What is Customer Management?

Customer management is a collection of tools, strategies, and processes designed to manage a company’s relationship with its customers. Successful customer management is a multi-faceted initiative that connects with and validates the customer experience at different touchpoints.

Because customers and customer satisfaction are essential to the long-term success of any enterprise, customer management is a critical business function at all levels of an organization.

Common elements of customer management programs

Customer management programs can take many different forms, depending on the company, the industry, and the specific products and services provided.

However, proper customer management prioritizes careful outreach and oversight at all stages of the customer journey, with special emphasis on customer loyalty, satisfaction, and retention.

Common elements of customer management programs include:


Customer management begins the moment a customer buys a company’s products or services. A proper onboarding program, including introductory communications, registration, setup, and training, help set the proper tone for a company’s relationship with a customer. Onboarding that is missing can have a negative impact on a customer’s long-term prospects.

Support and service

Comprehensive, supportive customer service is a key part of managing relationships. If a product or service is not working as intended, or breaks down unexpectedly, customers demand an easy and timely response. If a company fails to do so, it not only prevents the product and service from delivering as promised—it also reinforces a negative perception on the customer’s end.

Marketing and outreach

A sale shouldn’t be the end of the interaction between the company and its customer. To properly manage the relationship, companies should be prepared to reach out to customers regularly to check-in on product usage, gauge customer satisfaction, proactively address concerns, and advertise special offers, upgrades, and bonuses. Because many customers may perceive some of this outreach as spam, businesses should be prepared to structure these communications in a way to make sure they reach their intended targets.

Lifecycle management

All products and services eventually run their course and become obsolete. Customer management prepares for this inevitability by monitoring the lifecycle of the products customers currently have, and ensuring their retention, continued success, and satisfaction by working to move them to more current and relevant offerings as needed.

The role of technology in customer management

To manage all of these interactions, companies often rely on a centralized database to store information on all of their customers, including:

  • General contact, personal, and demographic information;
  • Purchase history;
  • Customer service and technical support history;
  • Additional staff notes.

These databases are usually known as customer relationship management (CRM) systems. CRMs require a large amount of care and maintenance to make sure they are complete, up to date, and easily accessible by all employees. 

When maintained correctly, CRMs are a vital tool for customer management by providing a single source of data in one place that can be immediately accessed during any customer interaction, or any other time as needed. They can also be set to deliver automatic notifications to staff to remind them to conduct pre-determined outreach or follow-up, ensuring a seamless process for both customers and businesses.