• Michael Weeding

Customer Charters in the Relationship Era, 5 amendments that an organisation will never adopt.


The world is changing, we hear regularly that it is the end of business as we know it as we move into the new world and with this change brands must adapt or die. The new world has many names with the Relationship Era being one describing how brands must build long term sustainable relationships with their customers or prospective customers and move away from the reliance on traditional advertising. Nike are an example of an organisation who has taken this approach, the Nike+ community as one example has millions of engaged consumers and they develop a connection with their customers through this network.

A relationship is defined as a connection between a person or a group of people, if you look beyond the definition you find the qualities that help build a good relationship are respect, trust, honesty, companionship, love and empathy. There is no doubt that a brand would not want to develop a connection with their customers built around these qualities but in reality calling the engagement a consumer has with a brand a relationship tends to imply there is a deeper emotional connection when in reality all customers want is a great experience. What we would like to call our relationship with our customers for them may simply be their experience with our brand, the better the experience the more emotionally connected they feel. Many people around the world advocate for Apple even though they spend no time or effort in fostering a relationship. If you Tweet an issue about an Apple product and service no one from the organisation will be waiting to respond. The connection people have with Apple has been created by experience with their products and services alone.

If we accept that a deeper emotional connection does exist and brands are in fact building relationships over and above delivering amazing experiences then it is about time that they start to talk to their customers like we would to our friends, after all who want a relationship with anyone that only sees things only from their point of view. If this is the case then I believe it is time to rewrite Customer Charters that reflects this approach and I have created some points that any organisation is welcome to adopt:

1. We will change, this is because we will try to make things better, or it could be that the world is changing around us. Please try to change with us.

2. Some of the things we do or say will annoy you, you may not like the way we are changing or things may break. If things are broken we will fix it. But what you think is broken may for us be a necessary change and as a result we may not want to fix it, we think this is the best way forward, please refer to point 1 above.

3. The government forces is to do some pretty stupid things, the things that they require us to do is in meant to be good for you. As an organisation we cannot vote, if you voted for the current government please do not complain. If you did not vote for them then you understand our frustration. Accept that we must make this change otherwise take this issue to your Member of Parliament not to our Customer Service department.

4. We accept the fact that no one who works for this organisation is as intelligent as you and we know that you could do a better job. All employees will aspire to be just like you, until they get there please accept the solutions they deliver. We are always happy for you to share your point of view, we at times will find it a source of entertainment inspiration.

5. We will accept that you may talk negatively about us within social media when you are not happy, when you do we will listen and we will respond (please note in our response we may reference point 1 again). But why not share your good experiences as well, if all you do is complain about your friends on Facebook then you will become a very lonely person.

Somehow I do not think any organisations will adopt these points into their Customer Charters, until then organisations need to continue to work on delivering amazing experiences to their customers as in essence this will be the driver of deeper emotional connections with their brands.

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