What Is a Customer Relationship Manager? And Other FAQ

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 20 July 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Creating positive and long-lasting customer relationships is an important business strategy that can help companies grow and succeed. A customer relationship manager is a professional who specialises in developing, implementing and refining business strategies to improve customer service and satisfaction. Learning more about this career and field could help you decide whether it's something you want to pursue. In this article, we explain what is a customer relationship manager and answer some common questions about this role.

Related: What Is Customer Service?

What is a customer relationship manager?

A customer relationship manager, also called a customer relations manager, is a business professional who helps companies build a loyal group of satisfied customers. These managers work to boost engagement, foster long-term relationships with repeat customers and create strategic plans for a business's customer management.

What is customer relationship management?

Customer management is a collection of strategies, tools and techniques businesses can use to grow and keep customers. These processes can vary depending on the company's size, industry and goals. Typically, customer relations management contains a version of the following factors:

  • Customer information: customer relations professionals use tools and software to gather and store customer information, including contact data, location, sales trends and communication preferences. This can help them improve their customer communications, including emails, online chats and social media messages and posts.

  • Customer service: customer relations management may also include customer service tools and systems, such as a chat robot, automated service recording or customer representative scripts. It may also include customer databases that track customer satisfaction rates after asking a question.

  • Marketing tools or strategies: a large part of customer relations management is using customer data to create effective marketing plans that target a specific audience. For example, a customer relations manager can analyse which emails perform better and generate more sales with customers in different locations, and they can use this information to create more effective emails in the future.

What does a customer relationship manager do?

In a small company, a manager or business owner might complete customer management tasks and planning. Many large or growing companies have a separate role for a designated customer relationship manager. This person specialises in building and retaining effective customer relationships. Their duties can vary depending on their sector and employer, but common responsibilities include:

  • Designing strategies and plans to improve customer satisfaction and retention rates

  • Using customer relationship management (CRM) software platforms and tools

  • Choosing a new CRM system or platform for a company and selecting the features they need

  • Conducting business reviews and assessments involving current customers and trends

  • Creating customer service protocols and techniques that match the company's brand

  • Using social media to increase customer engagement

  • Communicating new products, services, discounts and changes to customers

  • Collaborating with other managers and leaders in a company to create strategic business and marketing plans

  • Dividing customer data into segments or groups to improve marketing strategies

  • Designing and implementing strategies to grow the current customer base

  • Using selling and cross-selling techniques in customer interactions to help boost sales

  • Analysing the typical customer base, their needs and wishes

  • Creating marketing plans to help address customers' changing needs

  • Researching and analysing competitors in the same market

What is a CRM?

A CRM, customer service management system, is a tool professionals can use to help manage their customer relations and communications. Customer relationship managers can use this technology to automate many of their tasks. This can make it easier for them to store, track and organise large data sets. They can then analyse the data to create strategies to improve customer growth and satisfaction.

CRM functions

Managers can select and customise their CRM platform to fulfil their business goals and needs. Typically, managers may use CRM to complete the following functions:

  • Track customer interactions: some platforms automatically track all emails, calls and clicks between a customer and the company. Managers can use this to discuss marketing and customer service plans and results.

  • Manage documents: CRM can help managers share and store documents involving customer retention, service or satisfaction with one another.

  • Segment customer data: an important part of a customer relationship manager's role is segmenting customers into groups based on factors like their location and age. They can use this information to create more effective marketing strategies. A CRM system helps gather and organise this data.

Related: Analytical Thinking: Definition, Examples and Tips

What are the requirements for becoming a customer relationship manager?

The requirements for a customer relationship manager role can vary depending on the employer and industry. For example, a role in a large technology company may require more experience than a mid-sized retail store. If you're interested in a customer relationship manager job, consider completing the following qualifications:

Education

Typically, a customer service manager has a bachelor's degree in business or a related area. Common options may include:

  • Administration

  • Business

  • Finance

  • Marketing

In these programmes, aspiring customer relationship managers can learn more about market trends, brand strategies and sales. This can help them understand their target audience more, which may help them design more effective strategies for improving customer relations.

Experience

The customer relations manager role is a leadership or management position, which means it typically requires several years of relevant experience. Many professionals earn experience in customer service, marketing or sales before moving into a customer relationship role. These roles can help you develop your soft skills and industry knowledge. Also, a role as a team lead or manager can help you build leadership and management skills you may use in this career path.

Related: 12 Customer Service Skills: Definitions and Examples

Skills

Customer relationship managers need a variety of technical and interpersonal skills to complete their tasks. Some skills you may need in this role include:

  • Communication: effective communication skills can help customer relations managers discuss data with teams, share new information with customers and present findings with other managers in the company.

  • Customer service: customer service skills, such as empathy and active listening, are essential to the customer relationship role. These professionals should understand customers' needs, wishes and concerns so they can create effective strategies to improve interactions.

  • Analytical reasoning: CRM technology can help automate the data collection process for customer interactions, but a customer relations professional is responsible for analysing and interpreting the data to create strategies. Strong analytical reasoning can help you assess the information to design more effective plans.

  • Collaboration: these professionals often collaborate with other business leaders to create long-term customer goals and plans. Strong teamwork and collaboration skills can help you create productive solutions with managers in different departments.

  • CRM knowledge: customer relationship managers often use CRM tools, technology and platforms to help them facilitate their tasks. Many employers will train you for a specific software platform, but having a basic understanding of common tools can help you succeed.

  • Management skills: customer relations managers may oversee a team of professionals, either in customer service or marketing, to help the company improve its customer interactions. Strong management skills can help you inspire your team, delegate tasks and lead effectively.

Related: Management Skills: Definitions and Examples

What is an example of customer relationship management?

Here's a hypothetical example of customer relationship management, to help you better understand this field and what a customer relationship manager job might involve:

Better Built Appliances, a company that produces and manufactures residential appliances, decides to hire a customer relations manager to help them improve their current customer interactions. They hire Roy as an internal customer relationships manager. He chooses a CRM platform that works with the company's objectives and budget. He determines the following customer relationship goals:

  • *Increase satisfaction: by creating a more efficient customer service procedure, Roy hopes to help improve customer satisfaction rates.*

  • *Grow customer base: Roy plans to grow the customer base by introducing more targeted marketing strategies, using customer data.*

  • *Improve customer relations: with higher customer satisfaction and more targeted marketing strategies, the company can help retain customers who make repeat purchases for their next appliance.*

Using the CRM platform, Roy collects customer data and contact information. He then uses this to create segmented groups of customers based on their age and location. He shares this data and collaborates with the marketing team to create more effective strategies that reach these target groups.

Roy also meets with the technology team to discuss adding an online chat feature. This can help make customer communication easier, which may increase customer satisfaction and retention rates. He plans to review the data in a few months to assess the current plan and make revisions as necessary.