Context is Important in Customer Relationships

For me context is the key – from that comes the understanding of everything.” – Kenneth Noland

In the broader sense, context is the situations that surround an event or any action and through it the persons concerned can construct meaning and completely understand the current event or action. Putting things in perspective or using context is perhaps one of the most evolved portions of human thought processes. Context is important as it leads to a better understanding of the people around and your relationship with them. Context is important in customer relationships too as focusing on it your company is able to enhance its understanding of the customer, their needs and why they behave a certain way in connection with your company. By keeping the context in focus, a company is better able to provide the customer with service and offerings specific to their needs and thereby gain customer loyalty and profitability. Companies must view their relationship with each customer in a separate context, depending on the particular needs of the customer and the goal of the company with regard to business and the customer. It is therefore clear, that context cannot be ‘one size fits all’ and each event and situation must be dealt with keeping context in focus.

Context is important in customer relationships as through a complete understanding of the customer’s context allows a company to prevent ambiguity while serving their individual customers. Context determines relevance of what the customer might need and what they would be keen on buying and what would keep them engaged. Customers too would be reacting and acting within a context and unless a company is able to identify and establish that context, they would regularly fall short of meeting the customer’s expectations. The more a company understands the customer’s context the lesser time it would take to serve the customer in a more effective and efficient manner. All decisions and actions within a context and hence ignoring the context would mean overlooking the actual reason – emotional or otherwise – that a decision or action has been taken. We have repeatedly mentioned that customers make their buying decisions and interact with companies from both the emotional realm and for their actual needs and only when companies understand these realms / contexts can they deliver consistently enhanced service and customer experiences. Context is important to be understood since when it changes so do the needs and expectations of the customers and only a company that is dedicated to customer service would be able to identify these correctly, giving them an edge over any competitor.

Context is important in customer relationships since only when customers can master understanding a context, will they be able to deliver service, messages and offerings that are relevant for the customer at the current time. All relationships with customers, it is assumed, are interactive given that there is a constant exchange of information and communication between the customer and the company. Depending on the context, each party would react or respond in a certain way and only when the relationship is strong and contextual, would these interactions be meaningful and fruitful. Over time, even if there is not much said, previous harmonious interactions would precede any further interactions and despite the current context each party would understand the other.

For example, a company that has been paying attention to the customer’s likes and wants, would be able to recommend similar products using the context of previous buying depending on preference. This pleases the customers as it amounts to personalized service and reflects an understanding of the customer and a commitment on the part of the company to continually please the customer. Using context also saves time for customers – each time a customer logs in to a company’s virtual store, they would be able to begin shopping instantly since their information (name, address, credit card details and others) would already provide the context.

Of course, companies need to get better and better in understanding customers and providing even more opportunities to create context that would further reduce time and effort spent by a customer.  With such a fierce market and volatile environment, companies have no choice but to deepen their relationships with their customers and that can be done only through the consistent meeting of each customer’s expectations. To do this you need to get the customer to engage and interact with you more frequently such that the context of your company’s relationship with them becomes deeper and long lasting. As you begin to understand the customer better, the customer will respond and reward your company with loyalty and repeat business.  Companies can use the context that customers don’t like to continually uproot a relationship and start afresh with another company, to their advantage. Also when a company has fully understood almost all the contexts within which a customer operates, they would be able to provide service and offerings that become indispensable to the customer thereby ensuring longevity of the relationship and sustained margins.

We have mentioned several times in the past that each customer is different and hence the treatment and relationship with each would need to be different and individualized. By understanding the particular customer’s preferences and the context, it would be easier to add depth and richness to the relationship – that would be worth far more than the most competitive pricing and the best of offers.

Having said that context is important and is possibly one of the ways to keep customers, anyone running a business knows that customers have a short attention span especially if they are miffed by something, even though small. They are more demanding because they know that they can get what they want. Customers are not easily pleased and unless they can see a commitment and can perceive a thorough understanding of their needs by the company, it would be tough to keep them. Companies need to keep this context in focus – in both the real world and the virtual world. They should be able to permeate great service via all channels of communication and would gain invaluable data and information about the needs, behaviour and expectations from a wider audience – the untapped customer base.

Even while looking at the customer experience context, companies must remain flexible and agile to allow them to adapt to a customer’s buying patterns and routine, such that you can become an indispensable part of their lives. This is not in the literal sense, but simply means that the customer can look to your company not just for buying and business, but know that you are the dependable partner that they can go to and can have the confidence that they would receive solutions even beyond the scope of the business. This is the context of convenience and value-add and when companies match up to this – they can be sure to have customers stay with them for a long time and also be willing brand ambassadors for the company and the brand.

Context is important in customer relationships as it enable companies to operate around and make strategies to involve customers. It keeps the focus on what the customer needs rather than what your company would like to sell to them. With time, your products and services will become what the customer sees as something they want and the offerings will cease to remain only offerings. Customers believe companies that display care and dependability and would trust actions rather than just the words of the company and for companies to display this trust, they must use every context that customers operate within.

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