Customers as strangers, acquaintances, friends and partners21st November 2020
Customers as Strangers:
Strangers are those customers who have not yet had any transactions with a firm and may not even be aware of the firm. At the industry level, strangers may be conceptualized as customers who have not yet entered the market, at the firm level, they may include customers of competitors. clearly the firm has no relationship with the customer at this point. Consequently, the firm’s primary goal with these potential customers is to initiate communication with them in order to attract them and acquire their business.
Customers as Acquaintances:
Once customer awareness and trial are achieved, familiarity is established and the customer and the customer and the firm become acquaintances, creating the basis for an exchange relationship. A primary goal for the firm at this stage of the relationship is satisfying the customer. In the acquaintance stage, firms are generally concerned about providing a value proposition to customers comparable with that of competitors. For a customer, an acquaintanceship is effective as long as the customer is relatively satisfied and what is being received in the exchange is perceived as fair value.
Customers as Friends:
As a customer continues to make purchases from a firm and to receive value in the exchange relationship, the firm begins to acquire specific knowledge of the customer’s needs, allowing it to create an offering that directly addresses the customer’s situation. The provision of a unique offering, and thus differential value, transforms the relationship from acquaintance to friendship. A primary goal for firms’ goal for firms at the friendship stage of the relationship is customer retention.
Customers as Partners:
As a customer continues to interact with a firm, the level of trust often deepens and the customer may receive more customized product offerings and interactions. The trust developed in the friendship stage is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a customer firm partnership to develop. That is the creation of trust leads to the creation of commitment and that is the condition necessary for customers to extend the time perspective of a relationship.