Building shareholder value by building customer relationships that drive customer acquisition, retention and profitability across the enterprise. Will Bermender, Customer Interface Magazine, March 2000
The Value of Long Engagements
Success relies on getting your customers to say, ‘I do.’
Customer influence has always shaped the
XX way companies compete, from the early
ZZZdays of the Industrial Revolution and mass
production to the quality revolutions of the
1980s and 1990s.
Businesses are scrambling to take advantage of
new channels, service standards and
personalization. But with nearly every company
instituting data mining, CRM or knowledge
management tools, these techniques are quickly
becoming table stakes.
Building a great company–customer rela-
tionship is not just about tracking static
customer information and purchase patterns so
CSRs can suggest a new product or service that
a customer may be likely to purchase. It is more
than customer profiling. Customers don't want
to receive constant communications; they want
to be involved in interactions, to participate in
dialogues, to be engaged in the relationship.
The competitive advantage is in building a
relationship so strong that customers feel they
can't go to the competition; that doing so is
tantamount to abandoning a trusted friend. You
have to engage the customer in a two-way, open
forum. When customers are actively engaged in
the relationship, they will feel as if they are a
part of the company. Going to the competition
will be unthinkable.
Three factors are critical to successfully
engaging the customer:
Understand all five W's. Most companies
xxxknow four of the five W's that drive
customer behavior: Who the customer is, what
customers say they want, where they want to
purchase and when they would like to purchase.
But very few delve into why their customers
behave as they do. Knowing the "why" is the
key to interacting with customers more
effectively and making the extrapolations
necessary to come up with innovative, hard-to-
duplicate products and services.
Coca-Cola Co. made perhaps the greatest
marketing mistake of all time by not under-
standing the true reasons consumers drink Coke.
Market research and thousands of taste tests
revealed that consumers actually liked the taste
of New Coke better than the original. Eager to
compete with Pepsi, Coca-Cola decided that if
consumers liked the taste better, New Coke
must be what they wanted. That fateful decision
almost cost Coca-Cola its enterprise.
Coca-Cola neglected to consider that consum-
ers drink Coke as much for the tradition, image
and personality of the brand as they do for the
taste. Coca-Cola learned the hard way how
important knowing the "why" is.
Understand and engage the customer
XX continuously over long periods of time.
Customers' life events change who they are and
what they want and need. A new college
graduate has very different needs and wants
from those of a newlywed, new mother or re-
tiree. Companies that learn to grow with their
customers and offer the right products, services
and interactions at the right times will enhance
their ability to create true loyalty.
Create an environment for customers to
xx become an extension of the company.
Directly involving the customer is critical to
truly engaging him. Customers must be given
the opportunity to dialogue with the company
and to provide ideas, inspiration and direction.
Companies may excel at driving true loyalty by
incorporating the input, guidance and direction
of those controlling the market.
Webster's defines "relationship" as a "mutual
exchange between two people or groups who
have dealings with each other." Most companies
view customer relationships not as mutual ex-
changes, but as one-way communications. They
view customers as static objects rather than
living, changing beings. They see customers as
revenue opportunities but not as business part-
ners. With the customer relationship itself
shaping up as the next great battleground for
customer loyalty and competitive advantage,
engaging the customer will become a vital com-
ponent to any CRM strategy.
Will Bermender has spent the past decade driving
customer acquisition, retention and profitability as a
customer service officer across the Fortune 500 landscape.
Do you have a Point of View? Send it to
CIrespond@advanstar.com and we just might publish it.
The competitive advantage is in
building a relationship so strong
that customers feel they can’t
go to the competition.