Too often, the effort and focus that go into winning a customer are put on the back burner once that first sale is done. Suppliers continue to provide service, of course, but there’s some complacency; once the prospect is a customer, it’s feels like the hard part is over. For a number of reasons, though, suppliers should consistently celebrate and nurture the relationships they’ve built with customers. In fact, “customer intimacy” is seen as a way to keep customers satisfied with your company and make them confident and eager to give you more business.
Customer intimacy is about delivering on customers’ needs well beyond the sale; it’s about continuing to learn about and serve them in the best ways so that you become an invaluable resource – one that’s in a position to offer insights, guidance and solutions that improve his or her business.
The concept of customer intimacy features 4 pillars that, when given priority in your organization, will help you become better and more highly valued to your customers…and someone they "can’t live without":
Without honest and timely communication, projects, whether big or small, become very difficult to manage successfully. Regular communication can be time-consuming, but it’s essential in order for your team and your customers to feel empowered to make good decisions, and it significantly reduces the likelihood of missteps and mistakes. On the other hand, though, you can also communicate too much, if your customer is someone who hates an inbox flooded with not-so-critical updates. Finding his or her “sweet spot” when it comes to the frequency and detail involved in communicating is key to delivering the right information at the right time.
Knowledge is power, and in this case, it’s additional power you have to be a go-to resource for your customer. The more you know about your customer’s business – their markets, challenges, products, competitors, customers, prospects and more – the more insightful your recommendations (and questions) will be. A deep understanding of the customer’s business demonstrates your interest in doing what’s best for his business, and it enhances the value you represent as a long-term partner.
When you have a depth of knowledge about your customers, you’re in the position to make proactive recommendations that help them avoid costly issues down the road – and to identify opportunities for improvement that could make them more profitable. What customer doesn’t want a partner like that? The best partners are those who want to know as much about their customers as they do about their own businesses – and take the necessary steps to learn.
The best way to make your entire organization accountable for the company/customer relationship’s success is to involve them in a formalized effort. That should include measuring customers’ overall satisfaction with you. Some companies send out brief “voice of the customer” surveys (3-5 questions) that ask about their performance on the latest project or over a period of time. These give customers the opportunity to bring issues to light, which gives you the chance to rectify problems before they get worse. You can even do a reciprocal survey, allowing your company to share ideas and perspectives that could make the working relationship even stronger.
Customer intimacy should be something every person in every organization is responsible for, though the role of each is different. Buyers should be looking for the best component at the best price; production should be building to the highest quality standards; and sales should be talking directly with engineers so customers’ desires are clear at all times. Together, your efforts will demonstrate to the customer that, organization-wide, you’re focused on a close, mutually beneficial relationship you both care about.
If you want to know more about how MCL practices customer intimacy, check out our 2-page case study How MCL Minimized a Customer’s Production Delays. Download your free copy by clicking the button below.