The understanding customer relationships unit forms part of the Introductory Certificate in Marketing and focuses on developing an understanding of internal and external customers. The unit considers how a knowledge and understanding of customers can assist in designing appropriate marketing activities to engage and support customers to achieve long-term customer loyalty.
Students studying the understanding customer relationships module will also gain insight into the practicalities of developing internal and external relationships, including consideration of networking, collaboration and co-operation in order to reduce the potential of conflict.
The importance of developing effective tactical communications and effective customer service support with regards to harmonious relationships in both B2B and B2C organisations is highlighted and the understanding customer relationships module therefore considers the contributions that these activities can make towards developing relationships for marketing and business success.
The understanding customer relationships unit also explains why organisations need to know and understand their customers and how successful relationships can be developed through effective communications and strong customer service and support.
Students that have completed the Understanding Customer Relationships module should be able to:
Explain the importance of understanding customers, and how marketing information aids the better development of marketing activities to achieve customer satisfaction
Students should also be able to explain the value and importance of internal and external relationships of the organisations and the importance of networking, collaboration and co-operation in order to develop and maintain relationships
Recognise the importance of internal relationships as an aid to the marketing function establishing its cross-functional presence
Explain the different way in which to communicate with both internal and external customers in order to develop, maintain and strengthen customer relationships
Explain the requirements for developing effective and efficient customer service and customer care in order to maintain successful relationships
The Understanding Customer Relationships unit has four sections that make up the unit:
1. The first section is called Understanding Customer Relationships and students will discuss the need for organisations to understand the difference between the customer and user. Students will also discuss how the needs and wants of the organisation's customer base differs and how organisations can benefit from adopting a marketing orientated approach.
2. Student will also recognise the importance of collecting information to gain a better understanding of customer's needs. Sources of information will be looked at and include internal and external, secondary data and primary data sources. Student will also gain a better understanding of some of the limitations of data collected. Students will then look at how information collected from a range of sources can be stored in order to create and maintain a customer database and how this can aid understanding of the organisations customers with regards to:
identifying differing customer needs and wants
understanding why customers purchase the organisations products or services
developing appropriate and effective marketing mix activities to meet customer needs
identify the factors that will influence decision making for customers
Student will then look at building and maintaining effective internal and external customerrelationships in the second section of the understanding customer relationships module. Students will have to be able to explain the different types and characteristics of people with which an organisation develops relationships - these will include customers, users, connected stakeholders and other stakeholders. Students will also learn how to differentiate between internal and external customers.
Students will then examine the links between the marketing concept, a customer focus and the relationship marketing approach. Included in this, students will look at the difference between customer acquisition and customer retention and gain a better understanding of the benefits of retaining customers. Student will also learn about theoretical aspects such as Pareto and the Ladder of Loyalty. Students studying the understanding customer relationships module will be required to explain how marketing activities help with supporting relationships with external customers and how it aids customer retention and loyalty.
This unit will also teach students the importance of developing and sustaining customer, supplier and distributor relationships through the development of networking skills, collaboration and co-operation between intermediaries and the successful negotiation between the various parties in the supply chain. Students will also gain insights into the approaches used to build and develop relationships both within the marketing function and across the organisation in order to gain internal co-operation, commitment to organisational objectives and internal support for marketing initiatives.
Students will also identify key colleagues within the organisation with whom it is important to develop relationships as well as identifying potential areas of conflict that can occur between the functions of an organisation. Students will also look at the methods that can be used to overcome conflict between these organisational functions. Finally students will discuss the need to take into account the views of others within the organisation when undertaking marketing activities.
3. The third section looks at how marketer communicate with internal and external customers and explains the importance of communication as a tool to aid the development and maintenance of relationships, the nature and scope of the communications cycle, the various business formats required for communicating both internally and externally with customers and the importance of good verbal and non-verbal communications. Students will also be able to identify and describe the strengths and weakness of various promotional activities in a range of different marketing scenarios designed to aid relationship management.
Students will also be able to describe the processes involved in undertaking a range of tactical direct marketing campaigns and discuss how customer databases can be used to support tactical marketing communications activities that target internal, external and connected stakeholders. The understanding customer relationships module will also explain to students how to effectively manage a communications budget and also identify the different methods available for monitoring and measuring the success of internal and external tactical communications campaigns.
4. In the final section of the understanding customer relationships unit, students will learn the concept of customer care and customer service and its importance in different sectors. Students will then look at and explain the relationship between customer care, customer focus and relationship marketing. Following on from this students will look at the different stages of a customer care programme and discuss why these programmes are important to delivering a consistent level of support and service.
This section also shows students the importance of obtaining formal and informal customer feedback and will identify a range of methods for collecting information. Students studying the understanding customer relationships unit will then look at the measures that can be used to monitor the success of customer service support activities, how an understanding of information technology and databases is essential to managing customer care and customer service activities.