Customer Intimacy : The greatest business secret

To achieve sustainable market shares, companies must embrace a competitive strategy. Treacy, M. & Fred Wiersma, F (2017) describe 3 competitive strategies to be used; operational excellencecustomer intimacy and product leadership.

A customer intimate company provides superior value by clearly segmenting its markets and fine tuning its products or services to exactly meet the needs of targeted customers. Such a company focuses on satisfying unique customer needs by establishing close relationship with and intimate knowledge of the customer. Empowering its people to respond quickly to customer needs. Kotler, P., Gary, A., & Margaret H. (2005). 

Today in some business units the customers are mere numbers, in some hospitals patients are called by their bed numbers. Is your customer nothing beyond a telephone number, or customer ID? Do we know our customers by their names? Do we go beyond business relations to know the customer for whom they are and go an extra mile to personalize the transaction?

Many corporations have a KYC (Know your Customer) sheet. To some staff KYC is just part of the procedure to be fulfilled and nothing more. Other give the customer the KYC to fill and never look at it.

Do we really know our customers, do we know their preferences?

Remember that customers have needs. One characteristic of needs is that they are heterogeneous. Two people may request for the same product or the same service but this will be used to satisfy separate needs. The winning sales person is he who goes beyond the product and service to focuses on satisfying the customers’ needs.

One who engages in strong professional relationships with the customers. Staff who are customer intimate are generally better sales persons as they drive more repeat sales and can also advise the customers on the best products.

Customers need to know we can meet their needs. They want to trust you. They want to feel comfortable dealing with you, they want to feel understood, they want to feel important. Building strong customer relationships is the first step to meeting these basic customer needs.

Management teams that only focus on procedures and policies and do not give credit to staff that thrill customers with positive relationships are definitely on the wrong track.

We must learn to build customer intimate businesses, we must learn to become customer intimate staffs and we will be able to move from sales persons to customer opinion leaders. We do not sell products and services; we sell promises of satisfaction. We do not interact with customers, we relate with them.


Treacy, M. & Wiersma, F. (1997). The discipline of market leaders: choose your customers, narrow your focus, dominate your market. Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley.

Kotler, P., Gary, A., & Margaret H. (2005). Principles of marketing. Toronto: Pearson Prentice Hall.

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