How to Maintain Relationships? Ask, and don’t Assume!

When presenting about CRM for Education I love to challenge my audience with the question: “How do you think you should maintain a relationship with your customers?”. After a while there is always someone in the audience shouting: “By sending them birthday greetings”. Or somebody says: “By visiting them all at least twice a year!’. Or somebody might say: “By delivering good and professional service!”. And of course there is nothing wrong with these answers. They all are examples of actions and policies to consider when defining the CRM strategy of an educational institution. However, the answers given also have something else in common. They all represent in inside-out focus. Because wouldn’t the most customer focused answer to question how to maintain relationships with the customers be: by asking the customers how they want the relationship to be maintained.


Institutions assume that prospective students are looking to travel the least complex and harmful journey when applying for a study. But is that really true? Maybe prospective students will be motivated better if they have to pass high admission standards to be allowed to study at your university. Maybe you should ask the prospective students how they want to be served.

Institutions assume that all alumni would want to maintain in touch with them. But is this really the case? Have you asked yourself what you have to offer them?

And institutions often assume that companies they partner with are not willing to spend much time on the relationship, and therefore many times fail to inform them properly on their strategies and plans. This way many opportunities for more strategic collaboration are being missed.

And when you start asking different groups of relations how they want you to maintain relationships with them (or how they want to be served, if you like), you will find that not all customers and constituents would want to be served in the same way. Different service plans for different customer personas will be needed. In later episodes of this blog I will talk more about designing service plans for different customer segments. For today I hope the take-away is: ASK AND DON’T ASSUME.


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This entry was posted on June 19, 2015 by in Uncategorized.
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