Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Do your customers WANT a conversation?

In the frenzy of relationship marketing, customer development, dialogic communications, and corporate-consumer conversation zones, are we sure our customers really want this?

How do you *know* that your customers want to engage in mutual interaction? Some industries are not set up that way. If you've ever worked in retail, you know some customers don't want to be disturbed. They don't want any help, they're not looking for assistance, they don't feel like talking. But still, they may be shopping and buying.

"What if the customer never wished to be in a 'relationship' with the organization in the first place? Just because an organization has decided to change to a relationship marketing strategy, this does not mean that customers will also make the shift to the same extent, if at all.

Customers may actually desire a one-way marketing relationship in which they do not have to expend any effort in building and maintaining the relationship, believing that it is up to the supplying organization if it wants to retain their custom....A company may then find itself in the uneconomic position of having to run with both transactional and relationship-building policies for different customer groups."

--Lisa Harris and Charles Dennis,
Marketing the e-Business
(Routledge, 2002), p. 165.

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