It’s been exciting to see the change that takes place as we move from counting subscriptions or building memberships to having a meaningful relationship with those who use our products.

A few years ago, the goal was to move from a subscription model to a membership model. Being one of the first to craft this vision, our team was asked to present this concept at dozens of conferences.

We spoke to many of our peers and shared the concept, and we heard great stories about how others were planning to create clubs and exclusive membership offerings. At the centre of all this was an attempt to change the publisher’s relationship with his customers.

As we look back, this was just the beginning of a deepening of what has proven to be at the centre of what most consumers really care about. People want to be recognised and known and feel like they are valued by the company. They want to know that you understand them as individuals with individual needs.

The individuals using your products want you to know their names and know that you understand their needs, and that you actually care about their specific desires.

In today’s world, where we have multiple products on multiple platforms, we often start off with what could be described as an “anonymous” relationship. The mission for everyone is to move from anonymous to “in a relationship” with your customers.

This is where the doors to the future open up with a customer. The right approach linked to a very specific set of targeted actions can lead to a very healthy and lasting relationship with the consumers who live and do business in your market.

Let’s start the relationship building with the customers on your books today.

Building this relationship can be very simple. Many times the wow factor can happen with the next call or contact. Most consumers will tell you companies no longer provide excellent customer service. They have horrible stories about when they last called the cable company or an airline, been placed on hold, or tried to navigate through a series of voice prompts only to end up feeling very frustrated.

Providing outstanding customer service and developing a relationship with the customer sets your business up to be the one place he can trust, the one place he can call and have a wonderful experience.

Calling a customer by his name really matters. Knowing what he told you the last time he called shows that you care and you listen. Thanking a customer for a payment, an e-mail address, or other piece of information all leads to a deeper connection. This deeper connection leads to a lasting relationship. 

Here is the secret sauce: Almost all companies will say they have good or even great customer service. Do yourself a favour. Check that statement this week by listening to live interactions with your customers. Ask yourself at the end of each call you listen if this is that someone with whom you have a deep lasting relationship.

Using what you learn here to forge and improve your relationship with the customer will only brighten your future! Learn to ask for additional information on each call. You might target or promote a product you have that meets the noted needs of the consumer.

The key is that, when you close the call, you have a much deeper relationship with the customer than you did before the interaction.

It doesn’t stop here. Yes, you can also have relationships with customers who use your product(s) but are not paying you for a subscription or membership.

Consumers wind up on our Web site(s) daily. More often today, consumers may come to you through a referral or inbound link. When they arrive, most likely they do not know exactly what site they will arrive at. All they know is that “someone has what I need.” And, yes, here they are using your product.

Before the next consumer arrives at your doorstep, it’s time for another relationship “check-up.” When he arrives, how will you serve him? Will you acknowledge your new visitor? Will you log his visit? Will you gather information that allows you to better serve this consumer today and in the future? And, last but not least, will the customer feel like he had a great experience?

The key point here is that today’s consumer is often on a journey looking for something. You need to be in a position to be the one who serves the consumer’s needs, and the one the consumer sees as the company with which to have a relationship.

Consumers want to have experiences and relationships that are healthy and user-friendly, and that can and will serve their needs.

There are many articles written today on tools and the use of technology. These are exciting times when it comes to having the tools to better position your team for success.

But remember, people have relationships with people, and if you want to have more than a subscription or membership with your customers, target actions that will build relationships with those you serve.