Customer Intimacy Strategy Examples (6 Companies)

Research shows there are three fundamental business models.

And if you read our tutorial on choosing your customer value proposition, you already know the three models are:

  1. Operational Excellence
  2. Product Leadership and
  3. Customer Intimacy

For this tutorial, we are going to go deeper into the customer intimacy strategy with examples and see what some leading companies are choosing.

What is customer intimacy strategy?

Companies that choose the customer intimacy strategy are communicating to their customers,

“Choose us because we can customize our products and services to meet your individual needs better than the competition.”

Customer intimacy strategy is how the organization chooses to separate themselves from the competition. This is done by staying ahead of the wants and needs of the customer, modifying the product or service to fit what the customer wants, and empowering the staff to be able to make decisions that best serve the customer. 

If you choose the customer intimacy strategy, you have important decisions to make that have a profound impact on your balance sheet, hiring procedures, customer demographics & psychographics, and of course, on the sales and marketing strategy.

Your decision on which business model you choose should not be taken lightly.

  • For example, if you choose to churn as much low cost inventory as possible as quickly as you can, the customer intimacy strategy is not for you because these customers expect a tailored product to suit their needs.
  • If you choose to deliver the most technologically advanced commercial security system, the customer intimacy strategy is not for you because these customers place a higher value on the flexibility of molding the product around their needs.
  • If you choose to create a high touch, full support medical delivery service with many solutions and frequent product training, the customer intimacy strategy may be exactly what your customers want.

Let’s now develop a plan to make the customer intimacy strategy a reality for you, and then look at some examples.

How to achieve customer intimacy

Achieving customer intimacy is far more than a fancy mission and vision statement.

The important strategy of customer intimacy requires a deep integration of many simultaneous strategies and techniques, with one laser focus:

Exceeding customer expectations

For this reason, everything your company does needs to be centered around your customer.

Your team is an extremely important asset. Because, in most cases, your staff will be regularly interacting with customers. And if your front line doesn't have the skills, the autonomy and the decision-making ability to devote resources to your customer, then this will be an evermore difficult strategy to get right.

An excellent set of techniques implemented by top companies that choose the customer intimacy strategy is to emphasize the correct employee training. This is done with a series of training programs focused on helping the new team member be a better performer.

Here four great training programs to start with:

  1. Goal setting
  2. Core values
  3. Leadership
  4. Customer service

These courses don’t have to be long, under 60 minutes each, but they do have to be focused and leave the team member with a clear and simple action plan so they can easily integrate these skills into their life, making the new skills a positive force and set of habits.

Depending upon your industry, over time, you’ll find team members (and their family members!) will literally thank you for the opportunity to take these courses and showing them how to implement these skills into their life. This is exactly what you want.

Not only will you be doing a service to your team, but your customers will experience these skills through your employees. Getting you closer to an atmosphere of customer intimacy.

Another common customer intimacy trait among the best companies is their dedication to product training on behalf of the customer. Educating and training the customer how to get more from their purchase will further help you build a stronger, loyal bond with your customer.  And with so many online education tools, training is extremely easy to bring to your customers.

A wide range of products and services and a variety of training and education opportunities are common for companies that achieve customer intimacy. Support for customers on how to use the products and opening up communication channels to gain customer feedback helps companies stay in union with what their customers want.

Another excellent method to achieve customer intimacy is through education. But not just any education. The goal is to position your company and team as the #1 resource for your customers. Many companies will joint venture with local universities, get all the certifications necessary and produce the highest quality and quantity of resources in their industry. This places a barrier to entry for any new entrants, but more importantly provides an extra layer in the customer intimacy value proposition.

Additionally, the best companies allocate resources to doing research and discovering as much as they can about their customers. Beyond just a simple demographics report of age, income and zip code, great companies also learn customer’s buying habits, how much they spend and how frequently. They also rapidly innovate new products and services based on market trends learned, staying ahead of the customer’s needs.

Finally, a superior marketing plan is crucial to not just acquiring new customers with this value proposition, but a plan properly implemented to keep customers engaged. First, study Goldman Sachs (website: https://www.goldmansachs.com), Home Depot (website: https://www.homedepot.com and Travelers Companies Inc (website: https://www.travelers.com). See how they are communicating their wide product range, their attention to customer care and education of their products and services.

Then, develop your marketing plan focused on:

  1. Website Marketing and Online Advertising to keep your new customer pipeline full,
  2. Email Marketing to communicate your message to potential and existing customers, and
  3. Targeted Direct Mail Marketing to gain new customers and communicate evermore value to your best customers.

The best companies using the customer intimacy value proposition strategy strive to capture 100% of the customer’s budget for the given product category. This of course means they have done ample research to understand how much their target market spends and then carefully measure ongoing customer habits.

You can too.

Let’s now look at the best companies on the planet and who is using a customer intimacy value proposition.

Customer intimacy strategy company examples

If you have read our checklist on The Top 10 Commandments of Legendary Customer Service, you know that the hospitality industry is often geared towards the customer intimacy strategy.

Services do well here too. And within the services industry are two great companies that are leaders in the financial industry.

First, Goldman Sachs offers an excellent example of customer intimacy. There is no denying they are world class. Just land on their homepage and the entire “above the fold” is dedicated to education. Followed by this statement:

Our clients always come first. We serve them through a global network powered by partnership, integrity, and a shared purpose of advancing sustainable economic growth and financial opportunity.”

These are statements rarely made by product leaders and operational excellence propositions.

Another financial services market leader with a customer intimacy strategy is Charles Schwab. They are truly worthy of study and ethically modelling.

Land on their homepage, made for new users, and you will see this message:

“Welcome to modern investing your way.”

Followed by…

“You deserve more. We can help.”

Schwab has a variety of products and services made to fit the customer’s unique needs. And these solutions are backed by copious amounts of industry leading education.

Over time, you can do something similar.

Another fascinating customer intimacy study is Salesforce. Salesforce has a wide range of products and services made to fit their customer’s needs.

Land on their homepage and you are met with a customer-centric featured story about 3M’s success. Supported by this customer intimacy value proposition:

“See how reps provide seamless support to retailers, distributors, and consumers.”

A common theme among these great companies is that their messaging is “You” focused. The product focus is secondary. And the “me” message that so many companies focus on is only used as a necessary statement to support the message, if needed at all.

Which companies use customer intimacy?

Let’s finish off with a review of some of the top companies, and their value proposition. This review is based on the primary, above the fold message on their respective websites.

While each company may have other things going on ‘under the hood’, we can judge them based on how they communicate their value in arguably their most important messaging platform that they own: their unique address on the world wide web.

Here’s a review of the 30 companies that make up the Dow. The columns are self-explanatory and you can reference each company message using their website address. Keep in mind that these main messages on each page will undoubtedly change, but if these companies have a value proposition that they have built their customer on, their value proposition shouldn’t change in the short term.

dow 30 and their value proposition table
The Dow 30 and their Value Proposition
CompanyIndustryValue PropositionEvidence of primary messageSource
American Express CoFinancial servicesProduct leadershipBuy now, pay later with Plan Ithttps://www.americanexpress.com
Amgen IncPharmaceuticalProduct leadershipCandid conversations: Amgen early career professionalshttps://www.amgen.com/
Apple IncInformation and technologyProduct leadershipiPhone 12 Blast past fasthttps://www.apple.com/
Boeing CoAerospace and defenseOperational excellenceSustainability report: explore our envionmental, social and governance progresshttps://www.boeing.com/
Caterpillar IncConstruction and miningProduct leadershipRail Technology. We are helping our customers by creating smart, connected fleets to meet and exceed the needs of the railroads of tomorrow.https://www.caterpillar.com/
Cisco Systems IncInformation technologyProduct leadershipWhat is AIOps? Discover three benefits and three steps to get started with artificial intelligence operations.https://www.cisco.com/
Chevron CorpPetroleumProduct leadershipChevron hosting 2021 energy transition spotlighthttps://www.chevron.com/
Dow IncChemicalOperational excellenceThe challenge of feeding the world: Growing population impacts the demand for grain production. Dow partnered with the food and feed industry value chain to enable sustainable solutionshttps://www.dow.com/en-us
Goldman Sachs Group IncFinancial servicesCustomer IntimacyExchanges at Goldman Sachs: Exchanges at Goldman Sachs is our podcast where people from across the firm share their insights on developments shaping markets, industries and the global economy.https://www.goldmansachs.com/
Home Depot IncRetailingCustomer IntimacyFree delivery. Special buy savings. How can we help you today?https://www.homedepot.com/
Honeywell International IncConglomerateOperational excellenceThe Future Is What we Make It.https://www.honeywell.com/us/en
International Business Machines CorpInformation technologyCustomer IntimacyExperiment. Fail. Learn. buuild.https://www.ibm.com/us-en?ar=1
Intel CorpInformation technologyProduct leadershipIntroducing Intel Arc.https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/homepage.html
Johnson & JohnsonPharmaceuticalOperational excellence4 ways Johnson & Johnson has worked to make access to medicines around the world more equitablehttps://www.jnj.com/
Coca-Cola CoFoodProduct leadershipA picture of the coca cola bottle and logohttps://www.coca-cola.com/
JPMorgan Chase & CoFinancial servicesOperational excellenceRead our 2020 ESG Reporthttps://www.jpmorganchase.com/
McDonald’s CorpFood industryOperational excellenceThe Saweetie Saweetstakeshttps://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us.html
3M CoConglomerateProduct leadershipWorld places hope in science: In 2021, science has inspired a sense of optimism around the world.https://www.3m.com/
Merck & Co IncPharmaceuticalProduct leadershipWe invent for life: We’re following the science to tackle some of the world’s greatest health threats. But don’t take it from us – see what our people and patients say.https://www.merck.com/
Microsoft CorpInformation technologyProduct leadershipSave up to $200 on Surface Laptop Gohttps://www.microsoft.com/en-us/
Nike IncApparelProduct leadershipThe Best of Air Maxhttps://www.nike.com/
Procter & Gamble CoFast-moving consumer goodsOperational excellenceStepping forward as a good corporate citizenhttps://us.pg.com/
Travelers Companies IncFinancial servicesCustomer IntimacyThe right insurance for you. We've got you covered every day and when it matters most.https://www.travelers.com/
UnitedHealth Group IncManaged health careOperational excellenceUNITED ON A JOURNEY TO IMPROVE HEALTH CAREhttps://www.unitedhealthgroup.com/
SalesforceInformation technologyCustomer Intimacy3M delivers relevant content to increase consumer mindshare. See how reps provide seamless support to retailers, distributors, and consumers.https://www.salesforce.com/
Verizon Communications IncTelecommunicationOperational excellenceThe new Samsung Galaxy Z Series.https://www.verizon.com/
Visa IncFinancial servicesOperational excellenceMeet Visa. A network working for everyone.https://usa.visa.com/
Walgreens Boots Alliance IncRetailingOperational excellenceWide range of products, good logistics, world class financials, long time dividend growth stockhttps://www.walgreens.com/
Walmart IncRetailingOperational excellenceCollege must haves. From dorm rooms to study essentials, get all you need for less!https://www.walgreens.com/
Walt Disney CoBroadcasting and entertainmentCustomer IntimacyDisney Gallery: The Mandalorian. A new episode is now streaming on Disney+.https://www.disney.com/

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