Author: Suhasini Sharma | Head CRM | Maier+Vidorno
First published in March 2016

Everyday interactions, be it with your family, friends or even neighbors are the biggest examples of managing relationships. Whether it is a hello to a passerby; a text to a colleague or a smile that you pass to complete strangers, or for that matter an email to a long lost friend, whether we realize it or not, we are carving and forging relationships; and these interactions make a big difference to the way links are formed or maintained.

In business, establishing and maintaining successful relationships are not just important, they are critical – even more than in your personal life. The risks & benefits associated with successful relationships are much higher because the outcome and future of an entire engagement can depend on the strength of your relationship with a client.

This is more so in the Indian Context, where social relationships are absolutely paramount – in business and at home. Interpersonal relationships form the basis of successful partnerships in this high context culture where sharing values and beliefs has more relevance than sharing the same business goals. Relationship Management in India gives you an extra edge when doing business in and with India.

Simple techniques can help you immensely during a client’s lifecycle as well as providing you with other benefits along the way. For example :

    • Provide your customers with frequent updates on business or engagement status (including any hurdles that stand in your way)
    • Solve small hurdles or problems before they become big roadblocks.
    • Ensure that you understand your customers’ side of the situation and can identify with it.
    • Establish personal relationships with customers and exceed expectations where possible.
    • Keep your communication regular and consistent.

Investing in a customer’s growth is the best strategy any business can apply, and to be a part of a customer’s growth strategy you have to know your customer and not just their business. Good customer relationship management is crucial for any business, and is considered imperative especially in businesses that hinge on customer growth.
Here are 3 ways your CRM is helping your business by building relationships with your customers:

1. You can rely on your relationships, when challenges emerge

It is inevitable that you will encounter challenges throughout an assignment or engagement with a customer. Your task is to find a way to address and handle them in the best and most direct way possible. Such problems have to be approached head on to avoid redundancy and additional work. There are so many times that you have to deliver difficult news or feedback to your customer and it is in such cases that a strong relationship and rapport with your customer becomes your biggest tool to work through the problem. A direct and open discussion fosters efficiency by saving both energy and time.
Building trust early on in the business relationship clears the path for an effective and efficient feedback & problem-solving system.

2. Managing and fulfilling expectations becomes simpler

The best way to avoid conflict and constant disappointments is to manage expectations from the word Go. Creating guidelines and standards at the beginning of an engagement opens doors for an open flow of communication and expectation. Consistent communication and regular updates will also make sure that expectations are the same on both ends always. With such an agile communication channel, any change in scope or expectations can be adjusted at the right time and resources can be managed better to the benefit of both parties.

3. Building relationships will benefit you for long after

In our experience, if you have provided for a good flow of communication and management of expectations, a customer, even after closing the engagement with you will promote your business by word-of-mouth.
If your customer requires another service in future, they will not hesitate in coming back to you with requirements because that rapport that was built right at the beginning has formed a basis for all future engagements down the line.

By concentrating on building relationships with your customers, you are setting yourself up for future success. Just like in your personal life, you end up having lifelong friends – your business could have a lifelong friend in your customer – if you just invest in forging better relationships with your customers & their business.

If you are interested in more details on how to optimize your business with Indians please read our article on “Overcoming intercultural differences in India”.