What is Relationship Marketing? Description
Relationship Marketing is an approach which emphasizes the continuing relationships
that should exist between the organization and its customers. It emphasizes
the importance of customer service and quality and of developing a series
of transactions with consumers. The terminology was first described by Theodore
Levitt in 1983.
Origin of the Relationship Marketing Approach. History
Already in 1980, B. Schneider wrote: What is surprising is that researchers
and businessmen have concentrated far more on how to attract customers to
products and services than on retaining customers. In 1983 Levitt wrote: In
a great and increasing proportion of transactions, the relationship actually
intensifies subsequent to the sale. This becomes a central factor in the buyer's
choice of the seller the next time.
Relationship Marketing is strongly linked to
Business Process Reengineering. According to this reengineering theory,
organizations should be structured according to complete tasks and processes.
Rather than functions.
Usage of Relationship Marketing. Applications
Relationship marketing and traditional transactional marketing are not
mutually exclusive and they are not necessarily in conflict with each other.
Relationship Marketing may be more suitable in the following circumstances
- High value products or services.
- Industrial products.
- Products are not generic commodities.
- Switching costs are high.
- Customers prefer a continuous relation.
- There is customer involvement in the production phase. See:
Steps in the Relationship Marketing Process
- Chart the service delivery system. Set standards for each part of the
system, especially the 'encounter points'.
- Identify critical service issues.
- Set service standards for all aspects of service delivery.
- Develop customer communication systems.
- Train employees on building and maintaining a good relationship with
- Monitor service standards, reward staff for exceeding service levels,
correct sub-standard service levels.
- Ensure that each employee fully understands the importance of quality
and relationships in the marketing philosophy.
Strengths of Relationship Marketing. Benefits
- Focus on providing value to customers.
- Emphasis on customer retention.
- The method is an integrated approach to marketing, service and quality.
Therefore it provides a better basis for achieving
- Studies in several industries show that the costs to keep an existing
customer are just a fraction of the costs to acquire a new customer. So
often it makes economic sense to pay more attention to existing customers.
- Long-term customers may initiate free word of mouth promotions and referrals.
- Long-term customers are less likely to switch to competitors. This makes
it more difficult for competitors to enter the market.
- Happier customers may lead to happier employees.
Limitations of the Relationship Marketing model. Disadvantages
Relationship Marketing is less appropriate in the following circumstances:
- Relatively low value products or services.
- Consumer products.
- Generic commodities.
- Switching costs are low.
- Clients prefer a single transaction to relationships.
- No / low customer involvement in production.
Book: Theodore Levitt - The Marketing Imagination -
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