Customer intimacy. An awkward phrase for something so vital to improving loyalty in your clients. I was once introduced to an audience of business leaders with, “Here’s Dave Potts. He has a passion for customer intimacy.” Yuck. That still doesn’t sound right.
To some businesses, customer intimacy is a marketing strategy. To others it’s implementation of loyalty programs. And some think it’s a waste of time and money altogether. I prefer to think of customer intimacy as an environment where you and the customer are as close as you can be in wishing for each other’s success.
Customer intimacy should be the responsibility of everyone in the company – those who interact with the customers and those who support those interactions. It doesn’t have to be overly scripted and costly. I believe there are two essential components to customer intimacy: what you do and how you act. Business people usually focus more on the first than the second.
1. What You Do (Physical Actions)
- Depth of Knowledge – Are you the one they can turn to for all the details? Can you give them the exact information they want and need?
- Frequency of Contact – Do you stay in touch? Do you know how often and by what means your customer wants you to contact them?
- Range of Coordination – Is your internal network of contacts wired solid? Can you reach back into your company to get what your customer needs?
- Timeliness of Response – If there’s an issue, can you get them an answer quickly? Do you give updates on the response if the answer is delayed?
2. How You Act (Personal Connections)
- Openness to Communication – Do you engage in conversations with your customers? Are they comfortable talking with you?
- Willingness to Listen and Understand – When a customer speaks, do you hear opportunities or problems? Potential solutions or objections?
- Projection of Respect and Trust – Do the words you use with customers convey appreciation for their business? Do they feel they can count on you?
- Ease of Doing Business – Are you comfortable to work with? Are your customers relaxed around you? Happy to see you?
What you do is very important to customer intimacy. Every transaction you have is evaluated in the customer’s mind as either correct or incorrect in details. But at the same time, customers are sensing if the transaction is good or bad for them personally. The details are vital, but the emotions rule.
More attention to these two customer intimacy components can better address both the customer’s technical and emotional needs and can lead to greater customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and customers unable to imagine a world without you and your company in it.