There are many components that go into attracting and retaining customers. You have to look at your marketing, people, products, services, training, etc. Often, we look for ways to tweak each one of them in the hope that something better will happen for our company. There have been so many books and articles written on these areas, that I think we sometimes forget about the basics. That’s where the Customer Relationship Process (CRP) comes into play. The process is comprised of 5 steps, with the last step feeding back into step one all over again. Think of it as a continuous loop.
1. Build Trust
2. Understand Need
3. Recommend Solutions
4. Deliver Product or Service
5. Customer Satisfaction (then back to number 1)
This process is repeatable. It has to be. As something that requires execution without flaw, it needs to be easily understood. It is an uninterrupted loop. The reason that it is an uninterrupted loop is that when the CRP is done well, the result is a long-term relationship. Customers are satisfied and develop loyalty to your organization and brand. Let’s quickly break down the steps one at a time.
Build Trust – To do this, you have to demonstrate to the customer and prospect that you are dependable, likable and have the expertise that separates you from others in this crowded market. Listening to the customer and avoiding the desire to pontificate about your organization’s ability allows you to flow naturally into the next step of the process.
Understand Need – What is it that the customer really wants? Ask questions that focus on need. Each customer is unique, but developing a basic interview process for customers will certainly help. Along with the direct interview, capture data from your listening posts in the market. This information from past, present and future customers helps to develop a stronger foundation of understanding.
Recommend Solutions – Have you ever told a customer “here’s what I think we should do?” If you haven’t, what’s holding you back? There are some people who know exactly what they want and can articulate it well. Others can struggle. When you are successful in the first two steps, recommending a solution is a natural progression. It’s not selling. It’s the successful outcome of executing well in the two previous steps.
Deliver – You’ve navigated well through the first three steps of the process, and now it’s time to show your stuff. If your company has enough flexible processes and balance between tight and loose controls, this step should be achievable, too. The customer’s valid requirements have been established, you understand them, and your team is going to deliver better than everyone else.
Customer Satisfaction – I like to look at this as the step that keeps this loop moving and alive. You knocked it out of the park on the other steps. Customer satisfaction is going to increase, and it will help to develop and foster a long-term relationship. The customer process never ends. Sure, there are some customers who you serve that might be one time opportunities. For the very few who aren’t ready to walk down the aisle with you again, you still have data from which you can learn.
The CRP loop keeps you in the game for a long time. The loop, more often than not, cements the long- term relationship on which successful business partnerships are built. Give it a try.