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CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MARKETING

Traditionally, concept of marketing was just confined to selling of product or service, that is, selling whatever the firm needed to. Little heed was paid to influence buying decision of customers. Somewhere or the other, the reason was lack or little competition in the market. With the evolving time, competition increased and many firms rose in the market providing homogeneous and heterogeneous products. It became hard to attain greater profits and stand out in the market. To differentiate itself from others, a firm needed to adopt such strategy by which customer loyalty would increase leading to greater sales and greater profits. The market, till now, was product-focused and now was the era of customer-focused market.

Now, the firm focused on achieving more customers. The various strategic building blocks for implementing it was coming out to understand needs and desires of customers, rather just by imposing products to them as was previously done. 

The firms started from the grass-root level and inquired about the desires a customer had from and towards a specific product or service. Though service was already attached to the product, it was given negligible prominence in the comparison of product. But it was gradually felt that the service factor could turn out to be a boon for influencing customer. At the same time, it was known that providing product is easier but providing service was a Herculean task. When it comes to attaining higher level profit, this task has to be accomplished. Thus, the service along with product plus customer along with the firm give rise to the concept of relationship, coined as Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

CRM grew so fast that today, when you provide more than excellent services along with the excellent product and develop a cordial relation with the customer, it becomes "possible", yes only "possible", not "guarantee" to have a good customer loyalty. Since relationship is involved in marketing, there is nothing called a measurable unit to measure the good relationship or bad relationship. It is a part of your behaviour and customer's behaviour and the point, where both of you can tune with each other.

Observing this change in marketing, firms have made a separate branch of management under which CRM evolves. Managers are trained to go with the flow and this flow is none other than "more good" desire of the customers. The task in hand is to influence the customer and convince him/her to the point he/she agrees to have that product or service. But, remember that convincing should not take shape of forcing or imposing, and at the same time, the product plus service delights the customer rather than disappointing. Customer wants value for his/her money. If that value is provided to him/her, then it will add up to the firm's customer loyalty.

In a customer's market, if a firm want its product or service to become a brand which has immense popularity and customer loyalty, it has to follow all 7P's of marketing (Product, Price, Place, Promotion,  People, Process, Physical evidence) very effectively. The firm's understanding of customer's understanding should hit at the right place and be reflected in its product or service. There should be customized bonding between a firm and customers, that is, a strong bond at both levels, emotional as well as financial level. Till the emotional level is not there, it's difficult to reach a stable financial level. Each of the words and actions from the firm should speak of having emotional connect, should act as cues for customers towards its product or service.

If the firms want to withstand themselves in this customer-focused market, they should craft innovative and rather, yet innovative strategies to strengthen their relationship with customers in order to gain a good amount of customer loyalty, greater market share and above all, stand out in the market.     

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