Dollars and sense: Relationship management builds success

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 2, 2008

By SCOTT GASSNER / Guest Columnist

The greatest chance a business has to distinguish itself from others in a competitive marketplace is by implementing strategies that build an awareness of customer needs. Commanding an insightful responsiveness to customer needs offers a powerful business advantage and promotes consistency in delivering customized, high quality service.

Relationship management is a strategic business approach to initiating, expanding and cultivating long-term customer relationships within a target market. It is an approach that seizes opportunities to enhance service or product offerings to each customers in a profitable manner.

Relationship management is grounded in a philosophy that gives preference to the growth and retention of current customer relationships, over customer acquisition. The philosophy stems from a belief that consumers would prefer developing relationships with a provider that continually meets their needs with all related services and products.

There are several key elements of an effective relationship management system, but the dominate theme is to know your customers, which means much more than identifying them.

Relationship development strategies are not centered on demographics because it is more important to understand the decision making process and buying patterns of customers.

Businesses that properly identify the needs of their customers, and develop precise means of keeping them informed about additional service or product offerings, will realize opportunities to develop lasting relationships.

Business owners should keep in mind that competitors do not dictate consumer needs and values. Consumers do that by purchasing those products or services that most closely match their expectations.

Relationship management begins by offering customers the services and products that meet their values, expectations and desires instead of focusing on what the average individual within a particular demographic will most likely purchase.

Relationship Management identifies opportunities for businesses and consumers to get the most out of the relationship. Businesses get profitable, loyal customers and customers enjoy businesses that are sensitive and responsive to their values.

Long-term relationships conserve valuable resources and are beneficial for both businesses and consumers.

Scott Gassner is the executive director of Design Group LLC. He can be reached by e-mail at