Customer Experience

What’s the deal with customer intimacy?

Written by Brett Stephenson
Nov 8

In this competitive market, your brand needs to stand out. Retailers have two choices when it comes to their value proposition: cost or customer intimacy. Many businesses aren’t aware, however, there’s a difference between customer intimacy and customer focus, which means very few brands have a proper handle on an effective customer intimacy strategy.

Unlike a focus on customer service or experience, pivoting to a strategy that’s built around the end goal of customer intimacy requires a shift within your entire organisation. While this may sound like just another flash in the pan 'retail trend' and more effort than it’s worth, the thinking behind the customer intimacy business model makes sense for today’s businesses – and customers.

Customer intimacy is fundamentally different to customer focus.

Organisational design and business transformation consultancy On the Mark points out that customer focus isn’t a positioning strategy, but instead “…merely an ‘entry ticket’, just like product quality and efficient operations – at best, it can give a temporary advantage if no one else does it, but it’s easy for competitors to catch up quickly.”

On the other hand, customer intimacy is all-encompassing and affects every area of the business. Customer focus is about building strong relationships with your customers, whereas customer intimate companies “Build deep, multi-level relationships to drive insight.” One of the biggest differences between the two is that customer intimacy “Uses every point of interaction to systematically gather, analyse and generate insight”, compared to the customer-focus model that seeks to merely understand the needs of customers and the business’s direct competitors.

This statistic from a Harvard Business Review article argues the case for a customer intimacy strategy: “Fully engaged customers…deliver a 23% premium over the average customer in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth.” Even more telling is that customers who rated their experience as ‘satisfied’ or even ‘fully satisfied’, astoundingly “…behave no differently than dissatisfied customers in terms of loyalty, profitability and growth.” Customer intimacy is a big deal.

A customer intimacy strategy requires in-depth insight and a streamlined and consistent customer experience at every point of interaction.

Customer intimacy is all about anticipating what customers want from your brand, then exceeding expectations throughout the buyer's journey. This of course, relies on data that’s collected from every single interaction someone has with your brand. Because customer intimacy is granular, it requires a shift in thinking that you can – and will – keep every single one of your myriad types of customers happy.

The On The Mark article also points out: “Intimacy requires higher levels of investment in understanding those customers, creating insight and innovating solutions, so organisations need to be sure their targets have the wherewithal to pay for this.” In addition, when segmenting this group of customers, you’ll need to decide how your value proposition is best aligned to their specific needs, wants and behaviours.

In order to deploy an effective customer intimacy strategy, you’ll need to equip yourself with data-driven tools.

Because the efficacy of your customer intimacy strategy relies on the data you have on hand, the right kind of tools are vital. So too, is using these tools to gather information about your customers at every single brand touchpoint. But collecting this data is only useful if you’re analysing and then synthesising this information throughout your operation and the way you’re responding to (and serving) your customers. If you can get this right, you'll reap the rewards of increased customer lifetime value, market share and – the holy grail of business – increased ROI.

Get started on your customer intimacy strategy and invest in Blix Traffic, the smart way to gather crucial data about how your customers behave in-store. Find out more about our foot traffic software.

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