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Customer vs. Friend: Rethinking brand relationships

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Customer vs. Friend

Today is a new day and today you can start treating your friends better. I have an assignment for you: Take out your last report about your customers, open it in word and find the word “Customer” and replace it with “Friend.” Then reread it and see how you feel. If you feel good about the report, than keep up the good work; but if you feel awkward or dirty about what you just read, highlight the data and find out how you can make it better.

customer vs. friend

Customer in Customer vs. Friend

I don’t like the word customer because it immediately associates a dollar sign to your best friend. What is a customer? This is a person that has invested in you and your product. When was the last time your “real friend” invested in you? It is very easy to dismiss a customer complaint, but not so easy to dismiss a complaint from a friend. If a friend takes the time to tell us we are doing something they don’t like; we often times will try to make amends, but when a customer complains we often dismiss it as an “anger customer.”

  • “We tried our best, but you can’t win them all.”
  • “Sometimes the customer is just upset no matter what we do.”
  • “There are many more fish in the sea.”

In customer service we often hear these lines and we have come to accept it, but if we change our thinking, we realize this is unacceptable. If we change from customer vs. friend, we start to see how crazy it sounds. Would you say any of the above about a friend?

  • “We tried our best, but you can’t win them all.” – We tried our best, but some friends aren’t worth it!
  • “Sometimes the customer is just upset no matter what we do.” – Sometimes our friends are upset no matter what we do. So, I guess I will give up.
  • “There are many more fish in the sea.”  – There are many more friends out there. I don’t really need this one.

The idea that you can walk away from a customer or friend is ludicrous, yet we see companies doing it all the time. We should change the way we think about customers: Friend service and not Customer service! If we train our staff to think about every customer as their best friend imagine how our companies can grow.

Friend in Customer vs. Friend

A friend is someone we share everything with good or bad, we share! We take an interest in their personal life. We DON’T try to sell them something every time we meet and we DON’T talk only about ourselves. We listen and offer advice even when we can’t directly help, we go out of our way to find someone that can solve their problem. When we start to look at the “Customer relationship” as a “Friendship” both parties win. Our brands gain loyal friends that understand everyone can make mistakes. This will not solve all the problems but when they happen; if you have created strong friendships, you will work through them with little or no damage to your brand. It also creates that holy grail of marketing: “Word of Mouth.” If you are a good friend people will talk about you!

  • “You know what my friend did the other day”
  • “That reminds me of the time my friend……”
  • “My friend helped me when I had the same problem”

Change the way you view and think about your “Customers” and your customers will change the way they think about your brand.


Any thoughts on the Customer vs. Friend idea? What have you done lately that shows you are a good friend? How social are you being?

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1 Comment

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    It is Friday... Just be Awesome!
    September 3, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    […] ways to make their lives easier. If you see positive change run with it! Than start thinking of you customers as friends and see if that […]

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