Why Customer “Relationships” Are Overrated


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If you’re trying to build a relationship with your customers, you might be starting off on the wrong foot.

That’s the takeaway from a new Corporate Executive Board study, which found that the vast majority of consumers (77%) had no interest in developing a “relationship” with the businesses they patronized.

Most people view relationships as being reserved for friends and loved ones. (“It’s just a brand, not a member of my family” was how many of those surveyed described their feelings.)

Customers don’t want a relationship with your business. All they want is for the products they purchase to work as promised, as expected. All they want is for your front-line staff to do what they said they were going to do. All they want is for your company to make their lives easier, not harder.

The irony is, if you deliver all those things consistently, customers will love you for it – because they rarely get that from most firms. Though they may still claim to not have a “relationship” with your company, they will be drawn to do business with you again and again.

And the value of that loyalty is something any business can relate to.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jon Picoult
As Founder of Watermark Consulting, Jon Picoult helps companies impress customers and inspire employees. An acclaimed keynote speaker, Jon’s been featured by dozens of media outlets, including The Wall St Journal and The New York Times. He’s worked with some of the world’s foremost brands, personally advising CEOs and executive teams.Learn more at www.watermarkconsult.net or follow Jon on Twitter.


  1. I encourage small businesses NOT to believe that research conducted by big brands applies to them because it usually does not. No, we can’t have a relationship with a multi-national corporation that only wants our money and doesn’t care about us at all – but we CAN have a relationship with their local representative who will actually try to get them to provide support.

    The advantage a GOOD small business has is that they actually care about their customers. With them we DO want a relationship and our spending patterns will prove this. We eat at THIS Mexican restaurant where the owner greets us and answers our questions about his favorite dishes instead of THAT Mexican restaurant where the paid help knows little about the food and is not willing to find out.

    We buy from THIS feed store because they special ordered something we wanted that they don’t normally carry instead of THAT feed store where the prices are slightly lower but they are unfriendly and could care less what we want.

    In every town there are real life stories of the former owner who growled at anyone who walked in the door and wondered why he had no business and the new owner whose business thrives because they treat everyone as though they just spent $1000 there.

    And more stories about the thriving small business that was sold to a new owner and gradually was less and less busy until the old owner took it back over. It can’t be the location and it wasn’t the inventory – it was the RELATIONSHIP that mattered!


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