Customer management

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In business administration, customer management describes an instrument for an organization to improve its customer orientation . The goals are the customer-oriented alignment of the company, the stabilization of endangered customer relationships and the increase of customer loyalty . The term is associated with both strategic and operational approaches. The increase in customer loyalty is based on the knowledge that, analogous to the Pareto principle, it is easier, cheaper and more lucrative to keep existing customers than to acquire new ones . Here is customer value , the so-called customer lifetime value (CLV) to be considered.

Customer-oriented strategy

The whole company, including its processes and all of its success factors (employees, etc.) as well as the culture is geared towards the needs of the customers. This requires a comprehensive approach that has to be systematically interwoven with the strategic direction of an organization. This is done through customer-centered planning, a multi-stage process that is carried out from "outside", i.e. H. from the customer, "inside", d. H. to the company and its internal processes. It is also important to include key figure systems that depict the degree of target achievement and, if necessary, point out starting points for further developing the defined actions.

  • Who are our customers and what are their requirements? This not only shows the company's current customers, but also involves identifying additional market segments and anticipating general developments in the sales markets. Customers will always “migrate” for a wide variety of reasons: Shifts in the customers' sales markets, the appearance of products from competitors to our range, technological changes on the customer side (change to a different production technology, etc.).
  • Which of our products or services meet the requirements of the targeted market segments in which we have a sustainable competitive advantage? Customers will always choose a product or service if they expect a greater benefit from it than from competitive offers. The expected benefits can be of an economic, ecological, functional or psychological nature.
  • Which strategies and programs, resources, competencies and processes are necessary to efficiently develop, produce and market the identified products or services and, if necessary, to provide after-sales service? This step involves both the development of marketing programs ( marketing mix ) and the internal organization of the company, which must adapt to market requirements. This also includes personnel development programs: For example, the internationalization of sales activities requires more employees to speak foreign languages.

If the benefit expectations of the customers are not met, the company will not be able to be successful in the long term. If, on the other hand, the expectations of the customers are exceeded, this can lead to excessive marketing costs (see the section on customer portfolio in the article customer value). The actions developed in the planning process have certain effects on the sales market. This step is about developing cause-and-effect models, testing them empirically and mapping them in the form of a customer-centered key figure system . For example, there could be a relationship between customer retention rate, the number of complaints and the quality of the products. The determined key figures serve for the continuous further development of the company in terms of a learning organization.


Complaint management

Complaint or complaint management is an essential part of a consistent focus on customer needs. There are also professional standards that are carried out under complaint management.

However, many companies are not well prepared to respond to complaints , suggestions or advice. It is made difficult for customers to get a satisfactory response . It is important to solve the problem raised by the customer to the satisfaction. The feeling of being taken seriously when you have a complaint is a first step towards a satisfied customer . The company can learn from suggestions not to make the same mistake again and optimize its processes .

Customer relationship management

Customer care or CRM ( en. Customer Relationship Management ) describes the management of customer relationships, since the company's activities are geared towards long-term customer relationships in order to increase the success of the company. Various manufacturers offer CRM software packages for this purpose.

Customer contact management

Customer contact points arise wherever the customer comes into contact with a company or its products and services. The customer contact management, often also called customer touchpoint management, comprises the coordination of all measures in such a way that the customer is offered an experience that is at least satisfactory at each touchpoint , without losing sight of process efficiency. The aim is to continuously optimize the customer experience at the individual contact points in order to consolidate existing customer relationships and, in the best case, to generate recommendations.

Managing the various contacts across the multitude of functional units often proves to be the operational crux of holistic customer management. In doing so, companies must succeed in using integrated contact management across the various customer contact points and channels to ensure a uniform, consistent appearance ( corporate identity ). All company representatives have to communicate the same company messages, regardless of their function: whether in the switchboard or at reception, whether as a sales consultant, marketing manager or employee in the service center. The same applies to all communication media and channels.

Key account management

First and foremost, key account management means looking after major customers through special managers. Characteristics of this support are a customer-oriented attitude , differentiated forms of processing, special forms of organization and working methods / techniques.


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