‘Customer relationships’ are (mostly) fiction
Think about what a relationship actually is. Think about your friends, family, partner and even your colleagues at work. Those are relationships. Interaction, investment, understanding – these are all part of a relationship.
Now think about the company from which you bought your last camera. Or television. Do you really consider that you have – or could have – a relationship with such a company? It’s true, you might be, or have, a trusted supplier. The argument for there being a relationship is far stronger. Yet, in many cases, it’s only as strong as your last job or your latest estimate.
This is a reality check only. Of course, we want to build rapport with customers. We want to engender trust. We’d like them to like us. These are all great and valid content marketing goals. But never forget the hard reality. This is not likely to be a relationship in the way that the phrase ‘customer relationship’ seems to imply.
Unlike a real relationship, if you fall out, only one party will have to do the running to get things fixed. Unlike a real relationship, customers are always on the lookout for other suppliers, better deals, better content – replacements for you. It takes far more work to keep customers on-side and it’s folly to presume that, however hard you've worked, you’ve built up a relationship so strong that customers won’t shop around.
This doesn’t provide a get-out-of-jail card, “oh, why bother then?” It’s a reality check. It establishes where the bar is in terms of quality and how much effort is needed to create that all-important pre-disposition to buy. But it seldom creates a real, actual relationship.