Defining a customer relationship

Dating advice: No | Relationship advice: Yes

Will you know when it is over? In most relationships, there is a beginning and an end. The stages of the relationship are not always easily defined. Sometimes you realize that you are at a different stage of the relationship long after you have been in that stage or even passed it. The old saying “two steps forward, one step back” resonates when you think of any relationship. 

Certainly, you understand that I’m talking about relationships your brand has with your customers by now. So the question is: Will you know when that relationship has ended?

The real answer

Will you know when it is over? It is never over. The relationship with your customers never truly ends, even after a brand has disappeared. A customer really never stops interacting with your brand. A good CX strategy will recognize that the relationship goes beyond touchpoints, but that it also encompasses acquisition marketing and continues beyond the last purchase. It is a lifetime commitment, make it a good one.

For example, I recently moved to another state. The cable company that I had used for years did not provide service in my new location. Does that mean the relationship is over? Not in the least. While I may not make a direct payment to that company ever again, the brand – for good or bad – will still be impacted by their relationship with me. Someone moving into the area where I used to live may ask for a recommendation. This company provided me with free-for-life access to my old email address. I may write a blog about my experiences with this company. None of this will move a payment from my wallet to their top line, but each of these possibilities is a part of the relationship. Over nearly twenty years, I was bound to have some good times and bad times, just like any relationship. It is one of the reasons that closed-loop feedback is so important. This brand-customer breakup wasn’t an ugly one. It wasn’t perfect, but I’ll still have more good things to say than bad. 

Even beyond subscribing to a service, all brand-customer relationships have this dynamic. The purchase of a box of cookies, dining at a restaurant, or a longer-term purchase like buying a car all have phases in the relationship, but the relationship doesn’t end – even if the purchases stop. 

Relationship advice – CX style

A key reason to conduct CX surveys is to communicate with your customers. Communication is key to all relationships. How much you communicate and when you communicate may be factored differently based on that relationship – that may come along specific touchpoints in the customer journey or understanding the voice-of-the-customer holistically. The impact of that communication should be weighted by how much that relationship means to your company – using revenue weighted NPS

While you have a paying customer, it is important for them to feel they are valued and that your company gets the expected value in return. Years down the road, whether they are still a paying customer or not, make certain that they still talk positively about the relationship. That is the reason to have a CX strategy – not just measurement today or on certain touchpoints, but a relationship that lasts a lifetime, one that you want your customers to brag about.