The Customer Karma® book is at the final phases of its production.  The cover design is done. Now it is left to the publishers to do their share to make the book look good so that I can get the book in your hands. As I look back and relive every moment I spent writing this book, I have to admit that it was one of the best times in my professional life. I wrote the book as me, without trying to be anyone else.  You will find “no non-sense” business sense, and my signature attempts at being funny.  But the thing I am most proud of is the thread that goes through the entire book, about the similarity of human relationships with our relationships with customers.  Having this thread throughout the book helped me look at actions brands take in the name of “investing in customer relationships”, from a totally different perspective. There were some actions that one would never ever consider in everyday relationship but it is OK for brands to do it in their relationship with customers.  That simply did not make sense.

Here is an excerpt from the book on my customer relationships and normal human relationships are so similar.

As brands strive to build a strong connection with its customers, it must remember that relationships have phases. A deeper understanding of the phases will shed more light on how business relationships evolve.

Understanding why we get into relationships and how relationships evolve is important in order for brands to realize why a customer will choose to build a long-term relationship with them. A journey must start with self-discovery. Before jumping into the dating world and seeking a relationship, it is always important to have a clear idea of who one is and what one is seeking.

Here Are the Four Relationship Phases of a Date

  1. First Impression: Within seconds of the start of a date, one forms a first impression that sets the tone for the rest of the date. Doesn’t the same thing happen within minutes of entering a new store that one is visiting for the first time? The first impression is important in building a relationship.
  2. Making It Easy to Explore: This is the early part of the date. During this phase, both individuals are cautious and simply want to explore. The same thing happens with a first visit to a store, as the customer in this phase wants to walk around and let the surroundings soak in.
  3. Seeking Confirmation: As the date progresses, both persons become aware of a reality. The reality is that at the end of the date, each has to decide if there is going to be a second date. Hence, they start becoming a little more proactive in getting information they need for this decision.
  4. The Grand Finale: Decision Time: At the end of the date, each person makes a decision about the future of the connection. A customer goes through exactly the same emotions during the first visit to the store.

As we go through the phases of customer karma, it is important to know that the focus should not be only on doing good karma always; how and when you do good karma also matter. Good karma should be done in a spontaneous, natural way without the other person feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

As you reflect on the similarities between both, let me ask you a question.  Think it is the birthday of one of your best friends or the person you started to date.  You want to do something nice on his/her birthday. Would you ever consider giving him/her a coupon for “½ off dinner” at a restaurant” or “$5 off if you spend $25 or more” at a retail store?  Probably not.  If you are a little tight on cash flow you can still give him/her a $5 gift card with a nice card.  That will be a good reflection of your feelings. The recipient can use the $5 gift card however he/she wants, as there are no conditions to its use.  The “½ off dinner” at a restaurant” or the “$5 off if you spend $25 or more” at a retail store both require the person to spend money to use the offer.  That is simply not a nice gesture.  Instead why doesn’t the brand simply offer a $5 gift card at the restaurant or the retail outlet, where the recipient can use it however he/she wants.  That makes it a true gift instead of it being “how can I trick you, on your birthday, to spend money at my store?”