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6. May 2020

Customer Relationships - How to create them and keep the fire burning

by Nico Rudorf und Claudia Lang
Blaues Auge einer Frau, die gerade in die Kamera schaut

CRM - a term can hardly sound more technical. Yet Customer Relationship Management is all about people and the relationships between them. So what can we learn from our interpersonal relationships to create customer relationships that are enriching and fun, where initial excitement can give way to long-term trust?

Relationships are pretty exciting at the beginning and pretty hard work over time. Customer relationships also demand more after the initial excitement.

In the future, customers will engage with a brand voluntarily or not at all. There is ratio, but also a lot of emotion at work. This makes it all the more important to entice customers with attractive marketing, and not just at the beginning of the customer relationship. Strong brands are trustworthy, empathetic companions for their users.

But how do you get to this point? What processes and materials does it take? And what do you actually talk about with each other, and at what moments do you remain silent? Here are our key guidelines for successful customer relationship management.

The only constant is change.

Customer needs are volatile and changing. And they do so faster and faster. What is considered special today will be the norm tomorrow. Customers have high expectations, which they constantly compare with other brand experiences.

Customer relationship management must counter this by not setting up endless strategy processes whose results are supposed to last for years. Rather, work should be done in agile processes and sprint logic. This allows companies to create results quickly and ensure that the world out there doesn't move on without them.

The very short legs of the lie

Every brand makes a promise to its customers. Every company stands for something beyond the product or service it sells. It's often the reason customers are there and not somewhere else.

Brand must be thought of at all interfaces to the customer. Only in this way can companies deliver on what they have promised elsewhere. Customers often judge how well or poorly a promise is kept by individual, memorable moments that elicit not just an "aha" but a "wow" from them. To achieve this, relationship management must be approached holistically and think outside the box.

Quality beats quantity

Every day, new potential touchpoints emerge to communicate and engage with customers. And with every channel you fear you have to serve, new challenges arise. The more heterogeneous the target group, the more diverse the requirements.

No one has unlimited resources - neither companies nor customers. We don't believe that customers want to communicate with a brand on all channels. Selected channels that are consistently lived and maintained are preferred. So: It's better to do one thing really well than three half-heartedly.

Humanity as a differentiating factor

Closeness is a basic human need. Digitalization does nothing to change that. It's not for nothing that we also talk about TOUCHpoints in digital spaces. So how can we make the digital address human and create proximity even over distances?

A shared vision creates inward orientation and helps to act authentically and humanely even in new digital environments. Common guidelines help to evaluate what really suits a brand and how closeness and empathy can also be transported via new channels. The following always applies: Humanity needs people - without them, nothing will happen.

There are always two people in a relationship

Customer centricity has become an indispensable buzzword. But is the customer really the only planet in our solar system around which we should revolve? Or don't we sometimes lose sight of our employees because of all the customer focus?

A genuine relationship is created when two people meet at eye level and in an authentic way. This also means not only focusing on the customer, but also thinking about the people on the company side. Because only when measures are actually lived and are also fulfilling for employees can honest interaction arise.

How long does love last? Naive romantics would answer at this point: a lifetime. We are not naive. Love always lasts only for the moment. But we are romantic. That's why we believe in good relationships that involve a lot of work.

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