The 5 Distinct Customer Relationship Strategies

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relying on a collaborative tactic that led to Customer Helix happily increasing its spending, resulting in a better relationship with and positive feelings about GoDaddy for Frankland and his company.

Customer Experience–Focused

Companies that fall under the customer experience–focused umbrella aim to better understand their customers, and design enjoyable experiences that will satisfy them. The top goal of such companies is to make their product(s) easy and fun to use. "Many vendors think the customer's moment of truth is low price," Pombriant says. "Everybody promises low prices. But implied in the product offer is that the company will always take care of the customer...so the next thing to be aware of is engineering products to be intuitive, easy to use, and bulletproof."

In contrast to the customer engagement–focused approach (Strategy 4), under an experience-focused approach, the customers would likely be grouped according to type, rather than as individuals. Frankland points to Macy's as an example of a company that has done particularly well at employing this strategy in recent years. In its promotional efforts, the company targets several key personas, placing each customer into one of several categories, with each of the categories representing distinct values and demographics. The company uses the information gathered from customers' previous interactions with Macy's through various channels to categorize customers according to their perceived preferences (whether that be luxury shopping, sales shopping, holiday shopping, or another form).

Some companies have not been as successful on the experience end. Frankland notes that while JetBlue began as an airline flyers turned to for its distinct experience, the company has lost some of its spark. "JetBlue went through some growing pains and became just another airline.... [It] lost some of that emphasis on customer experience. When you go back years ago, even when they had some hiccups, they dealt with them phenomenally well. They had an extremely public experience of leaving people stranded on a tarmac with no water, and they did a whole customer manifesto, among other things. But I think that now they've been outflanked by Virgin Airlines, [which has] upgraded the enjoyability index of flying, where JetBlue hasn't," Frankland says.

It's worth mentioning that the largest percentage surveyed by Frankland wished to be in this group (28 percent). It can be tempting, if the assumption you're making is that more enjoyable experiences will allow you to keep your customers for the longest period of time. But analysts recommend that this approach be employed in a way that also feels true to the brand history. For instance, a company's store, under this strategy, would ideally be in alignment with the values presented through its Web site. And one thing companies should take into consideration is their brands. "Companies that don't understand their brand are dying," Wang says."Look at Sears, look at JCPenney—they don't know [what] their brand is," and their struggles are no secret.

Customer Engagement–Focused

Customer engagement–focused companies aim to provide highly personalized interactions that speak directly to customers in a way that feels relevant to them. In contrast with the customer experience–focused approach, the customer engagement–focused strategy is directed at the individual, rather than a type of individual.

"[This strategy] is much more concerned with delivering value to the consumer than taking from them," Frankland says. One way a 

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