Information Technology

The role of the Business Relationship Manager

You may think your customer needs a shiny yellow ball –but what if they actually need a shiny yellow cube? Paul Wigzel discusses the importance of a skilled Business Relationship Manager to decode what exactly your client needs and how that matches the service your organisation can offer them.

"So I’m really confused... My company works their backsides off to deliver services to the customer, we are all doing beyond what we need to do, but still the customer feedback is ‘okay’. Okay? Seriously!"

This is an all-too familiar conversation in organisations at the moment and the global pandemic has made this situation even worse for some.

Many organisations have turned to the ITIL framework to help and this can, and generally does, focus the service provider on some key issues, like the service provider’s consumers, or the service packages they offer.

But the biggest lessons learned are the importance of mapping the customer journey, understanding touchpoints, and looking at the outcomes the service provider delivers. Above all, it's recognising the key deliverables for the customer and, most importantly, what the customer truly values.

What is the definition of value to a customer?

We have all become used to service providers telling us what we as consumers want. Just consider a mobile phone or a laptop operating system – of all the multitude of apps and tools these devices deliver, which did we truly ask for, which are actually of any value for us, the individual consumer?

A fantastic camera on a mobile phone may be exactly what some need, but is it what every customer wants? Personally, I’d rather have a lesser camera but a battery that lasts 50% longer... but heh, no-one asked me! Or a laptop that has a multitude of ports on the side... but heh, who asked if every customer wanted the removal of the optical drive?

Similarly, organisations face a situation when the service provider frequently thinks they know what the customer or consumers want from the service they provide, but rarely truly know. So what’s the obvious solution? Ask them!

The Business Relationship Manager will find out

And this is where the role of the Business Relationship Manager (BRM) resides, or as ITIL now refers to them, the Relationship Manager (RM). The role of the BRM or RM team is to manage the relationship between the business (customer) and the service provider at a strategic and tactical level. The Service Managers or Service Level Managers can support the customers at the operational level, but it is at a higher, more strategic level that there is frequently a gap in skills, knowledge or application.

QA's Business Relationship Management Practitioner course meets that exact requirement.

Within this QA-facilitated course, attendees are taken through discussion and the APMG courseware, given concepts, skills and, most importantly, the tools to enable them to return to their organisations with:

  • a clear understanding of the BRM role;
  • a clear vision of the benefits of having that role or team within the organisation – as a navigator, connector and/or orchestrator between the provider's management team and the customer's management team;
  • the tools to facilitate that role.

Make no mistake, the BRM role is a senior role or a team working at a senior level, being the translator between the real customer requirements and the actual service delivery opportunities. They sit astride the two parties, they aim to be not only a trusted advisor on both sides, but also ensure strategic alignment between the organisations.

This role/team is the secret to delivering exactly what the customer wants (or thinks they want) within the reality of the service provider's skillset and abilities. Just because customer A wants a shiny yellow ball of a service, doesn’t mean that customer B, in the same market space, doing the same job, also wants a shiny yellow ball – they may want a shiny orange cube...

Your Business Relationship Manager will help define the colour and shape and, most importantly, communicate why. 

Find out more about QA’s 3-day virtual Business Relationship Management Professional course, in association with APMG.

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