Want to Cultivate Great Customer Relationships? Take the Road Less Travelled

Is there a secret to great customer service? Is there a secret to great customer experiences? Is there a secret to cultivating genuine-meaningful-profitable relationships with customers?  Is there a secret to authentic customer centricity?  I say there is. I also say that it does not lie in the places where almost all organisations are focussed on: data, analytics, process and technology.

Data, analytics, process and technology are content.  Think of these as the walls, floors and roof of a house.  What do they rest on?  The foundation. What happens if the right foundation is not in place?

Using an organic metaphor, I say that data, analytics, process and technology are seeds. What if they are being planted in a desert? If you want to genuinely connect with your customers and cultivate mutually beneficial relationships then you have to cultivate the right ‘soil’ for such a relationship to sprout.  What kind of ‘soil’ am I pointing at? I am pointing at the very ground of your being-in-the-world, the way that you automatically show up in the world.  Think of it as the presence and possibility that walks into the room when you walk into the room.

I am also pointing at the very ground of your organisation’s being-in-the-world.   I am not talking here about brand values cooked up by marketing nor about cultural values cooked up by the Tops or HR. I am pointing at ‘what is so’ in terms of your organisation’s people, priorities, policies, practices, products, processes and platforms.

I get that you are not likely to be used to my way of speaking. So allow me to give you a concrete example of what I mean by ‘the very ground of your being-in-the-world’.  Please read the following quote by Mahatma Gandhi:

A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependant on us. We are dependant on him. He is not an interruption on our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider on our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so.

I invite you to read it again. Now ask yourself, how true is each of these statements for me, for my team members, for my organisation?  Now take a look at the many organisations spending money on VoC, customer analytics, customer journey mapping, process redesign, and technology implementation in the name of customer focus, customer experience and customer-centricity. How true are these statements for these organisations?

I say that the access to great customer service, great customer experience, and authentic customer-centricity is empathy, generosity, and compassion.

I have a question for you to ponder. What becomes possible if you:

  • truly treat your customers as if they were the most important visitors on your premises?
  • showed up in the world in way that honored your customers and never treated them as interruptions to your business?
  • truly embraced your customers and considered them to be an intrinsic and essential part of your business?
  • focused on simplifying and enriching the lives of your customers in a way that contributed to their wellbeing?
  • treated the people who constitute your organisation with dignity and respect where each person was listened to as a person of worth?

Does all this sound unrealistic to you?  Would you rather be working on the getting access to the voice of the customer, talking about ROI, changing processes, outsourcing, and implementing CRM and other technologies?  That’s totally OK by me. You probably wasted a ton of money on CRM. And I am totally OK with you wasting another ton of money on Customer Experience stuff.  It is your money!

If, however, you have some listening to what I am pointing at here then I wish to share, with you, this quote from Mahatma Gandhi:

Love is the subtlest force in the world.

Yes, I am a dreamer. I dream of a world that works for all, none excluded. I dream of you and I working together to co-create this world. And with that thought I leave you with this final quote from Mahatma Gandhi:

It is beneath human dignity to lose one’s individuality and become a mere cog in the machine.

Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant. Passionate about enabling customer-centricity by calling forth the best from those that work in the organisation and the intelligent application of digital technologies. Subject matter expert with regards to customer strategy, customer insight, customer experience (CX), customer relationship management (CRM), and relationship marketing. Working at the intersection of the Customer, the Enterprise (marketing, sales, service), and Technology.

11 thoughts on “Want to Cultivate Great Customer Relationships? Take the Road Less Travelled”

  1. Excellent post, Maz. So excellent that I am going to broadcast this to our Customer Success organization. I just got off the phone with one of my project leads and saw the link to your blog. The conversation I had with him was about this very topic. Building a house on a poor foundation will result in a wobbly building that will fail to serve any useful purpose.


    1. Hello Peter,

      What can I say? I write from a context of service, of contribution, to make a difference. You taking the time to comment and share leaves me knowing-feeling that my writing, my speaking, my sharing does make a difference. Thank you!

      Please know that I am grateful that you exist. Please know that I am grateful that you chose to take to contribute to my life. I wish you the very best. And I say be great: be great with people, touch lives, be a source of contribution – one that lifts people up, like you have lifted me up.

      With my love


    1. Hello James,

      You show up for me as a friend. I am truly delighted that you exist in this world. I do hope that all is well with you. And I look forward to our next face to face conversation/meeting.

      With my love


  2. Maz ~ You inspire me! I am preparing for an important presentation and this brought clarity and purpose to the direction I will go! Thank you and bless you! A FAN for life ~ Patricia


    1. Hello Patricia

      Thank you. I am truly grateful to receive this gift from you. I am touched that through my existence I have contributed to the quality of your existence. What a privilege, thank you and bless you. Bless you for reaching out to me and sharing that which you share.

      Is it possible that you and I can stand/show up from the space called “friends for life”? You and I being/showing up from this context, friends for life, rather that I/you showing up as “fan for life”. I am an ordinary human being who welcomes friends and friendship. I am not a rock star and thus feel uncomfortable in any of my fellow human beings putting them in the position of being a “fan for life”. Why? You and I are equals. That which I write speaks to you only because it resides within you. It is you, you are it. All you have done is to remind yourself of it.

      Please be aware that I am profoundly grateful that you exist. I am profoundly grateful that we are in communication. I am profoundly grateful that you touch my life and I touch your life. Please know that I declare myself to be your friend.

      At your service and with my love,


  3. Great article and I love that you included one of my favorite quotes about customer service (the Gandhi quote). What you write may be a dream to some, but reality to a few great organizations that understand the importance of being customer (and employee) focused.


    1. Hello Shep
      Thank you for your generosity. I wish you the very best and look forward to ‘hearing your voice’ again.

      At your service


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