Customer intimacy measures the attentiveness with which a company can meet consumer needs. One of the best definitions of the concept comes from strategy experts Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema who described it as “segmenting and targeting markets precisely and then tailoring offerings to match exactly the demands of those niches.”
Understanding customer intimacy
Customer intimacy is a measure of an organization’s awareness and understanding of customer values and needs.
Customer intimacy is more than simply taking a proactive approach to customer interaction.
Instead, the companies that will succeed are those that see customer intimacy as a two-way connection where perception matters.
Success is also contingent on an ability to build a customer-oriented culture that permeates every level and department of the company.
These companies also understand the needs and expectations of the target audience and the importance of close communication and resource creation to maximize the value of products and services.
As Treacy and Wiersema explained in a Harvard Business Review article, “No company can succeed today by trying to be all things to all people. It must instead find the unique value that it alone can deliver to a chosen market.”
Why is customer intimacy important?
Unlike traditional marketing strategies focusing on promotion and selling, customer intimacy is very much about customer service and satisfaction.
When customers are satisfied, several important benefits can be realized. These include improvements to brand reputation, sales volume, customer retention, team decision-making, and customer loyalty.
Customer intimacy is also seen as particularly important in markets with a lack of product differentiation.
With each product the same as all others, customers tend to choose companies whom they believe care about them the most.
This ability to stand out from the competition is likely to become more important in the future.
Buyers have more power and choice than at any point in free market history and many industries – such as software and transportation – are now hyper-competitive.
Customer intimacy strategies
There are many ways that a business can foster customer intimacy. Here are just a few of them:
- Company-wide customer support – hearing about customer stories or pain points from others is not the same as experiencing them firsthand. To increase customer intimacy and build authentic connections, involving every employee in customer support can be useful–whether a new intern or the CEO.
- Customer advisory boards (CABs) – think of a customer advisory board as a panel of the company’s most valued customers that is similar in form and function to the board of directors. CABs offer unvarnished advice, review industry trends, and address mutual opportunities or problems.
- Customer meetups – many companies utilize meetups to learn more about their customers. This is effective since the attraction of an event where one can interact with like-minded individuals is strong. Meetups should ideally be held in cities where key team members work and feature a keynote speaker who is admired by (and can mingle with) customers in a somewhat natural and relaxed environment.
- Customer intimacy is a measure of an organization’s awareness and understanding of customer values and needs.
- Unlike traditional marketing strategies which focus on promotion and selling, customer intimacy is very much about customer service and satisfaction. It may be particularly effective in hypercompetitive markets or those characterized by little product differentiation.
- Businesses can foster customer intimacy via customer meetups and customer advisory boards that are similar to a standard board of directors. Some companies will also benefit from involving all levels of management in customer service so that employees can hear problems firsthand.
Connected Agile Frameworks
Read Also: Continuous Innovation, Agile Methodology, Lean Startup, Business Model Innovation, Project Management.
Read Next: Agile Methodology, Lean Methodology, Agile Project Management, Scrum, Kanban, Six Sigma.
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