• May 17, 2022
  • By Melissa Berger, EVP, connections strategy, and CRM & loyalty lead, Digitas North America

CRM and the Psychology of Relationships

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I was one of very few at my university that didn't know exactly what I wanted to do when I graduated. Most of my friends were on a track for a very specific career or on to the next form of higher education, but I knew there were so many options, and I wanted to explore what was out there. The one thing I was sure of was that I needed to be in a career that was people-centric, where relationships were at the core. I decided to focus my time on psychology, with an emphasis on what that means across more than our personal relationships. I have always been fascinated by how people make decisions—what motivates them, what stops them, and what makes them share that decision. It’s no surprise that I found myself falling into marketing strategy and the world of CRM—and I am still going strong!

Relationships manifest in so many different ways, and when we start to dive into the psychology behind relationships, we can glean a lot of insight for how we view our relationships with brands, not just humans.

Over the years I have found that relationships boil down to one key thing that builds trust, understanding, and ultimately love—doing what you say you are going to do. It really is that simple.

There are countless research studies, points of view, and articles around the topic of relationships. I’ve read a lot of them over the years, and they all say that once you meet a new person, brand, product, company, or manager, trust is built from day one by being transparent and doing what you say you are going to do. The people I love, the brands I love, and the companies I love all have that in common. I am guessing it’s the same for most of you.

But what does this mean for how we help our clients acquire new customers, keep the ones they have, and ultimately increase lifetime value? A few examples:

Acquiring New Customers

First impressions define everything. They’re why you swipe right instead of left, why you click on that ad in your feed, and why you decide to hire or not hire someone. A good acquisition strategy seems complex, but the reality is it starts with insight on your customers. Starting with a customer strategy and not your products or channels is the most important ingredient in your strategy. Use whatever you have to tailor your message, your offer, and where you are targeting them.

Key takeaway:

Doing what you say you are going to do comes into play when you set the right expectations from the first interaction. You establish trust that you can continue to build on by backing it up with your products and experiences that match.

Keeping Your Customers

A coworker recently made a purchase from a national furniture brand. Overall the experience was decent, but when it came time to purchase they were told that they could expect a communication maybe in four to six months and to check spam in case the email goes there. Kudos for being transparent that you won’t send an email for months, and clearly we are all aware of the supply chain issues that the pandemic has caused. Where they epically failed was showing zero confidence in their ability to communicate about a large purchase they just made. There are so many ways to easily solve this and ways to keep the customer updated along the way so that they purchase again in the future. How can they do what they say they are going to do if they don't even know what they are going to do? This is a problem.

Key takeaway:

Even if you don't have all the answers, communicate with your customer. A “non-update” update is fine too.

Increasing Lifetime Value

The majority of brands have a high volume of one-time purchasers because they fail to actually nurture the relationship and follow key rules of two-way communications. “Email is free so we should send them all the time.” “Who cares how many people opt out of our communications, that doesn't really affect our business.” “We know our checkout experience isn’t ideal, but it just isn't a priority.” These are all things we hear too frequently. If you don’t make the customer experience your priority, why should customers make your brand a priority? Listen, respond, and always be testing.

Key takeaway:

Your lifetime value will increase when you put your customer at the heart of your strategy and your business. They will see from the start that you build trust and do what you say you’re going to do.

Marketing strategy can get extremely complex, but at the core, it all really boils down to showing up and building trust, just like you would for any other relationship in your life. Be the brand you said you were on your first date…even if it’s your 50th!

Melissa Berger is executive vice president, connections strategy, and CRM and loyalty lead at Digitas North America. 

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