Posted by: cochinblogger | September 2, 2010

Delighting the Customer with the Customer Intimacy Tool

I recently came across a term in corporate training material that made me wince: The Customer Intimacy Tool. I had visions of customers running for dear life from salepersons in hot pursuit brandishing the Customer Intimacy Tool.

Of course, the picture I painted above is a gross exaggeration (literary license, literary license!): The Customer Intimacy Tool is an in-house tool whose noble aim is to help familiarize the salesperson with the customer. So why not call it the plain and simple Customer Familiarization Tool? Because the Customer Intimacy Tool could be the Next Big Idea in marketing. Familiarization is old hat. Intimacy is hot — or could become hot, even red-hot with luck. The discipline of marketing floats on bubbles like these.

Another example is the usurpation of customer satisfaction by customer delight; the aim today is not to satisfy the customer but to delight him. This sounds so patently false and insincere that it grates on my ears; I’ll take good old honest satisfaction any day.

I Googled “Customer Intimacy Tool” and came up with about 300 hits, suggesting that the rot has not yet set in. However, I spotted a couple of well-known sites among the hits, so perhaps what I’m seeing is the birth pangs of the monster, which I imagine when birthed would look something like this.

I will stick my neck out and predict two further developments, two further Big Ideas that will take the marketing world by tsunami within the decade. The first Big Idea, Customer Exhilaration, represents a natural evolution from Customer Satisfaction and Customer Delight. How wonderful it would be to exhilarate the customer and not just delight him! The second Big Idea, the Customer Empathy Tool, will make both the Customer Familiarity Tool and the Customer Intimacy Tool obsolete; it is clearly the next evolutionary step in getting to know the customer better. Familiarity, Intimacy, Empathy … what a neat and logical progression!

However, if I were a customer and a salesperson offered to delight me with the Customer Intimacy Tool, I know I would either take to my heels or ring the bell summoning security.

I’m told by those who’ve had the experience that it’s a delightful feeling to be probed with the Customer Intimacy Tool, but there are lines of pleasure even this confirmed hedonist will not cross. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  1. Good one!

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