Emphasising the “Relationship” in Customer Relationship Management

The science behind managing the relationship with the customer in the digital world should be no different from the psychology underpinning interpersonal behavior. Here’s why I believe this to be true…

Psychologists have researched and narrowed down a range of factors that explain the science behind who we view as an attractive partner, to:

So what is your website or email design (unconsciously) saying about you?

  • Are you/your product coming across as useful? Or fun?
  • What kind of customer is your website attracting? A body-builder, or a ballet dancer?
  • How do its proportions, colour, layouts, fonts and images attract the eye? Are they portraying you as a brand with empathy and kindness? Or perhaps one with energy and power?

We know that a range of insight and study goes into product design and marketing. Yet, how many of us pay attention to what goes into our brand’s online “appearance”? For the most part, website design and retention marketing campaigns have been left to people who know about marketing, websites and HTML, while many senior executives are focused on the ROI of these elements.

And while that’s the traditionally accepted way of doing things, it could be likened (using the present analogy) to attracting a partner by asking your hairdresser for a flashy new hairstyle, while you spend your time not socialising, but checking your email to see who’s noticed it. So why is that kind of uninvolved distance normal when we want to attract a customer?

Here’s the bottom line: Whether you’re using social media, like Facebook or Twitter, or designing a website, the customer you’re trying to attract is first going to be hooked in by what your business looks like. Then they’ll decide how much your product or values resonate with theirs, and finally, whether you are able to be in the same space they are in – or at least nearby.

It’s not just psychology, it’s logic. How many of us have dated someone attractive, only to have distance break us apart? Or find that the initially attractive partner really just did not share our values and ideals?

Let’s apply this analogy to our customer relationships, and how our customers experience our services and products.

Whether you’re designing a website, facebook page, email or product, the formation of a meaningful relationship to both parties depends on how much your brand resonates with your potential customer. We can liken attraction to design, similarity to content strategy and proximity to channels like Mobile, Web, eCRM and eTailing.

Appearance and Customer Relationships

Let’s start by addressing Appearance in this blog post, with some basic assertions around things we know and take for granted… Like the fact that we do (like it or not) place value on physical characteristics. A quick glance at any women’s magazine will tell you that curvaceous body shapes, and luxurious hair are characteristics frequently seen as attractive in women. When we look at male-targeted advertising and literature, it’s a slightly different story, with characteristics like height, muscularity and a firm jaw line.

And for those looking for a long-term relationship, elements like humour and empathy within an individual’s personality are also important.

So how do we perceive these in day to day life? Sight, sound and smell. These are the same senses we use to engage with when we go online. (Except the “smell” bit, but that’s for another blog post perhaps).

And, as with interpersonal attraction, these processes run unconsciously, looking for resonant psychological character traits (e.g. dominance).


Do you portray a personality in your website design?

Remember that the Appearance you want to portray, should be both truly and authentically you, as well as attractive to the right customer.

What matters to you when considering your customer relationship? Check our Customer Experience blog post in the next few weeks for Part 2 of Harnessing Digital to Manage Customer Relationships – looking at Similarity in Customer relationships.