We all know that building meaningful relationships with customers is based on providing value over time and establishing trust.
By adding more value to our relationships we are able to look at ways of exploring more business opportunities together. But to do this we need a robust and repeatable process that can be measured, adapted and reviewed.
In my last two articles, I discussed whether “DO YOU HAVE A CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP PLAN?” and “DO YOU KNOW WHO YOUR CUSTOMER IS?” In both these articles I stressed the necessity of having a Customer Relationship Plan as well as understanding what roles our different contacts in the organisation have with the customer.
Any solid plan is based on knowing our current situation, or where we are, and then deciding where we want to be and therefore the direction we will take. We need a roadmap.
Many times I have found myself getting too far ahead of such a process. I began by thinking of where I wanted to be, before I had established where I was.
So guess what? I started speeding down the freeway when I should have been looking at the map to see where I was. As a result, I was making decisions based on intuition and assumptions, which resulted in many bad calls, and me ending up in the middle of nowhere. And being a male, I never asked for directions. There had to be a better way.
I needed a plan that identified where I was so I could then map where I wanted to be. I needed that roadmap, but what sort of roadmap? So I started using the 6 steps we see in the image above. I started with “understanding” where we are and “identifying” my customer roles. I used a relationship mapping process to help me do that.
Then I analyzed the map to help me understand the issues that existed. I needed to know where I was. So I listed all the things that were good and bad about the current relationships with our customer. For example, where we were strong and weak, what our coverage was like, and with whom?
After that I could sit back, look at my list and think about what needed be changed. Then I set my Goals and for each one I decided on Key Initiatives that needed to be carried out to accomplish the Goals. What I had noticed was that Goals were fairly easy to write. It was the “How” they were going to be accomplished that was the real nitty gritty. To make the plan work these Key Initiatives had to be detailed and time-bound.
And then to make sure the plan was on track and to ensure we modify it as needed, I set up a fixed, scheduled review, every quarter.
I used these 6 steps to establish my Customer Relationship Plan. They keep me focussed on what I needed to do to add value to my customers and to whom I should be speaking, which in turn provides opportunities in getting more business from our existing customers.
Relationship building with customers has to be strategic and therefore we need a plan. A Customer Relationship Plan is essential to ensure we are planning the very relationships that our Business Plan depends upon.
Would this approach work for you? Have you got a Customer Relationship Plan?