Something for something.
Customer relationships very much are premised on a quid pro quo between a company and its customers. That is, the customer/company relationship is an exchange of values, something for something.
Customers want companies to deliver great products, services and experiences at a given price point. In turn, customers reward companies that meet and exceed their expectations with loyalty behaviors, that is the ongoing behaviors that create value for the company. These behaviors include continuing to be a customer, buying other/more/more expensive items and recommending the company to others. Quid pro quo.
Customer relationships are anchored to this exchange. If the customer feels they have been short-changed – crummy or disappointing experiences in particular – they pull out of the exchange and take their business elsewhere. A sort of quid pro go. Companies need to earn customer loyalty . . . and then they need to incessantly reinforce the relationship and continue to earn that loyalty by delivering on their end of the bargain. This does not necessarily mean flawless execution and delight at each and every interaction, but it does mean the continuous delivery on the promise that the customer expects at a minimum. The quid pro quo is ongoing.
What Do Customers Value?
We know what the company wants and values from its customers: enduring loyalty behaviors that drive sales and profits. The company exists to serve its customers.
But what do customers want and value from the company? High quality products and services? Sure, but despite the protestations of companies to the contrary, at any price point most products and services are largely commoditized. This leaves companies striving to differentiate themselves and to deliver on their value proposition to customers by bringing to customers other things of value, namely great experiences.
Be it speed, convenience, an emotional connection, ease of use, empathy, trust, a common cause, seamless interactions, ethical standards, or any of the other myriad items that comprise the customer experience, companies try/strive/yearn to differentiate themselves from the pack by promising and delivering a better experience.
Delivering on the Something
The importance of each of these and other dimensions of the customer experience can be measured and quantified to help companies optimize the quid pro quo, the something they deliver to customers in exchange for the something they want in return.
This all sounds rather mundane and transactional. It’s not. It’s just the details behind the curtain, the individual photon in the rainbow. The raw materials never look as impressive as the finished product.
Customer relationships always have been more than the simple sum of interactions. But every interaction is an opportunity to bring value to customers, strengthen the relationship, to live up to the brand promise and deliver on the quid pro quo . . . and every interaction also presents the risk of disappointing customers, delivering a sub-par experience that disrupts the relationship and undermines the ongoing quid pro quo.
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