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Customer experience and the core elements of love

  • Posted on February 25, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
customer experience

I recently ran across an article discussing psychologist Robert Strernberg’s triangular theory of love and its three core elements of passion, intimacy and commitment. Robert Strernberg is a distinguished American psychologist and Professor of Human Development at Cornell University. While Strernberg’s theory relates to romantic love, it struck me that these same elements form the basis of B2B relationships and drive the work we do as customer experience (CX) professionals. As one anonymous CX survey respondent put it, “Treat any organization as you would treat a person you love and all will be good.”

Let’s look at the triangular theory of love through a CX lens.

Element #1 - Passion
Passion creates purpose and is the driving force behind exceptional customer experience. It is fueled by an unrelenting focus on customer feedback – what is going well and what needs to be done better. It motivates the organization’s CX culture and subsequently drives the improvements needed to better serve customers.

Creating CX passion in B2B:

  • Build understanding amongst employees about why CX is important. What is the burning platform for great CX in your organization?
  • Create a culture of transparency. All feedback is good feedback and this is how we act on it – when people understand the process and see action, they stay engaged.
  • Paint the vision for great CX that builds passion for the “art of the possible.”

Element #2 – Intimacy
Intimacy is described as feelings of closeness and attachment to one another. Like any relationship, business relationships are built on trust, understanding and require ongoing nurturing. Achieving a high level of intimacy with customers takes effort and intent.

As recent Accenture research points out, CX masters are expanding their focus to hyper-relevant experiences that dynamically adapt to the evolving contexts of their business customers. They are doing so by building such a keen understanding of their customers’ fast-changing needs and preferences that they are able to continually and proactively deliver solutions, services and experiences that business customers value.

Creating CX intimacy in B2B:

  • Demonstrate deep industry expertise and knowledge of your customer’s business environment.
  • Reduce perceived risk by driving confidence. Not only does this pertain to making customers feel confident that your organization can help them achieve their outcomes – for many it’s about reducing perceived job risk.
  • Organize around customer needs versus your own – that includes talent models, business processes, products and service offerings, etc.

Element #3 – Commitment
Commitment involves a conscious decision to stick with one another. In today’s highly competitive environment, what drives customers to stay loyal? A Pennsylvania University study of customer-supplier relationships found that “trust and value are powerful predictors of commitment.” It goes on to “…theorize that relationships are driven by the need to create value. Trust is the doorway to successful relationships while value creation is the glue that leads to commitment.”

Creating CX commitment in B2B:

  • Make continuous investments of thought leadership, co-creation and joint innovation in the relationship.
  • Approach problems with creative solutioning and transform them into opportunities.
  • Practice futurecasting – strategic, big picture thinking.

How do the core elements of love – passion, intimacy and commitment – fit into your customer experience strategy? I invite you to drop a comment below and share your perspective.

Read more about ideas, strategies and approaches on customer experience (CX).

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