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Ways of Building Strong Relationships With Clients and Meeting Their Various Needs (EQF: 3-5)

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Learning Outcomes

Objectives and goalsClick to read  

At the end of this module you will be able to:

  • Link with customers in developing service/product offerings
  • Meeting customers where they interact with our services/products
  • Build relationships in a digital world
Link with customers in developing service / product offerings

Buyer-seller collaborationClick to read  

Developing closer relationships with customers in terms of trust and communication is becoming a key longer-term success.  This is becoming even more critical as customers become LESS likely to enter a physical business location.

When relationships are built, customers:

• Feel more secure
• Enjoy being a part of something more than just being a customer
• Are more likely to remain with a supplier 

The movement is away from transactional relationships to collaborative ones.  This is even more important is situations related to:

• Developing responsive supply chains
• Environmental sustainability
• ISO certification (and the like)

Two 2019 research studies by McKinsey & Company found that 1) 61% of buyers and seller in the fashion industry expected to co-invest or co-create by 2025 and 2) buyer-seller relations in supply chains are seen to create value in the future 

Meet customers where they interact with our services / products

Customer onboardingClick to read  

Customer onboarding involves any activity that is adapted to introducing a new customer to a product or service.  This can take place either virtually or in a F2F format

Examples of some best practices in customer onboarding in a digital world:

• Use video and/or self-support content to list product / service features aid customer understanding.
• Full scale, extended customer service and support to make the customer transition seamless
• Product tours and demos. 
• Develop a ‘gamification’ to the customer onboarding process.

Customer re-boarding (current customers)Click to read  

Current customers should not be taken for granted and need to be met with (virtually or in-person) as required.  Much ‘cheaper’ to keep a customer than attract new ones.  Gives the opportunity to:

• Know your customer (KYC) better
• Undertake customer relationship management (CRM)
• Reinforce your brand and what you can do for the customer
• Enhance word of mouth (WOM)
• Increase trust and reliability of you as a supplier
• ‘Prove’ you understand them and can anticipate their needs

Build relationships in a digital world

Types of digital relationshipsClick to read  

The pandemic has forced organizations to build digital relationships with existing and new customers.  It can be challenging to build relationships in a totally digital context with new customers.  The common means for doing this include:

• Social media – the current ‘go to’ area of digital relationship building
• Email
• Newsletters / blogs

Social media relationship buildingClick to read  

Social media relationship building has become ubiquitous in business today.  Some of the most effective ways to leverage this include:

• Creating a social media customer service channel
• Applying social media ‘listening’ (e.g., scour channels for brand mentions)
• Personalising customer experiences with your social channels (live chat widget)
• Creating a brand ‘voice’ (i.e., memes, tweets, Instagram posts that relate to your brand)
• Rewarding social medial channel interactions
• Sharing and encouraging user generated content
• Providing value, not just promotion and marketing – opportunity for education
• Building an online community


Summing upClick to read  
Key takeawaysClick to read  

Buyer-seller relationship is most effective when it is collaborative
Embrace digital relationship management as an effective means of maintaining customers
Develop distinct relationship strategies for new customers (onboarding) and existing customers (reboarding)
Embrace social media platforms to build relationships and not just as a promotion tool

Test Yourself!


There is nothing more important in business that the relationship a company builds with its customers; companies cannot simply be an ‘island’ but must rather focus on the interconnectedness of their business with their clients. In this session the focus will be on customer relationship building which goes beyond the aspect of traditional business networking. The focus will be on co-development of product and/or services and deepening business relationships in a digital world while maintaining trust.


Relationship building; networking; co-development


Thukral, E., & Ratten, V. (2021). Building and maintaining customer relationship via digital marketing and new technologies for small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. In COVID-19 and Entrepreneurship (pp. 100-108). Routledge.

Oncioiu, I., Căpușneanu, S., Topor, D. I., Tamaș, A. S., Solomon, A. G., & Dănescu, T. (2021). Fundamental Power of Social Media Interactions for Building a Brand and Customer Relations. Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research, 16(5), 1702-1717.

Hussain, K., Jing, F., Junaid, M., Shi, H., & Baig, U. (2020). The buyer–seller relationship: a literature synthesis on dynamic perspectives. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing.

Yenen, S. Ü., & Şahin, G. (2021, November). Digital Customer Acquisition and Onboarding During the Pandemic. In 2021 15th Turkish National Software Engineering Symposium (UYMS) (pp. 1-4). IEEE.