3 reasons why relationships fail

Imagine this…you are on a first date and you sit down for dinner. Before you get to introductions, the person sitting across from you pulls out a piece of paper with an agenda which outlines the expected appetizer, dinner, and dessert choices, in addition to all of the topics of conversations that you will cover, and plans for future dates. You would probably run out of the restaurant and never look back. An experience like that might make you reluctant to date again, and you’d probably tell all of your friends about that horrible situation.

Obviously it is ridiculous to plan out every detail of a potential relationship, but why isn’t it as obvious for organizations when they try to define customer relationships (journeys)? The customers chart the course, not the organization. In order to have meaningful relationships with customers, it is important to watch how they interact, listen to what they’re telling you and learn from all of those interactions so you can engage in a meaningful relationship.

“Companies were in control up until 2000, but now the customer is in the driver’s seat. If you embrace that, you will thrive. If not, then by 2020, you will not survive.” -Jamie Nordstrom

Developing strong customer relationships is crucial in this competitive environment, because ideal customers spend 2x more than regular customers. They also stay with your brand 5x longer. The problem is that 77% of customers cite no relationship with a brand. (Harvard business review)

There is a lot of buzz around the term “customer-centricity,” but as the stat above points out, less than a quarter of customers have meaningful relationships with a brand. The way I see it, Customer-Centricity is a relationship. So why do so many relationships fail?

These three issues lead to failed relationships:

1: Fragmentation 

The customer experience is broken. According to Accenture, 78% of customers don’t receive consistent experiences across channels.

Why? A customer touches multiple departments and technologies throughout their journey. However, companies rarely have a unified strategy for consistently interacting with a customer, which creates a fragmented experience.

2: Transactional business

94% of customers have broke off communication with a company because they receive irrelevant promotions and messages. 

In order for an organization to create customized experiences and engagements, they have to know their customer. Further, they have to be able to use that information in a meaningful way. Here are two examples to consider:

Transactional: About one month ago, I purchased a pair of shoes online. In the order confirmation, it showed the order details and a generic “thank you.” For weeks after I made the purchase, display ads (with the exact shoes) followed me around the internet. Either their system isn’t smart enough to realize I already made the purchase, or they think I need two pairs of the same exact shoes.

Personal: A couple of weeks ago, I purchased a sport coat online. The auto-reply email complimented me on the choice and made suggestions about other items that would go along with the sport coat (dress pants, ties, socks, etc). A day later, I got a notification that it had shipped and they thanked me again and presented me a 10% off coupon for my next purchase. Instead of seeing paid ads asking me to buy another sport coat, I saw personalized ads that matched the products highlighted in the email that would go well with the jacket I purchased.

See the difference?

3: The marketer experience is broken (complex marketing ecosystem)

Because of complex marketing ecosystems, marketers struggle to bring together customer data. According to Forrester, 82% of enterprise marketers have no synchronized view of customer data. Going back to the point above, it’s nearly impossible to deliver personalized messages without having the right customer data. The result is that marketing teams pass their dysfunction onto the customer.

Historically, each department (marketing, sales, service, etc.) has been tasked with deploying technology to achieve their specific business goals. The problem with that, is the data stays in silos and it can’t be used across the organization. Applying consistent technology can break down these silos.

Ensuring success

This might be overly simplistic, but the first step in creating meaningful customer relationships is to be aware of the differences between successful and failed relationships. The second step is to take measures to ensure that your customers aren’t affected by the 3 points above.


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