually-beneficial relationships with new customers.
The biggest key to starting any relationship is establishing trust, which begins with understanding the customers’ needs and finding ways to meet them quickly and effectively on a regular basis. For larger businesses with plenty of resources, meeting those client needs can include using customer relationship management software to create strategic plans. However, any business should prioritize customer satisfaction.
Taking advantage of opportunities to meet with customers face-to-face is a good way to lay the groundwork for a long-term partnership with loyal customers. Competitors are also less likely to sway return customers away from a business because they have an established rapport through quality service.
Whether a business is large or small, customer relations management involves every employee to create a customer-centric environment. Exceeding expectations with quality service is a great way to build brand loyalty.
Customer feedback is also a valuable tool for creating satisfaction and trust. Companies should ask clients for feedback to track, analyze and react to their products and services to continue improving the customer experience.
Strengthening the Customer Ties
Once a relationship is established, it’s important to anticipate the needs of customers by communicating with them regularly and providing easy access to customer support and service teams. Any time a customer has a need or an issue, the business should be available to address them as soon as possible.
Customer feedback is another good way to maintain successful relationships. By monitoring feedback via email, messages, social media posts and online reviews, managers can learn about problems and resolve them promptly, which goes a long way toward strengthening customer relationships.
Social media is also a cost-effective channel for businesses to keep clients informed about new products, industry news and trends. By directly marketing to customers through various online platforms and social media spaces — including emails, newsletters, blogs, corporate letters and phone calls — customer relationship managers can boost sales without breaking the bank.
Monitoring what the competition does well is another way for customer relationship managers to adjust the policies and operations of their businesses to improve customer service.
Business Skills Are Consumer Skills
Becoming an effective client relationship manager requires skills and knowledge in communication, customer service, collaboration, negotiation, presentation, problem-solving, time management and products and services. Understanding the elements of having a good relationship with customers will always be essential to running a successful business, and SIUE’s online MBA program gives graduates the tools to prioritize the company-consumer relationship.
Learn more about SIUE’s online MBA program.