Background

Customer Relationship
Management

Let’s face it, things don’t always go as planned - especially in IT.

One of the major aspects of managing any project is maintaining a healthy relationship with your customer. Let’s face it, things don’t always go as planned - especially in IT. Sometimes you are at fault, sometimes you aren’t. But how the customer may react can change based on the relationship you have built with them.

Senior Systems Engineer

Testimonial Author

Sanjay Fernando

From a project manager’s point of view, he/she will most likely have to interact with fellow project managers assigned by the customer. If you work in support, you may have to deal with users of the system, system administrators, the network team among others.

Thus the relationship with these stakeholders has a direct impact on how the company you are representing is perceived.

How do I maintain a healthy relationship?

One thing that is easily overlooked is that while you may be serving a large multinational, or an organization larger than your own, you still interact with a limited set of people. These people have a life outside of their job. We often work 9-10 hours a day, generally with the same set of people whilst working on a project, but we can tend to forget that they have a private life, a life outside of their work.

This can contribute to some of their behavioral characteristics. For example, you may get mad that the only user you are able to test the new system with (Let’s call her Suzy), is in a rush to get out of work at 5pm sharp. As a result, you’re having a hard time delivering the system on time. What you don’t know is that Suzy is a single mom and has a sick child at home. Naturally, you will be annoyed because it may not be just one day, but every day. On the flipside, if you knew the real reason, then you both would be more connected and can even work out a way around it. So, it is clear why having a good relationship with your stakeholders is important. But how do we achieve this? Not everyone is willing to share their personal life. Maybe you aren’t comfortable sharing details of your own life?

You must not forget that we are all human and may share some common interests. We may be into the same sports, into flashy cars, support the same football team, hobbies. Or maybe we went to the same university, have kids of similar age. Therefore, finding something in common may not be that difficult after all. Starting a conversation on a common interest generally helps bond with people. Socialising, maybe over some drinks, most definitely helps you see a side to your customer(s) you didn’t see before.

That being said, there are some topics that are best avoided as that can have an adverse effect if you happen to disagree on some of them. For example, topics like religion and politics are best avoided. Also, it’s possible that they will misunderstand your approach if you aren’t the same gender. Nevertheless you should be sincere in your friendship. If you’re doing it just for financial gain, or just to reach your goals you are being unethical and fake. It’s about helping both sides achieve each other’s goals.

It also helps if we swap roles (theoretically) and see things from their point of view. Sometimes it helps to understand the problem we intend to solve, rather than go with their own solution. This is because the users may be trying to automate the manual processes instead of solving the actual problem. This can result in a less efficient system. Understanding your stakeholder helps achieve this.

What are the other benefits?

Having a good relationship will help in securing more sales - this is because the customer will naturally favour people they find easiest to work with, people who they have worked with before and have had good relationship with. Your name will be what comes to mind first when they have a new requirement.

Furthermore, it will help in getting a better understanding of the requirements / needs of the customer. Since we have a good relationship with the customer, we know how the customer works, what their requirements generally focus on - this helps both sides. For example, we know that stakeholder X focuses entirely on the security aspects of the systems. When replying to their request for a quote, we can address those aspects in more detail.

This also helps us identify which customers are most profitable and which we should work less with.

The Chamber of Commerce Canada of Metropolitan Montreal and Acclr experts have stated that CRM can lead to sales increases among others. A major benefit can be the development of better relations with your existing customers, which can lead to:

  • Increased sales through better timing due to anticipating needs based on historic trends
  • Identifying needs more effectively by understanding specific customer requirements
  • Cross-selling of other products by highlighting and suggesting alternatives or
        enhancements
  • Identifying which of your customers are profitable and which are not
What is CRM software?

CRM software is mainly used in large organizations or organizations that deal with many customers to help collect and manage information related to them.

How can CRM software help you?

Several CRM software products are readily available. The Chamber of Commerce Canada website suggests the following steps in implementing a CRM: This also helps us identify which customers are most profitable and which we should work less with.

The Chamber of Commerce Canada of Metropolitan Montreal and Acclr experts have stated that CRM can lead to sales increases among others. A major benefit can be the development of better relations with your existing customers, which can lead to:

  • Collect information
  • Store information
  • Access information
  • Analyze customer behavior
  • Market more effectively
  • Enhance the customer experience
In conclusion

CRM is most definitely an integral part of any business. Even if you decide to automate it using a system, it is your staff that will interact with the customer (unless of course you deal with an online system where the buyer and seller don’t meet). Either way, the importance of managing your customer relations is quite clear for maintaining current business and getting new business.

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