Customer Advocacy and Customer Intimacy: Aren't they the same?

futurelab default header

by: Chris Lawer

Recently, I was posed the following question through the OMC Group website (shortly to be relaunched with a new design) by a strategic marketer in a large European financial services company:

Dear Chris,

Can you tell me if there are any differences between customer advocacy and customer intimacy? If so, can you explain them.

This was too interesting a challenge to pass up so I wrote a bespoke reply. I can now share a summary, generic version with Empty Whitecoat readers…and here is an extract:

There are indeed differences between advocacy and intimacy – but they are subtle and are mainly concerned with the particular emphasis a company places on being more open and transparent, creating trust, building dialogue, involving customers, changing its style and tactics of relationship marketing and the alignment and incentivisation of business partners.

… The basic goal of advocacy is to earn much higher levels of customer trust, which can then be transformed into greater loyalty, reduced marketing costs and better innovation / learning potential. The problem with many customer intimacy approaches is that they have been turned "inwards", with the primary aim to improve the company's operational performance and productivity at the expense of moving closer to customers. Advocacy aims to correct this misalignment by organising the entire firm behind a unique trusted advisor or customer consultant position. Once performed consistently, this can generate authentic loyalty.

To read or download the full response (158 kb pdf paper), click here. And do send me your comments or additional questions either through the blog or in private.   Thanks!

Original Post: