Recently I was in a group discussion and the conversation turned to customer service and the lack of it in many businesses today. It moved from companies failing to hire or put more emphasis on training their front line staff to how employees’ attitude can impact the company’s reputation and revenues.
I spoke of the importance of relationship marketing to businesses of all types and sizes, but mentioned that it begins with excellent customer service and the customer experience. The question was asked if all three were not basically the same thing.
While customer service, the customer experience, and customer relationship marketing are all connected, they are not the same. Since my discussion partners were business owners I felt this was a question other business owners may have, and a blog post idea was born. Today I will share with you an illustration and some quotes that hopefully will give some clarity.
First Date Arranged by Friends/Customer Service: Couple meets for the first time for dinner. They smile, a bit tentatively, introduce themselves, order dinner, make small talk, and begin to get to know each other.
Dinner through the End of the Date/WOW Customer Experience: Dinner is served, they’re discovering they have a lot of mutual friends, they have a lot in common. The initial tentative smiles are now laughter that cause their closest neighbors to look over and smile. It’s obvious that they’re delighted with each others’ company. They linger over dessert as they know they want to see each other again.
Phone Calls, Texts, Emails/Follow-up: As the hours, days and weeks go by they stay in contact and are developing an emotional bond.
Emotional Bond and Commitment/Customer Relationship Marketing: Over time as the emotional bond grows they commit to each other and decide that they want to spend the rest of their lives together.
“The course of true love never did run smooth.” William Shakespeare. There may be challenges in the relationship as with your customers and clients, but how you handle the challenges will determine if your customers, with whom you’ve created an emotional bond, remain loyal to you.
Quotes on Relationship Marketing
“I view relationship marketing as a brand’s ability to create an emotional connection with the customer.” Jay Deutsh
“Relationship marketing emphasizes maintaining customer satisfaction that in turn leads to a strong and loyal customer base instead of focusing on a large quantity of sales transactions.” Sara Howard
“Relationship marketing is a strategy designed to foster customer loyalty, interaction, and long-term engagement. It is designed to develop strong connections with customers by providing them with information directly suited to their needs and interest, and by promoting open communication.” Forbes
“Most businesses do not have a clear understanding of what relationship marketing really is and how to successfully put it into practice.” Gregory Ciotti
“Today’s consumers are more informed than you can imagine. This has resulted in a drastic shift in consumer power and has altered the selling process by placing a greater emphasis on the customer experience.” Gregory Ciotti
So when a business of one or more provides excellent customer service and a WOW experience, customers want to continue doing business with you and it allows you to develop a relationship with them. All of these combined together is what relationship marketing is about.
Which of the three areas do you believe businesses find most challenging, especially small to medium-size businesses?