Customers Want to Interact with You as a Friend

Ok, I will confess up front, that when I start talking about customers, business, marketing, sales, etc. that sooner or later, I will end up saying, “People do business with people that they know and trust.”

Well, they do. It’s a fact. And it works both internally and externally.  Nonetheless, most organizations deny that by the way the interact, sell, market, etc.

Paul Greenberg, in his article “A Company Like Me”, hits on the fact that most of us evaluate the organizations we utilize by comparing their attributes to our own.  More so, if the companies take on the behaviors and personas that we attribute to friendship, then we are more likely to find our needs met through them.

A customer service rep with whom I had built a great relationship in one of my vendor companies recently left the company.  I was stunned and bummed.  I didn’t even want to do business with them. But, I figured that I would transition to the next rep and have an equally satisfying relationship.  So, I called to meet the new person, and the company had not even transitioned the old rep’s work yet (she must have quit or was fired).  I was left with a void.  Finally they sent me to someone that would be absorbing the previous rep’s clients, and when that person showed me nothing more than a transactional, un-interested response to my needs, I dropped them like a hot rock.

I haven’t done business with them since.

Anyways, here are some great points from Greenberg’s article:

1. Customers expect that they can interact with a company the same way that they interact with a friend or a peer whom they trust.
2. They expect a personal relationship with the company, not just with a person in the company, though that’s how the relationship often manifests.
3. They expect that interactions with the company will have the attributes and traits of that deeply personal connection they have to a peer.
4. They expect trustworthiness and transparency to permeate the company’s DNA.
5. They expect that the company is, by some measure, distinctive.
6. They expect the company to converse with them, not push corporate hype at them. Marketing needs to aim for word of mouth — engaging customers in conversation through use of social media like blogs, or engaging internal customers in a conversation through a wiki.
7. They expect coolness and style to be factors in that conversation between customer and company — because they’re intimate factors in conversations between friends.

Well, don’t just sit there, go and do something about it!

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