Ask yourself this question: Did our relationship improve?

Try this over the next few days…

Each time you interact with a customer, whether it is on the phone, in-person or through an email exchange, ask yourself this question: Is our relationship better at the end of this interaction than it was at the beginning?

What do you think you will find? Are you improving your relationships with customers most of the times you interact with them? Or, are many of your interactions transactional, not enriching your relationship?

We all know what this feels like; we interact with a customer and, after meeting, we can tell that our relationship has improved. We also know what the opposite feels like, when your relationship actually takes a step backwards during an interaction.

Relationships with customers don’t pop into existence spontaneously. They are built one interaction at a time. If you want to build a relationship with a customer, it is important to move your relationship forward – sometimes by inches, sometimes by miles – each time you interact.

Here’s how I classify these kinds of interactions with customers: An interaction with a customer in which your relationship improves is called an “encounter.” An interaction with a customer in which your relationship doesn’t improve, or actually degrades, is called a “transaction.”

To build a relationship with a customer, you need to string together a series of encounters over time. These encounters are the building blocks of your relationship.

Stay tuned on this blog for more information about creating encounters. Additionally, you can have a look at my free ebook, Encounters: The Building Blocks of We Relationships, which you will receive for subscribing to this blog, or see chapter 2 in We: The Ideal Customer Relationship. (If you don’t want to subscribe to the blog or buy the book, send me an note and I will email you a copy of Chapter 2. I’m happy to do it as long as you it helps you create encounters with your customers.)

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Posted in "We" Relationships
15 comments on “Ask yourself this question: Did our relationship improve?
  1. Michael says:

    Excellent advice. I have some people I am working with right now who I will use this with. They don’t see why sending out 450 emails per day to the same people is costing them business instead of building relationships. How do you build a relationship between a speaker in an auditorium and an individual member of the audience. You can’t. Thanks fro the eBook too!

    • Michael … we’re recognizing that the more people you talk to at one time, the less effective communication is with any one person. I think this is a general, hard and fast principle.

  2. I can already see how constantly making the call between encounter/transaction can make a difference. Just the awareness factor changes the way you interact with customers.

    Subscribing now – thanks for the tip & the eBook.


  3. Dave – good observation. I found that having the awareness of creating relationship-building encounters, and avoiding transactions, helped me immensely. Once I was aware, doing the right things was much easier. I’ll post more on what those things are – and they are highlighted in the ebook.

  4. omer rosen says:

    Hi Steve,
    I read some of your post at Tom Peter’s blog and was delighted to see at remarkablogger that you started a blog of your own.
    I wish you the best of luck.

    Omer Rosen

    • Omer –

      Thank you. I am actually in Jerusalem now, writing at my favorite coffee shop, Tmol Shilshom, where big chunks of my last book were written. A little chilly, but nice weather we’re having! Listening to Moah Ben Ari’s new Live CD.

      • omer rosen says:

        It’s a small world after all…
        What are you doing in Israel?
        If you want a warmer weather come to Tel Aviv. Jerusalem indeed is a cold place in the winter.

        You meant Miri Ben Ari, the violin player?

  5. David says:

    Hmmm. I really should be thinking more of my wife as a customer. And we should be having more encounters and fewer transactions (this is not meant to be lewd).

    • David – I couldn’t agree more. In fact, we should look at our best personal relationships as models for our business relationships. This is not to say that we should be friends with all of our customers, but that personal relationships are the better ideal against which to compare, as opposed to advertising. Advertising is the most unnatural form of human communication imaginable. It doesn’t reflect real life at all.

  6. Refreshing, to hear someone else who gets it. I have been telling people to pay attention to the customer experience for years. In the last 5 years I have been helping customers to “blueprint the customer experience”.

    BTW, your Products page returned a “not found error”. How can get your book?

  7. It’s good to hear that something that I have been doing is right. In most encounters with customers or clients of my customers I do try to do something which improves the relationship, although I haven’t analysed it before. In most cases it works, and even if it only brightens mine or somebody else’s day, then it is worthwhile.

    Thankyou for making me feel more positive.

    • Richard – If you have a chance to dig into the free ebook on Encounters (or Chapter 2 in “We”), I’d love to hear your thoughts on this idea of improving your relationship, one encounter at a time. Good luck!

  8. Steve, not sure why I had the issue but I found the page and bought your book. I emailed you a screen capture of the error and URL that I had the issue with.

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