Customer intimacy is a type of customer-centric business practice that businesses use to learn as much as possible about existing & potential customers as well as the target market to make personalized products, services, or marketing strategies that not only meet but also exceed their expectations.
Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema in their book The Discipline of Market Leaders emphasized the importance of customer intimacy strategy by saying-
“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.”
Customer intimacy refers to providing buyers and target buyers with their requirements, wants, and ideas. It is setting one’s concentration towards marketing and cultivating long-term customer relations by targeting markets precisely.
What is Customer Intimacy?
Definition: Customer intimacy is defined as a business strategy based upon detailed customer knowledge to know all customer needs for aligning company culture towards offering personalized products and services to optimize tremendous customer loyalty and reduce customer churn.
Customer intimate companies pay high attention to customer needs, so they can prioritize those needs in their business processes. The customer intimacy approach involves close contact and outreach to customers by using a wide variety of channels- for understanding customer-journey and tailoring offerings across to empower customers and foster customer-driven revenue growth for such companies.
It is one of the three main elements of The Values Discipline Model that strategy experts Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema suggested in the early 1990s. All the three elements that were suggested in the book The Discipline of Market Leaders are:
- Operational Excellence: It is associated with the ability to offer good products at the lowest total cost
- Product Leadership: It revolves around developing new and better products with the help of differentiation and innovation strategies
- Customer Intimacy: It talks about the continued customization of products and services to fulfilling special requests of new and existing customers
Understanding Customer Intimacy Strategy
Customer intimacy is not merely about following a proactive strategy with buyers but about focusing on a particular group of buyers whose demands your company can easily satisfy and optimize customer lifetime value (CLV).
Business models that want to maintain customer intimacy incorporate highly engaged employees who are dedicated to the understanding need of the individual customer to fulfill the specific needs of the customer base. Ensuring the personalized customer experience is one of the key roles of developing intimacy with potential clients or audiences.
Customer intimacy model brings certain benefits for many companies such as-
- Businesses can improve the products they launch in the market. It helps the companies understand their buyers so closely that they easily can predict their customer’s needs, demands, passions, and wishes at times, even before the buyers themselves.
- Organizations get to innovate their products as they deeply understand what their customers want. It stimulates constant and uniform variation. Businesses can also opt for competitive prices as per the inclinations of target audiences.
- Not to mention the fact that there has been an increase in the number of businesses worldwide. It has led to tough competition among these firms. Firms that focus on their customers and give them the utmost priority lead the market. Companies need to be apprised of the changing customer requirements constantly.
- Since the company receives information of every difficulty associated with the buyers and the entire business, they are further capable of innovation. As a result, they promote and trade their commodities more efficiently. Word-of-mouth advertising has a significant part, but the customer relations a company maintains are also crucial.
Should you plan for Customer Intimacy Approach?
For a business firm to excel, it is essential to maintain a consistent relationship with the target customers. To sell your products, you will need to know about your customers. There wouldn’t be any company that would deny the need for customer intimacy.
Businesses that concentrate on customer intimacy are the ones that build friendly connections with their clients and thoroughly know their role. These businesses converge on rendering the services especially required by their client.
It is formed revolving around the notion of keeping the customer as the focus of every business. It operates opposite to the traditional knowledge in retailing, placing the principal goal of marketing as knowing the buyer well enough, rather than implementing “proven” methods of sale. It assists in working with clients better, which as a result, heightens the business name and yields rising incomes.
Some of the questions whose answers will tell you if you need to be customer intimate or not-
- Does your company find that offering a top-quality product and excellent customer service isn’t sufficient to build a solid brand anymore?
- Is the profit margin on your product or service so little that you can’t decrease their prices? In this situation, are you not being able to find any ways to offer more value to your customers?
- Does your customer base want an all-in-one solution to an issue rather than the product that you offer at present?
- Are you confused that you have a lot of data, but you are not being able to use that data to create some changes?
- Do you want to use social media for your brand messaging but you are not being able to let your voice heard by your target audiences and build relationships?
In case the answers to these questions are ‘Yes’ then it essential for your business to plan for a customer intimacy strategy.
Advocates of customer intimacy term this the “virtuous circle”, in which a great thing drives to another one. It should be observed that customer intimacy proceeds past engagement, which attempts to create discussions by attracting the customers.
Staying definite about your absolute preference assures that every system is designed to provide the advantage, and each one in your company is moving towards the same purpose.
Steps to Maintain Customer Intimacy
Customer intimacy is deeper than merely striving to satisfy the customers. Here are steps to develop customer intimacy –
1. Encourage your employees
A company must encourage its employees to work together towards a common goal. Provide your employees with the tools and resources they need to fulfill the customer expectations. You can offer rewards for ones performing great. It is vital to hire individuals who are dedicated and motivated towards maintaining customer intimacy.
2. Use Customer data efficiently
Customer data would require you to research and analyze every customer. It is a difficult task but needs to be executed properly. Figure out the active trends in the market. Implement new strategies to attract customers according to their data.
3. Focus on potential customers
Every customer is different and requires a different approach. The customers can be divided into several groups based on certain factors. Companies need to identify the customers who are most likely to purchase the product. Customer intimacy needs information and perception and also requires funds and efforts. Companies need to recognize the clients or market sections that can add significance to your firm.
4. Discover external partnerships
A company can work with many other companies to find effective solutions. It would help the company provide a variety of products to the customers.
Customer Intimacy Strategies for Customer-Centric Companies
Among the primary difficulties, businesses in this competitive business world are failing to hold up repetitive buyers. When businesses do not foster customer intimacy enough, income, customer loyalty, and opinion can be negatively affected that might wreck the company.
So here are some customer intimacy strategies that can help in connecting with the customers closely:
1. Every employee should engage in customer support
The service that the customer experiences in a company is always different from what they hear and read about customer experiences. It is essential for every employee of the company, be it the CEO, manager, intern, everyone, to interact with the customers. Every employee should understand what the customer needs so that they know what goal are they aiming for.
2. Customers should be the priority
A company that wants to augment profits needs to keep their customer as the center. Top-notch companies like Amazon keep their customer the core of every decision they make. Undoubtedly, it is very well acknowledged how successful the company is. Customers need to feel that they are important to the company.
3. Customers must feel valued
Companies should let the customers know that their views and opinions are valuable to your company. They must encourage the customers to tell what they honestly feel about the company, what needs to be improved, what do they like the most, what should be avoided from the company’s end. All such questions must be answered by the customers.
4. Organizing Customer Events
Organizing customer events will lead to the creation of close relations of the company with the customers. Companies can interact with their customers and learn about them but in a fun way! These events will help to attract new customers as well. Customers can also bring along their family, friends, relatives to these events. It will help the company to promote and impact a large audience. The aim is to get together, interact, understand, and discover new things from one another.
5. Knowing the journey of the customer
Companies need to understand the journey their customer goes through while buying a product. Since the aim of customer intimacy revolves around forming long-term connections, the company should have a journey map. Moreover, learning to predict customer requirements will enable the company to identify a pattern and supply better goods and services.
6. Support customers to organize meetups
Companies must encourage their customers to hold gatherings with people sharing the same interests. This way, the company does not even require to be present in this meetup. Customers can themselves interact and learn about each other’s experiences.
7. Offer customer training courses or educational resources
If a company sells a robust commodity or service that’s generally approved in the business world, organize customer training programs. These programs will help the customers to grow as business specialists and empower them to advise to assist them in developing their image and gaining more income.
Your educational resources should empower customers to drive more value from your products or services. Different free resources that you might use here are- blogging, YouTube videos, social media content, webinars, video classes, etc.
8. Write case studies about your customers
Writing case studies about your existing customer base will help you in capitalizing on that as your brand’s social proof. You may also solicit testimonials from your satisfied customers. It works as an effective mouth marketing strategy as well. This will let your target audiences check out your products or services that provide you an opportunity to intimate with your new customers and convert them with some personalized offers.
9. Incorporate customer-centric policies
Your customer service policies should be designed in a way that they benefit and help your customers in getting more value from your products or services. Being a customer-centric company is one of the key strategies for optimizing customer intimacy.
10. Use Customer advisory boards (CABs)
Most companies like Chrysler, Wells Fargo, and IBM that want to intimate with customers incorporate the Customer Advisory Board which acts as the go-to panels for the most valued customers. Such boards are responsible for doing similar sorts of activities that a board of directors but CABs do this from the point of view of customers.
11. Optimize personalization
Despite having great products from which your entire organization is fully satisfied, brands need to take personalization to the next level for being customer-intimate. Your product or service should connect with your target audiences on a whole other level to enjoy customer loyalty. Using data and customer analytics will help you make the right moves for personalizing your products, services, or marketing strategies.
How to Measure Customer Intimacy?
Representatives recognize the requirements and aspirations of the individuals they are providing, and this is revealed by lower churn, less inner conflict, added loveable outcomes, and productive group decision-making.
Customer Intimacy can be measured by –
1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)
NPS is a leading metric used in several businesses. It is meant to estimate customer loyalty.
2. Word-of-mouth emotion
It refers to finding what the customers and clients think of your company.
3. Product selection rate
Product selection can provide a solid base for the past situation, as it confers growing consumer need for your commodity.
4. Client churn
It indicates the amount of time a customer continues using a product.
Advantages of Customer Intimacy
Some of the key upsides of customer intimacy you should always have in your mind are-
- Customer intimacy is advantageous for every company and industry structure.
- Customer Intimacy includes acquiring the maximum possible information concerning one’s clients to satisfy their needs.
- Organizations that progress in customer intimacy join comprehensive customer data with work adaptability so that employees can reply instantly to every requirement, from designing a commodity to meeting specific demands.
- As a result, these businesses induce enormous customer loyalty.
Challenges of Customer Intimacy
Some of the challenges that intimacy strategies might face are-
A company achieves customer intimacy only and only if the entire team is a part of it. Customer satisfaction involves all processes from scratch. A company not having cooperation among their employees will find it difficult to obtain customer intimacy.
2. Discover data and execute
A company needs to follow its customer’s profile always. They must know about the changing needs of customers.
3. Changing procedures
A company must be flexible enough to adjust to altering procedures according to the customer’s requirements.
At times it can be risky to focus on only one customer or a small group of customers. It can be challenging to modify your plan and marketing strategy once a company loses the assurance of holding a distinguished list of customers.
On the concluding note, it is clear that customer intimacy is a highly customer-centric strategy that businesses should use to build a lasting personal relationship with their existing and new customers. It is useful in continually customizing the offerings to ensure customer satisfaction.
Businesses need to take a few key steps to develop a customer intimacy culture in the organization to have a robust product or service to convert more customers, – and those steps are-
- Empowering your team members
- Using customer data and purchase history
- Narrowing your customer focus
- Exploring outside partnerships
The whole process can be quite a resource and time-consuming but it is quite effective in optimizing intimate strategies associated with product adoption as per the needs of the client base.
It helps product leaders to have operational flexibility to respond quickly by offering reliable products as per the needs of the customers to accomplish operational excellence.
Alternatively, check out the Marketing91 Academy, which provides you access to 10+ marketing courses and 100s of Case studies.