Think About “Fit.” It Will Build Relationships

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There are some product and service categories where “fit” is critical and where firms are missing an opportunity. Customization and personalization are very powerful concepts in the building of customer relationships. Customers routinely comment that they like being paid attention to; that they hate being “just a number.” Therefore, to fit the product or service to the individual customer is to show that you are listening, that you are paying attention, and that you know your customer really well.

Recently, I have been paying a great deal more attention to the notion of “fit”, because to fit a person with a product or service sends a powerful message that you are customizing that product or service to his or her needs. But, we tend to think of fitting a product mainly in the context of clothing or footwear. We have to make sure that the dress or the pair of shoes fits. It says a lot about a retailer who will say to a customer “I can’t let you buy that because I know you will be disappointed”; in her view it just doesn’t fit that customer.

There are many other product categories where the concept of fit can be applied equally well. Why can’t we think of fitting the customer with the right mattress, the right tires, or the right mortgage?

Recently, I was discussing this concept with a tire retailer who clearly understood the need to fit a car with the right tires. But, when I suggested that he also fit the tires to the driver, it opened up a whole new set of possibilities. Why would a tire retailer not ask about the driver, how much driving he or she does each year, where and on what surfaces, in-town or on highways? Once that information is obtained, the right set of tires can be fitted to the driver — that’s much more personal.

The same principle applies to the delivery of service. Customers love it when a company is accommodating and able to “fit” into their schedules. Not everyone wants or needs the same level or type of service. Every time we customize service, we are fitting it to the customer.

Think about how you can send the message that you are not selling the same thing to all customers, that you are making a special effort to know customers so well that you can select the best product or service for them. Make them feel special because you are tailoring the product or service to their needs.

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