What Is Relationship Management?

Relationship management is a strategy in which an organization maintains an ongoing level of engagement with its audience. This management can occur between a business and its customers (business to consumer [B to C]) or between a business and other businesses (business to business [B to B]). Relationship management aims to create a partnership between an organization and its patrons, instead of viewing the relationship as merely transactional. 

The Relationship-Building Process

Relationship management involves strategies to build client support for a business and its offerings, and increase brand loyalty. Most often relationship building occurs at the customer level, but it is valuable between businesses as well. A business may hire a relationship manager to oversee relationship building or it may combine this function with another marketing or human-resources role. Building a relationship with clients yields rewards for all parties: Consumers who feel that a company is responsive to their needs likely will continue to use that company's products and services. A company's reputation for responsiveness and generous post-sales involvement can often stimulate new sales. Maintaining communication with consumers lets a company identify potential problems before they come to a costly head.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

B to C businesses rely on customer relationship management (CRM) tools to build a solid rapport with their customers. CRM involves a significant amount of data and sales analysis, as it seeks to understand market trends, the economic landscape, and consumer tastes. CRM also can include marketing techniques and a post-sales support program. Typically, a CRM program will comprise written media, such as sales announcements, newsletters, and post-sale surveys; and video media communication like commercials, and tutorials. Ongoing marketing is critical to a business, as it is more costly to acquire a new customer than it is to maintain a current customer. Marketing helps a business to gauge consumers' interests and needs, and develop campaigns to maintain loyalty.

Business Relationship Management (BRM)

B-to-B relationships with vendors, suppliers, distributors, and other associates also can benefit from relationship management. Business relationship management (BRM) promotes a positive and productive relationship between a company and its business partners. BRM seeks to build trust, solidify rules and expectations, and establish boundaries; it also can help with dispute resolutions, contract negotiations, and cross-sale opportunities.