This is the final instalment of our three-part series on developing customer relationships online. Previous posts are on Appearance and Similarity. In this post, we look at the aspect of Proximity.

Proximity – Social Media, Mobile, eCommerce, eTailing and eCRM

To conclude our view on the development of customer relationships in the digital world as analogous to the development of interpersonal relationships, we look at the element of Proximity or geographical closeness.

 Proximity:   (/prɒkˈsɪmɪti/) [prok-sim-i-tee] noun

Meaning nearness in place, time, order, occurrence, or relation.

Proximity is a basic requirement when forming relationships in the real world. To use an example, you may find a celebrity very attractive but if you don’t get the opportunity to meet them or speak to them your chances of forming a relationship are nil.  People are more likely to form friendships with those in the same dorm or the same class at university when they work in close proximity.


Not only does proximity mean we have more opportunities to interact with each other, but subsequent frequency of interaction means that we become more familiar with each other, and studies have shown that we prefer those who are familiar to us, over strangers. We feel more at ease and secure with people we know, and we perpetuate that feeling of security by continued interaction with these familiar and trusted people.

Proximity and customer relationships

Marketing professionals have a number of channels and tools that allow them to develop proximity to customers with whom they would normally not be having a conversation.

eTailing and eCommerce allows owners of products to sell these products to a new (or repeat) customer within the comfort of their own home. This kind of proximity offered by digital tools is a precious commodity – the ability to interact with your customer in their own space (whether home or office) on their terms and provide them with what they need when they ask for it. That sort of proximity allows for the start of the formulation of a good relationship, and doesn’t have to be a one-off.

In my opinion, it’s not all about online. With more and more people multi-tasking on their smartphones, a mobile presence is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s essential. Even a useful and relevant mobile app that adds value to their day-to-day existence would be a good means of keeping in touch with your customer. Although with Mobile it also takes a carefully-wrought strategy to convert your customer from “Nice to meet you” to “You know, you’re actually great to hang out with. Why don’t you come over sometime”?

Getting Social

Social media in its turn is the equivalent of bumping into each other at the right time and the right place. But the development of customer relationships via this channel is not a random or accidental occurence. Again, if you think about Proximity, your brand’s opportunity is not so much to start a conversation (and force your company on a customer), so much as it is to join an existing conversation in that customer’s Proximity and add value to their day. Of course this kind of interaction doesn’t happen completely by accident. Getting your brand onto Social Media (like Twitter) is akin to joining the party, but you can’t just stand on a chair and talk to the room – you have to listen out for the conversation you want to join, if you’re going to make a success of it..

Cementing good relationships with your customers digitally can be simple if you keep in my the 3 principles I have talked about this series of blogs

  1. Appearance
  2. Similarity
  3. Proximity

If you follow these three simple principles, you could be your customer’s next Prince(ss) Charming.



Have you enjoyed this series of blogs? What are your thoughts on customer experience and relationships synergy? Very interested to hear your thoughts in the comments below.