Customers are seeking an increasing level of control over their relationships with product and service providers. When they choose to interact with a business, they frequently do so with a preconceived notion of how the relationship will be structured.
That notion can change over time, but should, ideally, change only in response to the customer’s needs.
Too often, businesses either don’t understand the different relationships, or fail to segment customer interactions according to relationship types.
To help avoid those issues, businesses can use CRM data as a sort of “crystal ball” to identify customer behaviour patterns and develop tailored approaches to maximize the relationships between their clients and the company. Here are some of the more common relationship types, and how to identify them using CRM data.
These customers know what they want, and are only interested in enough information to convince them to get it from you. They aren’t interested in your content, and don’t want to take a survey. It’s Ok to send them an occasional email after the sale, but constant updates or sales calls will push them to a business that understands their desire to be independent. Watch for:
- Fast movement through the sales funnel
- Minimal contact throughout the sales process
- Doesn’t mind paying a premium for a quick sale
- No contact after the sale, unless problems arise
- No response to emails, social media posts, or other interactions
Dependent customers need whatever you’re selling. Whether it’s a service like cable TV, or a product like prescription medications, they need to have it, and have limited options for getting it. This can make them more tolerant of transgressions, but also more needy. They may require a lot of personal attention and occasional hand-holding. Some signs of dependency are:
- Slow progress, or repeated progress, through the sales funnel
- Frequent, in-depth contact during and after sales
- Unlikely to negotiate for a lower price, but…
- …will take advantage of savings and specials when offered
- Frequent interaction through social media or other channels
These customers like you. They really, really do. They consider themselves to be in a business relationship with a trusted partner. They read content, respond to some emails, sales calls, and survey requests, and make frequent purchases. Breaches of trust could be seen as a betrayal, and turn them from a committed customer into a permanent enemy. Some identifiers are:
- They stay in the sales end of the funnel
- These customers consume, and respond to, a lot of content
- Frequently complete surveys, with positive answers
- Champion your brand on social media channels
- Exhibit patience when service issues arise
Reading The Signs
These broad categories break down into dozens of other sub-categories. There are also crossovers and combinations that make things even more complex. The point isn’t to perfectly classify each customer, but to be engaged in an active process of understanding the relationship cues they’re providing you.
Your customers are already telling you everything you need to know about the relationships they’re seeking. The question is, are you listening?