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Client relationship management (CRM): graduate area of work

Client relationship management (or customer relationship management) is more commonly known as CRM. Graduates in this area are responsible for finding out how their company’s clients operate, and how to best answer their needs.

What it involves

Successful companies don’t simply provide a service or a product and hope someone pays for it. Instead they have systems in place to find out what their clients want, and how to provide it. For new products and services they will conduct market research, but in established relationships they will use CRM.

The main responsibility of CRM is to maintain client relationships. If a relationship isn’t working, it is a CRM worker’s job to fix it. This can involve attending client meetings, or even playing host. The ‘wine and dine’ culture isn’t a major part though; it’s more about using systems, software, apps and programmes to establish how their clients function.

In order to do this CRM workers need to maintain and update databases about clients. They are responsible for analysing the success of a strategy and feeding back to help direct future marketing policy. They may even be expected to secure new business. If client satisfaction is high then business referrals might be anticipated.

What’s required

To do this job you will need great people skills in order to build lasting long-term relationships. It goes without saying that you will need excellent communication skills, and many companies also look for presentation skills. You will need to be confident talking to clients and potential contacts. You will also need to have good negotiation skills.

You will certainly need an empathetic approach in order to deliver client satisfaction to your clients. To understand the world your clients work in you will need commercial awareness. Finally you will need to have good time management and initiative, as CRM workers are frequently responsible for managing themselves.

Where to find out more

Jobs with an exclusive CRM focus are often aimed at people who are further on in their careers. At graduate level you might have more luck joining marketing agencies and consultancies and then taking on elements of CRM in your work.

To become a professional in this area you will need a fair bit of technical know-how. You can experiment with free CRM software from intouchcrm.co.uk, opencrm.co.uk and zoho.com. You can also find out more about this sector on sites like marketingweek.co.uk and thedrum.com.

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