Customer Relationship Management - Balancing It the Right Way
Date: Thursday , February 11, 2016
Xposure is a Media Consulting company that assists its clients to get the best ad spaces at the best rates. It helps the brands to make the best use of those ad spaces by understanding and identifying their needs and implementing media planning & buying strategies.
\"A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not depending on us. We are depending on him. He is not an interruption to our work, but the purpose for it. He is not an outsider, but a part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us the opportunity to do so\". - M.K. Gandhi.
Customer Relationship Management was originally devised as a way to optimize sales by gathering intelligence on customers and targeting them with tailored campaigns. Given today\'s competitive scenario, what we have as a differentiator is not the physical aspect of the brand but the ability of the brand to offer something more eclectic; something that stays with the consumer. This is the ability of the brand to interact with the consumer and provide a better consumer experience. Customer relationship dynamics have dramatically shifted as customers have learned that they can utilize social media to engage brands directly.
Traditional marketing theory and practice have always focused on attracting new customers and making the sale, but today the emphasis is shifting. Companies now are leaving no stones unturned to retain their current customers and build lasting customer relationships. Given the plethora of spends during the festive season, even today as we see the e-Commerce industry space, Flipkart for instance has a higher brand presence and better download rate of their apps only because the consumer experience has been great. Amazon, despite being an international brand, experience on Amazon.in is very different than the experience on Amazon.com. In a similar way, Snapdeal continues to be positioned as a deal site and it may offer the cheapest rates, but it does not offer the same consumer experience that Flipkart does.
What is this experience that we are talking about?
It is everything, starting from the time the consumer logs on to a site or goes to an online store; he/she expects to be treated well. Ease of use, ease of operations ease of understanding the products is what he/she is looking for.
Shifting the focus from acquiring new customers to customer retention is the need of the hour. I think more than anything, it is the post purchase experience that is becoming more important than the pre-purchase in the relationship marketing industry. I say this because it is this experience that determines if the customer is going to refer the brand or trash the brand. Is he going to come back or is he going to be rushing into the arms of competition. Today, companies are more focused on the pre-purchase cycle and not on the post purchase cycle. In fact, the post purchase syndrome and the after sales syndrome will define the customers\' relationship with the brand going forward in the future. Attracting new customers remains an important marketing management task. However, today\'s companies must also focus on retaining current customers and building profitable, long-term relationships with them.
So, how does one address the issue of customer relationships going forward?
Remember, the customer chooses you not the other way around. They do so based on outward appearances without knowing too much about you. It is on the brand now to build on this by understanding why the consumer really came to them in the first place - if it was trust then the brand needs to understand the psyche and spend time building the trust. Every brand needs to learn to respect the consumer and his business. A brand should never let resentment simmer and has to know how to manage differences and solve problems as they arise. If the problem needs a surgery, do not use a band aid to fix it.
Listen to you consumer. More often than not, brands are eager to put their side of the story. Ideally, the brand or its managers need to listen to the consumer. Listening takes away 90 percent of the angst. And never hesitate to apologize because anyone can make a mistake. Finally, work hard at maintaining the closeness with the consumer. A strong customer relationship is profitable for both the company and the patron. With satisfied and happy patrons, come recommendations, free marketing [word of mouth], and increased business.
So what are you waiting for? If there is a customer you know needs a little push in the right direction, call them up. Talk to them, understand what is going through their mind, and help them out in any way possible. You need to show them that you value them as a customer and want to build a lasting customer relation.