Author(s): Fournier S, Dobscha S, Mick DG
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Abstract Relationship marketing is in vogue. And why not? The new, increasingly efficient ways that companies have of understanding and responding to customers' needs and preferences seemingly allow them to build more meaningful connections with consumers than ever before. These connections promise to benefit the bottom line by reducing costs and increasing revenue. Unfortunately, a close look suggests that the relationships between companies and customers are troubled ones, at best. Companies may delight in learning more about their customers and in being able to provide features and services to please every possible palate. But customers delight in neither. In fact, customer satisfaction rates in the United States are at an all-time low, while complaints, boycotts, and other expressions of consumer discontent are on the rise. This mounting wave of unhappiness has yet to reach the bottom line. Sooner or later, however, corporate performance will suffer unless relationship marketing becomes what it is supposed to be--the epitome of customer orientation. Ironically, the very things that marketers are doing to build relationships with customers are often the things that are destroying those relationships. Relationship marketing is powerful in theory but troubled in practice. To prevent its premature death, marketers need to take the time to figure out how and why they are undermining their own best efforts, as well as how they can get things back on track.
This article was published in Harv Bus Rev
and referenced in Journal of Business & Financial Affairs