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Reflection Paper #5 – Customer/Client Relationships Page 1

Reading the chapter in Sias (2009) on Customer/Client Relationships, I was struck with

the question that came to me from reading the case study at the end of the chapter. How did Jill,

the banker used in the example, develop her skills to deal with customers? She had a long

history with the bank, with the customers, and with her industry. Over the 23 years a lot had

changed in banking and with her customers. While she appeared able to change and grow and

support her clients as they grew, for much of the time it seemed as if she was able to adapt well

to the changes in her industry as well. But…there came a time when her way of doing things,

her patterns of service, the expectations her clients had of her , and the overall organizational

face began to lose coherence. She had high levels of trust with her clients, very high quality

interaction and was willing to adapt to client needs, all successful components of “front

people” (Sias, 2009).

How does the structure of the bank affect these primary, bi-lateral relationships? How

did it change over time? Were there structures at the bank when she initially came on board (pre-

aggressive customer relationship management (CRM) tactics) that supported her development

into what is written out to be excellent client relational skills? Did the clients of 23 years ago

need the structures of 23 years ago to begin this quality relationship? Or did that begin a process

that is now based in large part on reputation and prior goodwill, and do new people at the client’s

place of business need a new type of relationship? Is this technologically driven system targeted

to a different generation than what Jill presumeably is? Or does technology and automated

systems dumb down the high achiever front people and instead target the average employee, or

the sub-par salesperson who do not have the primary relationships? On paper it can seem as if

that can be the case, but in fact is that true? The customer no longer seems to be first, rather the
Reflection Paper #5 – Customer/Client Relationships Page 2

technology is primary and everything and everyone else have to conform. How does this

structure work? Is this why the smaller banks in Charlotte have continued to grow? Personal

service when an individual is known and services are hand-picked because they meet the

changing needs of the client vs. technologically targeted salvo’s of product and service ideas

carefully crafted to appeal to the “consumer” but sent out in batches based on carefully sorted


Can CRM and personal care work together, as opposed to crashing into each other and

becoming an either/or proposition? It should be able to work that way. Structuration theory can

be used to analyze the impediments within an organization to finding that balance.

Reflection Paper #5 – Customer/Client Relationships Page 3


Sias, P. M. (2009). Organizing relationships: Traditional and emerging perspectives on

workplace relationships. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.