Your Customer Relationship Depends on the Widget?

Key In on Customers

Key in on Customers

I read an article tonight called Invert Your Thinking About Social CRM that made me pause to wonder just what sort of relationship-building some experts actually do? While the post itself was on point in many regards, I felt almost sorry for the author at the end of the read.  This particular passage is so cynical that I find it almost offensive:

“I suspect that keeping up relationships with customers is harder because the original relationship is more tenuous to begin with. Seriously, there is little or no foundation for a social relationship with most of the people who buy our products and services. Even the casual relationship you struck up last year at your cousin’s wedding a thousand miles away has more to it than the default relationship that exists between you and the person who bought your widget.”

I think that is an unfortunate belief.  In fairness, I guess that would be an acceptable subjective viewpoint if you sold someone a pen-widget or something else disposable and lacking in the need for substantive time spent with the customer, but it just doesn’t ring true as an absolute, especially for those who sell software products and services.  I believe that the kinship nurtured with customers, their employees, vendors and partners during the sales & implementation phases does evolve into more than ‘default relationships’ if you’ve done your job well — and listened in person, before you can apply those listening skills in SM.

I count many, many past ‘people who bought my widgets’ among my SM contacts in various channels.  Sometimes we discuss the products, and just as often we converse about other shared interests we learned about during the widget exchange. From past widget purchasers I continue to learn daily about new technologies in many industries, food/travel tips, book reviews and feature requests/support issues. 

You have to be adept at building the rapport on a personal level outside of Social Media before you can fully appreciate the benefits of overlaps in the communities in which you continue to listen to the customer in other channels.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not negative about the article. I agree with much of it.  Yet, I still feel sorry for anyone who holds this view of customers and I wish they’d had richer experiences.  Or created them.

What the heck is a ‘default customer relationship’ anyway? Thoughts?

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