Chapter 3

Customer Relationships: Basic Building Blocks of IDIC and Trust

The purest treasure mortal times can afford is a spotless reputation.

—William Shakespeare

In order for a firm to build customer value through managed relationships, the company must engage in a four-step process we call IDIC (identifying customers, differentiating them, interacting with them, and customizing for them). These steps represent the mechanics of any genuine relationship, which by definition will involve mutuality and customer-specific action. But while the IDIC process represents the mechanics of a relationship, generating a customer’s trust should be the most important objective of that process. Relationships simply cannot happen except in the context of customer trust. In succeeding chapters, we take a more detailed look at each of the IDIC tasks as well as at the subject of trust itself, but for now, what’s important is to get an overview of both the mechanics and the objective of relationship building.

We’ve seen that the customer relationship idea has many nuances. For instance, there likely will be an emotional component to most successful customer relationships (at least in consumer marketing), but it’s important to recognize that the obverse of this statement is not necessarily true: because you have an emotional attachment to a company does not mean you have a relationship with that company.

We can’t afford to dismiss entirely the notion that nonemotional relationships between an ...

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