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For any business, getting customers is only half the battle; retaining them is just as important. That’s where customer relationship managers come in. These managers build and maintain long-term relationships with customers to ensure their continued allegiance to a company and its products or services. Customer relationship managers, sometimes referred to as client relationship managers, need strong empathetic and interpersonal skills and an awareness of each customer’s wants and needs. They must stand ready to implement programs and practices focusing on these demands. They often work in fast-paced environments, deal with people of diverse backgrounds and temperaments, think on their feet, and maintain full knowledge of the products or services their company offers.
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Customer Relationship Manager Duties and Responsibilities
Though customer relationship managers are found in a wide variety of industries, they all share many of the same common responsibilities. We examined several job postings for this position and found the following duties were most often indicated by employers:
Manage Customer-Business Communications
In one of their most important roles, customer relationship managers are the face of their company to clients and customers. They develop and distribute emails, letters, and other correspondence regarding problem resolutions, product and service features and upgrades, company changes, welcome packets, and other materials for new and existing customers.
Solve Customer Issues
Customer relationship managers must address any customer issues and problems quickly to reflect the regard in which each customer is held. Prompt and successful responses to customer and client issues is a major point in retaining customers and can lead to positive reviews and word-of-mouth references that can lead to more business.
Monitor Customer Care Strategies
It is up to customer relationship managers to review customer care practices on a continual basis to make sure that all customers are getting the attention they deserve. This might include devising separate strategies and plans for specific customers and reviewing the effectiveness of existing strategies to explore the need for changes as necessary.
Collaborate to Ensure Customer Satisfaction
Customer relationship managers share input on product development, sales, marketing, and distribution based on conversations with existing customers. Using feedback, surveys, and other tools, customer relationship managers develop an understanding of what customers are looking for and present suggestions to other departments to improve products or services, expand distribution, or create more effective marketing campaigns.
Customer Relationship Manager Skills and Qualifications
Quick-thinking problem solvers make for effective customer relationship managers. The following skills and abilities are most often called for by employers seeking to hire this type of manager:
- Computer skills - use of such programs as Microsoft Word and Outlook is important for customer relationship managers, as they often correspond with clients and customers via email or written documentation
- Product/service knowledge - from common issues to upgrades, a customer relationship manager must consistently keep up with changes and other details about the products and services offered by their company
- Communication skills - perhaps the most crucial skills for customer relationship managers are speaking, writing, and listening so they can hear customers' suggestions and complaints and respond accordingly
- Customer service - customer relationship managers must continually be cognizant of the needs of their customers and apply methods for ensuring total customer satisfaction and problem resolution
- Team collaboration - sometimes it takes a village to build a long-lasting relationship with customers, so these managers must work with executives, salespeople, and other customer service personnel to maintain a healthy relationship with customers
- Time management - responding to customers in a timely manner and resolving issues quickly goes a long way toward building lasting relationships, so it's imperative that customer relationship managers have strong time management skills
- Presentation skills - the ability to discuss and describe products and services clearly and concisely is beneficial in this position
- Negotiation skills - customer relationship managers often employ this skill to explain the benefits of their products and services and, if necessary, make concessions to retain clients
Customer Relationship Manager Education and Training
In many cases, a four-year degree in a relevant area, such as business administration and management, is required to find work as a customer relationship manager. These programs often features classes in customer service, communication skills, and operations management. Most companies will conduct on-the-job training in this kind of position, while also providing ongoing training in the features of company products and services.
Customer Relationship Manager Salary and Outlook
According to data provided by Payscale.com, customer relationship managers earn a median annual salary of $50,586. At the low end of this pay scale, these professionals earn just under $35,000, while top earners can expect to realize a median annual wage of $82,295. These salary figures might include bonuses, commissions, or profit sharing.
Seattle is the top city in the U.S. for customer relationship managers’ salaries, with these professionals earning 35 percent more than the national average of $48,425. San Diego customer relationship managers can make 29 percent more than this average, while those in Denver see a 25 percent increase over this salary. Payscale.com also reports that customer relationship managers working in Los Angeles and New York can make 2 to 5 percent more than the national average, respectively.
The overall expected job growth rate for customer service employees is 5 percent through 2026, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This figure will be impacted by whether companies continue to use in-house customer service centers as well as an increased use of automated voice-response systems.
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Refer to the resources provided below to review books, organizations, and more regarding life as a customer relationship manager:
The Association for the Advancement of Relationship Marketing/Relationship Management (AARM) – Networking and professional development for customer relationship managers and related professions are at the core of this organization. Discover seminars and conferences where you can learn about updated practices and meet with fellow managers for inspiration and career growth.
Founded in 1973, this global organization is a great resource to expand the thoughts and professional practices of customer relationship managers. SOCAP educates and trains through podcasts, workshops, webinars, networking, and more.
What is customer relationship management (CRM)? What are its benefits? How do you implement CRM programs? Review practices, strategies, and case studies to get a full understanding of these topics.
From how to manage customer data to overviews of digital CRM tools, this blog provides an upclose look at the best practices and duties of customer relationship management.
This website, presented by the editors of CRM Magazine, offers relevant articles about industry news, reviews of new CRM software, and links to current and back issues of the magazine.
From the roles of CRM to CRM terminology, author Jill Dyché's handbook provides nearly everything you need to know about this field and the leaders and companies that implement successful CRM strategies.
CRM at the Speed of Light, Fourth Edition: Social CRM 2.0 Strategies, Tools, and Techniques for Engaging Your Customers
Industry guru Paul Greenberg's guide describes the latest technologies, techniques, and implementation processes used to ensure successful CRM in any business.