Building Relationships with Customers

Building Relationships with Customers
by Andrew Szabo

The nineties heralded the shift from product-centricity (selling what a company has) to customer-centricity (fulfilling customer wants and needs). This has allowed firms to not only serve large market segments but also small niches and thus increase their target market universe.

What does this take? A new value-exchange proposition, the development and management of customer relationships and loyalty, and marketing to the individual  potentially on a mass scale. To succeed in this new environment of constant change and instability requires new information, a new level of customer knowledge. Knowledge that is generated expressly for the decision at hand, not information created for another purpose entirely and then massaged on a “best can do” basis.

At The Marketing Chef we are strong proponents of relationship management and the role of strategic marketing communications to effectively support our clients’ marketing goals. In the last six years much has been written on the subject. From Peppers & Rodgers seminal work: “The One to One Future”, first published in 1993 to Bain & Co’s Frederick Reichheld business classic: “The Loyalty Effect”, and from the relationship marketing guru of Silicon Valley, Regis McKenna’s “Relationship Marketing” to great HBR articles by Professor Len Schlesinger: “Realize your customers’ full profit potential”, and W. Earl Sasser’s “Why satisfied customers defect”.

I know it’s hard to keep up in this day and age, so here is a good primer that I came across that summarizes several of the aforementioned authors’ work. It is located on a German Website at the University of Mannheim:

http://webrum.uni-mannheim.de/bwl/grether/Alba.html#_Toc362507130

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