Introduction: Why is Relationship Management Important ?
If you are working and have a bank account, chances are that you would have heard of the term Relationship Manager who is tasked with the responsibility of attending to your banking needs as well as proactive account management.
Further, if you are working for a corporate and are either a marketing personnel or you are an important client for a corporate, chances are that you are either a relationship manager or deal with a relationship manager belonging to your vendors.
Thus, relationship management is indeed an aspect of management which has grown in importance in recent years mainly due to the intensely competitive marketplace where the Customer is the King and hence, any corporate wishing to “stay in the game” simply cannot do without relationship management.
Who is a Relationship Manager ?
Before proceeding further, it would be worthwhile to understand what Relationship Management is in the first place. Consider the Relationship Manager as a One Stop Contact Person or a Single Point of Contact for the Clients who do business with the corporates.
Before the advent of relationship management, it was often the case that clients used to “talk to” various departments in the vendor’s organization wherein their issues related to sales, marketing, service, production, design, pricing, and any general query had to be resolved by multiple people and departments instead of being “routed” through a single person.
In this scenario, one can imagine the hassles of dealing with multiple people in the vendor’s organization and the wastage of time and the inefficiency inherent in this approach.
On the other hand, imagine if you were an important customer for the corporate and you are assigned a Single Point of Contact or a Relationship Manager for all your commercial needs.
In this scenario, if the deliveries are delayed or your payment has been stuck or if the product fails the quality standards, all you have to do is simply call the Relationship Manager and talk to him or her wherein you assign the issue to them and then wait for them to call you back.
Indeed, just think of the “Synergies” in this process as you need not call marketing, finance, quality assurance, or sales separately and all you have to do is talk to the Relationship Manager. Moreover, this is not only efficient but cheaper as well as more “real time oriented” meaning that there are no lags and delays arising from coordination and miscommunication aspects.
Indeed, Relationship Management takes the art and science of sales, marketing, and customer service to an “entirely new level” by channelizing and routing the queries and concerns through a single point of contact who is the relationship manager.
What Does the Relationship Manager Do ?
Of course, this does not mean that all the queries and concerns would get addressed by the RM immediately since the RM’s job is to be the “face and the voice” that the Customers know in the vendor’s organization and once the concerns are raised, the RM would get down to work and contact the respective departments for resolution.
In cases where multiple departments are involved, the RM would also ensure that there is better coordination and communication leading to efficiencies which in turn can lead to a situation where customer satisfaction goes beyond Customer Delight and instead, can easily lead to “Customer Wow” which is the pinnacle of customer service that all corporates must aspire to.
What we are talking here is the essence of Relationship Management which based on the points raised so far indicates that Relationship Management is the “Management of End to End Customer Needs wherein the entire Customer Value Chain can be handled through a Single Point of Contact”.
Relationship Management is also Proactive leading to Synergies and Efficiencies
Having said that, Relationship Management is also proactive meaning that almost all RM’s do not stop at handling queries and concerns but also seek new business, ask for continuous feedback, meet with their clients periodically, and some who are astute become the “alter egos” for their clients meaning that they anticipate what the customer wants and give it to them even before the customer asks.
This is the result of the “synergistic” combination of Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and Contact Points for the Customers that is as much New Age Business as it is about old fashioned way of the so-called “personal touch” based customer service.
Indeed, it can be said that the “wheel has come full circle” as the earlier decades management emphasized personal selling and marketing only to be superseded by automation and what we now have is the combination of technology and the “human touch” wherein customers and vendors use Big Data, Analytics, and Marketing and Sales techniques to “manage their relationships”.
Conclusion: Aspiring to be a Relationship Manager?
Finally, for all those of you who are aspiring for a career in Management and are already in the field or are graduating from business schools, it would be worthwhile to remember that ultimately, most career paths in organizations in the managerial vertical often lead to the designation and role of Relationship Management since this role requires both knowledge as well as experience in addition to exemplary people skills.
Thus, we suggest that you take this introduction as the starting point and explore the topic in detail as well as make time to talk to practicing relationship managers so that you know the expectations, pressures, as well as the pleasures of being a Relationship Manager in the Real World.