Relationship Management: Definition, Types, and Importance

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 [B2C]) or between a business and other businesses (business to business [B2B]). Relationship management aims to create a partnership between an organization and its patrons, instead of viewing the relationship as merely transactional. 

Understanding Relationship Management

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)

B2C 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 consist of written media (such as sales announcements, newsletters, and post-sale surveys), video media communication (such as 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)

B2B relationships with vendors, suppliers, distributors, and other associates can also 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.