What is your customer relationship purpose?

What is your Customer Relationship Purpose? B2B Trust Series Part 1

What is your Customer Relationship Purpose? How many of us have actually taken the time to ask ourselves this question and then tried to answer it? And having thought it through, have you tried to really answer it?

This is a really core question for anyone involved in managing customer relationships, whatever side of the fence you are sitting, be it buyer and/or supplier.

The stock answer we would usually get would be: “don’t be stupid, it’s to make money”.

However, our evidence shows a clear purpose (intention) towards the relationship is fundamental in starting the journey to its development and /or improvement. This can be further enhanced if predicated on mutual value being demonstrated through the opportunity your relationship purpose offers.

“When I wrote this, I initially considered adding some examples, to add value and bring it to life. However, I held off as this is quite straightforward and wanted to get you to think of your own examples as your read it – that’s the value add and relevance”.

When considering your customer relationship performance, we explore three scenarios;

  1. All about you! How much can I make?

If this is your customer relationship purpose, then it is likely to keep you firmly in the transactional and adversarial position. In principle there is nothing wrong with this, if your purpose is clear. However, developing the relationship will be difficult unless you change the ‘I’ to a ‘we’, and a level of mutuality develops. At this transactional level, you are most likely to be product selling and if it meets the buyer’s need in terms of price and quality then great. It is likely to carry on at this level, unless something changes with the price, quality and/or buyer’s needs.

  1. All about them

This could restrict the development of the relationship. If you are continually enhancing your service/offer, you are loading value into the relationship you can’t realise and over time it will feel out of balance. Being customer centric doesn’t mean losing grip in commercial reality. However, it does mean having a sense and understanding of the potential available, before trying to turn your purpose into a reality.

  1. Actually, it’s about us!

With a relationship is worth actualising, then the purpose focuses on the mutual value it has the potential to realise. I think it is worth remembering at this point, that in this context, value is much more than merely £$. The focus is then on the co-creation and joint working of both sides to turn the purpose into reality and feel the benefit from the effect.

Key take-aways:

  • Take a moment to reflect on why you are doing what you are doing with this particular customer and/or supplier.
  • Do you have a clear purpose that’s based on the relationship potential?
  • Are you clear what the relationship potential looks like?
  • Make sure your purpose and intentions reflect the relationship you would like to have and its potential to deliver for both sides.


Read more articles on B2B Trust by Dr Mark Hollyoake here


Dr Mark Hollyoake