“Customer Intimacy”: Designing your level of engagement

The models of “Customer Intimacy”
The “Tailoring”:
It can be summarized as the will to offer your client products and services specifically adapted to his needs. It evolves as follow:

  • Selling the right product at the right time:
    In order for this model to work properly we need to consider the below:
    - The product portfolio should be built based on a precise and adequate study of the market as well as a deep knowledge of the client’s expectations.
    - The customer service should be personalized especially the sales service. Communicating with the client to collect his expectations and needs is key. The client doesn’t always know what he wants using a consultative approach we need to offer him the best solution for his problem.
  • Create tailored solutions:
    This is an opportunity to offer your client a solution that enhances his productivity. At the start nothing is created. Each client with the proper expert guidance will propose the specifications of his product. This way the outcome will be exactly as he wants it without any compromises or constraints.
    In some industries this approach could be considered as expensive in terms of operational cost. The production cannot be standardized. Yet in certain fields it can be very useful. 
  • Eliminate the client’s problem:
    A new level of added value will be created at this level. As the provider tells his client “We will do whatever it takes to eliminate you problems; do not worry we will assume all the responsibilities that bothers you”, trust and intimacy will be created. This is the start of a long term commitment with the client.

The traps of “Tailoring”: It is critical for companies that chose to apply this model to stay self-aware and not get lost in the client's’ needs.  Capacity planning is key to avoid expanding into areas where there is no real profit. The second risk can be mitigated by good portfolio management and avoiding the offering of a huge variety of solutions.

The “Coaching”: 
Besides selling the product or service, this model goes beyond that and offers the client guidance in the post-selling process. In this case the provider becomes the respected tutor for his client. This respect will become the base of a trust based relationship and will lead to loyalty and fidelity.
The three models of “Coaching” are as follow:

  • Show your client the added value of your product:
    What is the real added value of a hyper sophisticated product with more than fifteen distinct functionalities when the client only needs one? Such a product is expensive in terms of development, production and marketing. The client never buys useless functionalities, instead he searches for relevant solutions to his daily problems. He will chose the best available solution with the lowest available price.
  • Help your client optimize his operational processes:
    In this approach we are selling productivity as a product. By observing closely how the operations of the client we will understand more our client and we will be able to answer the below:
    - How does our client use the product?
    - What are the difficulties faced by the client while using the product?
    - What to do to make it easier on our client?
    This will finally lead to a more personalized product that offers the client a higher productivity.
  • Explore opportunities with your client:
    This model is more adapted to a “B to B” context. It is clear that the activities of an enterprise is linked to the activities of its clients. When my client is generating more profit, I will do so as well. Using the information collected from such analysis the provider can propose ways to help his clients to enhance his profitability. It is important to note that this model implies a high of intimacy and confidence between the provider and his client. 

The traps of “Coaching”: They can be summarized in the incompetence of the provider or an unfruitful collaboration with the client. In order to avoid such result the adopter of such discipline should:
- Be up to date and knowledgeable in order to be ready for any client request,
- Recruit the needed human resource to insure the appropriate support for the client,
- Take his time and chose well his clients,
- Understand his client’s problems deeply