We are all used to the process.  During the sales transaction we demonstrate love and attention to our prospects hoping to quickly convert them into paying customers (and commission providers).  But then what happens afterwards?  According to a 402 executives new study “The Corporate Love Meter 2013” published by Strativity, not much.  Companies quickly abandoned their newly found loved ones (now known as customers) and move to the next target.  Customers on their part, reciprocate and transform the once monogamous relationship into an open marriage (59% of customers) or worse (105 describe it as on again off again relationships and 5% describe it as a one night stand).

Loyalty is a human trait that is applied under certain conditions.  Customers are first and foremost human beings and when they see that their partners, commercial or personal, are taking them for granted, they stop being loyal.

The study highlights the disconnect between customers and companies across multiple aspects of the relationship.

The Nature of Relationships – Only 29% of the executives surveyed are focusing on emotional engagement (love and admiration) with customers. The rest are maintaining a very rational relationship based on convenience, price and reliability.  Any relationship devoid of emotions is doomed to be broken.

The characteristics of the relationships – 37% of the respondents admit that they have become comfortable in the relationship. They no longer seek to excite their partners but rather hope that they will not notice the boredom that settled into their relationship.  Well inertia is the least effective strategy to keep a lover or a customer.

The value of the relationship – 29%of the respondents claim that money became an issue in their relationship. When money is an issue the value is lacking.  Promised heaven and earth, customers often discover that the companies had no intention of delivering either.  Instead a miser approach to the relationship is applied after the customer signed the agreement. And very quickly the customer is starting to wonder how he fell into the same trap again.

The missing communication – 25% of US respondents admit that they only speak when they fight (complaint management) and 18% claimed that they communicate only when the contract is about to expire.  These statistics illustrates a utilitarian, on a need basis relationship and are subject to a risk of having another suitor coming and sweeping the customers off their feet.

Although many executives have indicated plans to deliver exceptional experiences to their customers in the coming year, the managers among the respondents were much more skeptical about such a scenario.  They seem to have preferred a complacent relationship in which they minimize communication and interaction with their customers.  In the absence of manager’s commitment to execute, executives’ ability to realize their vision of better more engaging relationship in the coming year is in jeopardy.

Brands are designed to evoke emotions.  Emotions are what enable companies to defend their price and often charge a premium price.  In the absence of an emotionally engaging brand, the product will be perceived as a commodity subject to price pressure.  However brands need to manage their love across the complete customer journey.  Playing a bait and switch in which the sales interaction is euphorically delightful only to be shattered the day after the marriage into a utilitarian, complacent reality, it the wrong way to develop relationships both in the personal and professional realm.  It is time to raise the real question: How do you design and deliver a long term love relationship with your customers?