Why Relationships Matter And ROI Doesn’t

einstein-roi_sm-300x188We live in a society that puts the dollar above the customer. That is, corners are cut and customer service is subservient to getting "paid." Don't get me wrong, I like getting paid as much as the next person but too many times we question the return before we implement any kind of customer service process that influences both repeat business and word-of-mouth.

Albert Einstein said it best when he said, "Everything that can be counted doesn't necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted."

I recently wrote a post called, Forget About ROI, Start Think About ROE. In that post I put forth the idea of thinking in terms of Return On Experience, in other words, the return you receive on the experience you give your customers. I had somebody tweet me saying that I was naive and misguided if I thought ROI wasn't important. He missed the point. I'm not saying that ROI isn't important, because it is. What I am saying is that being able to track an ROI isn't important on some of the things that we know we should be doing. That takes me back to what Einstien said, "...everything that counts cannont necessarily be counted."

While there are ways to track a repeat customer and word-of-mouth, it's not always straight forward. I don't think anybody would argue that customer service goes a long way to determining if a particular customer is going to become a loyal customer or not. We've all been subject to poor customer service and thought to ourselves, "I'm never coming back here again!" The opposite is also true.

Again, you may not be able to figure out what the cost to income ratio is of good customer service, we know it's there. So, when it comes to relationships, they matter and ROI doesn't.

Building A Positive Relationship With Your Customers

Depending on what type of business you're in, the depth of your customer relationships will vary. I'm not putting forth the idea that you should become buddy-buddy with all of your customers to the point that you're hanging out with them on the weekends. What I'm saying is that you should build the type of professional relationship that showcases you as the authority, the go to restaurant, or the honest mechanic. What does that mean? It means that you should give great customer service, that you should enchant your customers to the point that, at least in their minds, that you are the best thing since the Internet.

From there, once they are enchanted, follow-up to cement yourself as the business of choice. Let me give you a hypothetical scenario using a barber shop.

I go in to get my hair cut, walk up to the counter and am told there will be a 45 or so minute wait. The gentleman behind the counter offers me a coupon saying, "If you'd like to, the coffee shop next door has some of the best coffee in town, here is a coupon for a free cup. I can give you a buzz on your cell when your barber is ready."

I take the coupon, and in 30 minutes I get a call from my barber letting me know that I'm up next. Once I get back to the barber shop my barber welcomes me by name, and asks me if I want the same "regular" haircut, tapered in the back, as I got last time. I mention that I would and then he asks me if the shampoo he recommended had cleared up my dry scalp.

I tell him that it had and then he strikes up a pleasant conversation about me. He shows a genuine interest in what I do, even mentions that he knows somebody that might be in the market for my services and asks for a business card. I give it to him, but instead of sticking it in his pocket he picks up the phone and two minutes later tells me that his friend will be expecting my call.

After he ensures that everything is just how I like it he tells me how much he appreciates my business and how much he enjoys it when I come in. 20 minutes after leaving I get an email from him, with the phone number of his friend along with a few tips on how to combat dry scalp.

How would that make you feel? He didn't spend any money, but he did go above what I'd expect from the person cutting my hair. Even the conversation was about me (everybody's favorite conversation is about themselves), and not about the weather (what most barbers talks about).

What is the ROI on that? Can it even be tracked? Do you even need to track it? I don't think so, because once again, relationships matter and ROI doesn't.

So, don't let the fact that it can't be counted stop you from implementing a customer enchantment methodology into your everyday business practice. Just know that the return will be huge, even if you can't prove it. Remember, people talk. Give them something positive to talk about and they will talk about you, influencing others to become your customer. That's how you create a lifelong customer that creates other lifelong customers.

How are you enchanting yours?


  1. Sanjay B.Mathur on March 16, 2014 at 8:38 am

    I completely agree that the Relationships matter a lot. ROI is very important and could well be the key objective of the Business. However one cannot Grow ( even retain ) ROI without Customers/Stakeholders who get Joy when interacting with the Business.

    • David N Johnson on March 21, 2014 at 5:38 pm

      Exactly Sanjay! ROI is paramount but my intention with this post was to point out that there are other things to look at, things that have a direct impact on ROI.

  2. Sanjay B.Mathur on March 16, 2014 at 11:27 am

    I feel thar Realtionshipa are important and matter more than ROI. It is true that ROI could be the Key ( one of the key ) objectives of Business. But it is also true that for Growing ( even maintaining ) ROI, Business needs Customers/stakeholders who will continue to come back to the business for their needs. The relationships with them ensure even better margins – because they do not mind the business making a fair profit. They need the services and growth of the Business, like its promotors. Hence Relationships are the key without which it is difficult to have a sustainable ROI. The time/efforts – resources spent on developing Relationships can be considered as the Marketing expense and using costing tools it is possible to work out a mathematical relation between Relationship and ROI.

    • David N Johnson on March 21, 2014 at 5:39 pm

      I sincerely appreciate you stopping by and commenting Sanjay, I really do appreciate you helping to further the conversation. Thank you for the input!

  3. Brian Bennington on March 18, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    Hi David, You certainly impressed me with your flawless “Einstein” post. (If you remember, I wrote to you previously about typos and the value of proofing everything that will be read by your peers. Then, I noticed you didn’t write it, but just reposted the article from “Branding,” whatever that is. I also noticed your credit to them said “by in Branding, Social Marketing.” What does that mean? Is it “In Branding” or just “Branding” and you added the “in”?

    Anyway, if you believe what you posted, you really should review my website. The majority of it (home page and it’s 12 internal links) is devoted to explaining the who, what, where, when and why of “relationship centered marketing.” As to what we do for auto dealerships, that’s on the “RCM for Auto Dealerships” link.

    If it makes sense to you. let me know as we might be able to “try a little something” together that will make you both money and look good, but don’t waste my time if you haven’t read the site. Oh, and I’d welcome any questions or criticisms you have.


    • David N Johnson on March 21, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      I remember Brian. This is a post I wrote, not really sure how that is showing up in the author section, but I will fix it. I’ve been consolidating to this site, which isn’t officially launched yet, but anything new will be proofread before posted. I will check out your site for sure!

      Wordpress is leaving out the author name (mine) it should say By David Johnson, in Branding and Social media, which are the two categories this post resides in. I will ferret out the root cause, thank you Brian.