Are you taking the steps needed after a B2C breakup to keep the relationship alive?
You’ll hear a lot of organizations talk about “relationship marketing” or building “customer loyalty” and the importance of trying to maintain a connection with their customers. There is certainly a lot of messaging, slogans and words on the value put on this, but how it shows up in action from organizations is what matters.
Saying you want a relationship with your customers, but knowing what it takes to build and keep one is another matter. It’s not much different than any relationship we start, build, maintain, and possibly end, with our friends and romantic partners. It’s emotional. It takes a lot of effort. And it’s as much about them as it is about you.
The Relationship Breakdown
- Courtship – you hear about someone that sounds like they would be a good fit for you and what you’re looking for in life. You reach out to learn a bit more about them, either through mutual friends, Googling or reading their online profile (yes, online dating is that common now) and then make the decision to go out or not.
- Dating – you connect with them, seeing how they interact with you and those around them. You look for “red flags” (qualities and life choices that don’t mix with your values) while being curious about long-term potential. Is this someone you want to spend more time with?
- Early Relationship – you try them out aka “the honeymoon phase”. Are you a good fit? How do they support you and how do they let you down? Can you trust them? Do they show up when you need them? Could they be “your person”? It’s the when you’re not overly committed and could be swayed by another, better option.
- Ongoing Relationship – you’ve made your choice. Whether for the short- or long-term, this is the person you’re going to invest your time with.
- The Breakup…
It’s the “Breakup” that offers a lot of missed opportunity.
When the relationship, for whatever reason, didn’t work out and you decide to go out with someone new or stay unattached, where do you stand with the initial person? Does the old relationship keep in contact? Are they still top of mind if you did want to get back into the a relationship? Are you still on good terms? Any company looking to actually build a relationship with its customers has to consider it from their perspective.
A relationship is a relationship is a relationship. We can’t pretend that the expectations we have as customers are any different once we are coming at it from the organizational side.
B2C Breakup Case Study
I had a really good reminder of this when I joined and left a personal training facility. Really great gym, people were fantastic and I really did see results, but the personal connection was more about talk than follow through. They missed out on some big opportunities for me to even consider coming back. And it’s all connect to that word: “personal”.
Everything was going grand. For the courtship phase, it all lined up. I reviewed their website, talked to a friend who worked there, looked at my personal exercise goals, reviewed my finances and decided they were worth “dating”. The first couple of sessions took some getting used to. Attacking the early mornings, getting to know the trainer personalities, pushing myself out of my comfort zone, gauging the level of physical impact on my body… it was a good couple of dates. It went so well, we entered into a relationship. This new phase allowed me to connect at a deeper level with some of the trainers, conversations become more personal and earned as they got to know me and I got to know them. More time was spent. Routines were made. The trainers and I even “friended” on social media platforms to further the connection. I felt like I was building relationships that furthered my health goals and added some value.
But then it ended.
For reasons mostly attached to finances, I chose to end my membership and rethink my next steps for maintaining my healthier choices. I went to the local YMCA. I ran and walked a bit more in my every day routines. I always had in the back of my mind that I might want to do training again but for money reasons, I just couldn’t right now.
But that’s also when this facility demonstrated to me that they didn’t want my return to even be in the running. When I ended the membership, they ended the relationship. No more outreach and or any connection with me. No comments on Instagram or Facebook posts. No anything. Once my money stopped flowing so it seemed did their interest in me. All those personal interactions and efforts of “friendship” I had had, now rang hollow.
If a business wants to talk about customer loyalty and customer relationships, about retention and “personal touches”, they need to think beyond the transactional. This is about emotions. If you stop talking to your customers because they stop giving you money, then you’re showing me that’s all I’m worth to you. And that’s not how relationships are formed.
Now, as I look to possibly return to a training facility, I’m looking at who else is out there to build a relationship with.
How to Bring B2C Back
Looking back to what I would have liked to have seen from this company to either entice me to come back or recommend them to others, here are three things they could have done to keep the relationship going:
- Conduct an exit interview – As a customer notifies you that they’ll be ending their membership, take the time to ask them questions about their time with you and how you can keep in touch. These questions not only help to improve your service or product, but also provide ingredients on how they would suggest to maintain the relationship. This reinforces leaving on good terms or helping to mend bad ones.
- Engage socially – One of the most effective ways of maintaining connection is through social media channels. If your organization really is about relationships, why not LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE what your customers are passionate about and connects to your business? In this instance, trainers who had “friended” me on social, could encourage my healthy choices, support the pride I’m displaying or cheerleading me through my struggles. That’s a friend I may want to see again.
- Maintain a CRM tool — keep track of and maintain those relationships with a program integrated into your marketing, PR and customer service departments (even if it’s all one person). Note milestones, personal events, past history with the company, all in an effort to keep that relationship going. Using the gym as an example, an anniversary card on the date that I joined their gym with a message saying, “Today marks a milestone of when you chose to make your health a priority. We hope you’re still crushing it. All the best, GYM.” If it’s not salesy and sent with compassion, how could I not think of them when considering my next C2B relationship.
What can a company do for you to keep you interested in returning to them as a customer?