Are Women Better at Building Customer Relationships and Loyalty?


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A new study published online recently in the journal Emotion by researchers from Berkeley and Northwestern University indicates that women might be better at keeping a long-term marriage relationship on track and “happy.” These studies were related to long-term marriage, but they could have an impact on your customer service teams’ strategy as well.

The study used analysis from videotapes of 80 middle-aged couples in the San Francisco Bay area to see how they recovered from disagreements. In particular what they studied was the time it took based on their body language, facial expressions and emotional and physical responses to one another.

What the researchers discovered was that when conflicts arose in these relationships and the woman was able to remain calm and use “constructive communication”, that the couple maintained a happier marriage overall. Even though men are just as capable at remaining calm and using the same communication methods, this was not the case if the man remained calm. In fact, the conflict and recovery times were prolonged if the man jumped into problem solving too early.

Now clearly we are not “married” to our customers. But there is no doubt that we develop a relationship with them. I wrote a very popular blog called, ‘How to build long lasting relationship with Customers’. In this blog I drew the parallel between a marriage/customers and the resulting customer loyalty.

All relationships are also bound to have conflicts even with Customers. There will be a defective product, or a missed delivery date, or a bungled order dispatch. The fact that these happen is not the issue of course, but how they are resolved is. They must be handled to the satisfaction of the customer for starters. But this does post some interesting questions when you consider the new study results.

So given these differences the study raises some interesting questions:

  • What does satisfaction mean to your customers and does it change based on gender?
  • Do the findings indicate that women might be better at building relationships with Customers as well?
  • Should there by a different strategy for resolving disputes with your customers based on the gender of the customer?

Many people will have heard of the two types of sales people: Hunters and Farmers.  Hunters are good at getting new business. Farmers are sales people who build and cultivate relationships and opportunities within an existing account and can take a customer from good to great based on this relationship.

It seems that building relationships over time and keeping them healthy is something that is tied to women more than men, at least according to the Emotion study. This raises some questions in my mind.

  1. Does that indicate that women are more likely to be farmers on your sales force?
  2. Does this research imply that women are better at developing customer loyalty?
  3. Are women more likely to handle customer relationships better than men?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.


  1. You raise a lot of questions here, and I can’t help but wonder if not only that some of that tendency is true, and could perhaps be stemming from our hunter/gatherer ancestry. I wouldn’t go so far as to assume it is a hard standing rule, but it doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch to say that the genders might be more likely to follow that type of sales to relationship dynamic that the study is suggesting.


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