Customer relationship process (CRP)

There are many components involved in attracting and retaining customers. You have to look at your marketing, people, products, services, training, etc. Often we look for ways to adjust all of them in the hope that something better will happen for our company. So many books and articles have been written about these areas that I think sometimes we forget the basics. That’s where the Customer Relationship Process (CRP) comes into play. The process consists of 5 steps, with the last step coming back in step one. Think of it as a continuous loop.

1. Build trust

2. Understand need

3. Recommend solutions

4. Delivering a product or service

5. Customer satisfaction (then back to number 1)

This process is repeatable. It has to be like this. As something to run without errors, it should be easy to understand. It’s an unbroken loop. The reason it’s an unbroken loop is that when the CRP is done right, the result is a long-lasting relationship. Customers are satisfied and develop loyalty to your organization and brand. Let’s quickly break down the steps one by one.

Build trust – To do this, you need to show the client and prospect that you are trustworthy, likeable and have the expertise that sets you apart from others in this crowded market. Listen to the customer and avoiding the desire to pontificate about your organization’s ability allows you to naturally flow to the next step of the process.

Understanding need – What does the customer really want? Ask questions that focus on need. Every client is unique, but developing a basic client interview process will certainly help. In addition to the direct interview, capture data from your listening posts in the market. This information from past, current and future customers helps to develop a stronger foundation of understanding.

Recommend solutions – Have you ever said to a client “this is what I think we should do?” If you haven’t, what’s stopping you? There are people who know exactly what they want and can articulate it well. Others may struggle. When you are successful in the first two steps, recommending a solution is a natural progression. It doesn’t sell. It is the successful result of properly performing the two previous steps.

To deliver – You’ve successfully completed the first three steps of the process and now it’s time to show off your stuff. If your company has sufficiently flexible processes and a balance between tight and loose controls, this step should also be feasible. The valid customer requirements are established, you understand them and your team will outperform everyone else.

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Customer satisfaction – I like to think of this as the step that keeps this loop moving and alive. You hit it out of the park on the other stairs. Customer satisfaction will increase and it will help develop and maintain a long-term relationship. The customer process never ends. Of course, there are some customers you serve that could be a one-time opportunity. For the few who aren’t ready to walk you down the aisle again, you still have data to learn from.

The CRP loop will keep you in the game for a long time. The loop more often than not strengthens the long-term relationship upon which successful business partnerships are built. Give it a try.