As humans, we are greatly influenced by our relationships. We enjoy being members of loyalty programs and networking groups that align with our goals. We patronize certain supermarkets, gas stations, and banks, and make most of our purchases from select companies. This showing of consumer loyalty is due to an unspoken relationship that exists between us and the businesses and brands we support. They make us happy, we trust them, and their consistency is calming in a chaotic world with an overwhelming amount of choices.
Relationships are natural, and our preference for who we develop relationships with are often based on past experiences and expectations. Similar to dating, customer relationships involve courting and evolution into permanency or a breakup. At some point in every relationship, there is the question of whether the relationship has a future. At that moment of questioning, the relationship either continues down a happy road, or it ends.
The Courting. In relationships, everything starts perfectly. You show the prospect your best self as the ideal candidate for a long and fruitful relationship. The seduction begins. Promises are made, benefits explained, enticements for loyalty are offered, and declarations are made as to how you and they can create magic together. They find you to be a worthy partner and the two of you begin on a wonderful journey.
The Breakup. As the months go by, they start to feel unhappy that you aren’t paying much attention to them. You forgot their birthday and the last time you were together you were caught flirting with another prospect. They stop answering your calls and the last time they visited something just felt different. Eventually, they start complaining about small things and indirectly question what you are doing with their money. You see it in their behavior that the relationship is coming to an end.
The reality is that the relationship was over a long time before it ended because of those small things that you did or didn’t do which got you to this point. It could have been something as simple as not responding fast enough to their email or text, not paying attention to their needs and wants, or that you’ve failed to notice and respond to how they’ve changed as a person. Either way, they are no longer attracted to you, and they no longer believe in your optimism about the future.
To sustain a relationship with a customer, you’ve got to think like a customer. With every visit, call, or each time you send an invoice to your customer, consciously or unconsciously, your customers are asking themselves questions such as; why did I hire these guys or purchase this product? Do I still need them? Is this worth what I’m paying? Am I making progress? Am I seeing the results they promised? Is this the best company to purchase from? Remember, it’s usually many little things that add up to their decision to terminate the relationship. If you are aware and address those issues from the start, and keep focused on satisfying the customer throughout the relationship, you’re in a much better position to sustain the relationship.