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Customer intimacy: a guide to cultivating business relationships

Customer intimacy: a guide to cultivating business relationships

Customer intimacy is not something that just happens overnight. The reality is that it can take businesses years to build a special bond with the people who buy their products and services. In the vast majority of cases, though, this commitment pays off. 

According to a study by Paddle, a mere 1% increase in new customers can boost profits by over 3%. However, reducing the amount of people that leave a business (also known as churn rate) by 1% can have an even greater effect, increasing profits by a staggering 7%.¹

In this blog post, we'll cover the definition of customer intimacy and reveal how having an in-depth, even profound understanding of your audience can reshape your business destiny. We'll also dive into the benefits of deepening your relationships, and show strategies to foster loyalty and thus reap unprecedented revenue growth.

But that's not all. We'll present you with the challenges of establishing customer intimacy in today's competitive marketplace, and how you can leverage technology to meet your consumers' unique needs and expectations at scale.

What is customer intimacy?

At its core, customer intimacy is all about understanding your audience on a deep level. This involves taking the time to get to know them, learning what they need and want, and then tailoring your products or services to fit them perfectly.

To achieve a close relationship, you need to engage with your customers in a way that feels personal. This could involve reaching out to them through email, social media, or phone calls, and giving sincere attention to their feedback.

By practicing steps like these , you can gain valuable insights into your customers’ demands and preferences, which you can then use to develop more targeted marketing campaigns and personalized product offerings. 

Some examples of how you might achieve a more personal level of engagement include promoting exclusive discounts or rewards for loyal customers, or launching new products that address specific demands or pain points they’ve shared with you in the past.

Ultimately, customer intimacy is about building trust and empathy, which can help you cultivate a loyal base that will continue to support your business for years to come.

What are the benefits of customer intimacy?

When your customers feel heard and valued, they won't just stick around – they'll sing your praises to everyone they know. In addition to offering you their business far into the future, they’ll be much more likely to bring their friends into the fold. Eventually, they might even be willing to pay a little extra for the fantastic experience you provide.

It improves customer loyalty

Cultivating a robust customer intimacy strategy goes beyond mere transactions between customers and businesses; it's about creating meaningful connections. By truly understanding your customers' preferences and aspirations, you lay the foundation for loyalty.

Do you want to learn how to foster customer loyalty with a support strategy that enables long-term success? Check out this article: Defining customer support in 2023: Why it’s key to your long-term success.

It fosters customer-driven revenue growth

Developing a strong customer intimacy strategy doesn't just lead to improved customer loyalty, though – the potential benefits go far beyond that. It actually opens the door to a thriving ecosystem where your business and customers grow symbiotically, ensuring sustained success in the long run.

Google, a company whose strong connection with its customer base has led to steady, impressive revenue growth over time.

Google's success is a testament to the power of building strong, lasting customer intimacy and the positive impact it can have on boosting revenue.

Google’s trainings are a great example of their continuous commitment in upskilling the users and helping them to take the most of each and every tool offered by the tech giant. Beyond just familiarity, this initiative equips users to strategically leverage the platform's capabilities.

Take Google Ads, for instance — users armed with enhanced proficiency in both the platform and paid media strategies are poised to attain superior results.

This success not only justifies but encourages increased investments in paid media, thereby fostering a positive impact on Google's revenue growth. In essence, Google's commitment to user education is not only a value-add but also a catalyst for mutual growth.

Customer intimacy strategies to stand out from the crowd

Achieving customer intimacy requires a commitment to listening to and learning from your audience in an ongoing fashion. Below, we’ll explore the three facets that form the backbone of a strategy to build strong relationships: education, community, and personalization.

Educational strategies

1. Share resources that help customers derive more value from your products

Educational strategies for customer intimacy can help businesses provide value beyond their specific product offerings. This can include industry-specific insights, best practices guides, market trends, and more.

By sharing these types of resources with customers, businesses can help them develop a deeper understanding of how to use their products effectively, and how to get the most out of them. This, in turn, can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

At Intercom, for example, our customers can learn and get inspired with our weekly webinars. Available live and on-demand, these content sessions provide best practice advice, in-product tours, benchmarking analysis, and more.

2. Offer customer training courses to create product experts

Empowering customers with the knowledge and skills to maximize the benefits of your products is key to fostering lasting brand loyalty. However, it's not just about providing basic help center content. To truly cultivate product experts and create devoted customers, you must delve deeper.

Educational sessions should be designed to not just teach customers how to use your products, but to explore creative and innovative applications. These training programs unlock the full potential of your creations, promoting an engaged customer base excited to discover all the possibilities your offerings present.

For example, if you're a support leader, team manager, or agent, you can join our academy to master automation-first customer service. Through the academy, you can showcase your proficiency with Intercom by earning a certification that not only validates your skills but also serves as a testament to your knowledge.

This badge is not just a one-time achievement, either – it's a valuable asset that will continue to bolster your professional profile throughout your entire career.

Beyond enhancing customer intimacy, these training courses empower support reps to help customers solve their own issues, reducing the strain on the team. Moreover, they serve as invaluable feedback loops, highlighting areas of our product that may require enhancement or additional features.

3. Write case studies about your customers

When creating case studies, it's important to focus on your customers’ journey and pain points, as well as how your product or service helped them to overcome their issues. By doing so, you can demonstrate the value of your offering with real-life situations that build credibility with your audience and convince them of your products’ positive impact. 

Another benefit of writing case studies is that they allow you to showcase your customers’ success. By highlighting their achievements, you can create a sense of community around your product or service and inspire others to achieve similar results – all of which leads us to our next set of strategies.

Discover how businesses like yours use Intercom to acquire, engage, and support customers here.

Community strategies

1. Create a customer advisory board (CABs)

A customer advisory board is a group of individuals who are selected to offer feedback and insights to a company on a regular basis. Its purpose is to provide a first-hand point of view, allowing businesses to gain valuable insights into their customers' wishes, preferences, and struggles.

This information can then be used to improve products and services, as well as to develop new ones that better meet whatever needs come to light through the CAB. In addition to providing actionable feedback from customers, a customer advisory board can also help to build intimacy.

By involving clients in the decision-making process, a company can demonstrate that they value their input and are committed to meeting their needs. This can lead to increased loyalty and advocacy, as well as a greater sense of community among customers. 

However, it's also important to note that creating a customer advisory board requires careful planning and execution. Companies need to identify the right customers to participate, establish clear objectives and guidelines, and ensure that the board is structured in a way that enables productive discussions and feedback.

Need an example? Google's customer advisory board (gCAB) strategy is built on an exclusive and invitation-only membership model, ensuring a peer-to-peer atmosphere. It comprises about 25 influential C-level executives from leading global companies, fostering a unique, diverse peer community.

Members receive premier access, exclusive opportunities, and exceptional engagement with Google Cloud executives, gaining insight into Google-wide strategies, technology roadmaps, trends, and innovations.

Additionally, gCAB offers members the chance to directly influence Google Cloud’s priorities and strategies, participate in world-class experiences, and network with both peers and Google Cloud executives in luxurious settings.

2. Host customer meetups

Hosting customer meetups is a powerful strategy for developing customer intimacy. These events are a great opportunity for businesses to connect with their audience in a more personal and meaningful way.

By bringing customers together in a virtual or physical space, companies can facilitate conversations and foster relationships that may not have been possible otherwise.

During these events, businesses can gather feedback from customers, learn about their pain points, and identify opportunities for improvement.

Additionally, customer meetups can be used as a platform to educate people about products or services, share industry trends and best practices, and provide networking opportunities.

3. Create a community forum

A community forum provides a platform where customers can interact with each other, share their experiences, and offer advice. It also enables the company to engage with its audience and respond to their concerns in a timely manner.

By creating a forum, a company can foster a sense of belonging and build stronger relationships with its customers. 

In addition to encouraging customer intimacy, a community forum can also help a company to establish its authority and thought-leadership in its industry.

Personalization strategies

1. Help customers where and when they need it most with in-product messaging

According to our 2023 Customer Service Trends Report, 89% of support leaders say that personalized support is a key competitive differentiator.²

When your customers are using your product, questions and concerns will inevitably arise. The easiest way to address these issues is by offering assistance right where they are – that is, through the product itself. 

In-product messaging allows you to reach customers while they're using your app or product, making it a quicker and simpler strategy for solving their problems.

Further, it's convenient and saves time, providing instant answers without the hassle of switching to other channels like phone calls or emails.

2. Use first-party data to create unified customer records

In today's digital world, people care about how their information is handled, especially as cookies become increasingly less common.

However, many customers are okay with businesses using data they directly provide, like email addresses and site visit details, to enhance their experience.

This kind of data is reliable because it comes directly from the users, who’ve given their consent for its use.

With modern customer service tools, you can gather this valuable first-party data and use it to understand your customers better. For instance, you can track things like subscription details and account activity.

This data helps you offer personalized support and create tailored messages. By utilizing this information, you can make your customer service more effective and customized to individual needs.

If you are ready to say goodbye to generic, one-size-fits-all customer experiences, read on: A personal touch: Intercom’s guide to CX personalization.

3. Create personalized flows based on customer behavior

Personalizing your customer experience isn't just about knowing who your customers are, but also understanding what they do.

Besides collecting information about your customers, you can also send targeted messages and actions based on their activities on your site, app, or product. These activities can be anything from buying something to resetting a password.

These customized messages, which can include personal details like first names,make customers feel special and relevant to your brand.

Customer intimacy challenges you can’t ignore

One of the major challenges to sustaining customer intimacy is scaling customer support without compromising the closeness that you’ve established. As the number of customers grows, companies often lack the capacity and resources to nurture multiple strategies. This can lead to a decline in the quality of customer service and a decrease in customer loyalty.

Another challenge of customer intimacy is maintaining consistency across different channels and touchpoints. Customers may interact with a company through various channels such as social media, email, phone, or in-person, and each interaction should reflect the same level of personalized attention and care. Failing to achieve that level of consistency across mediums can lead to confusion, frustration, and a loss of trust in the company.

Businesses also face the challenge of collecting and analyzing customer data to provide personalized experiences. While technology can provide valuable insights into customer behavior, companies must balance data collection with privacy concerns and ensure that customers feel comfortable sharing their information.

Finally, businesses must use the data they collect to create relevant and timely interactions with customers, rather than bombarding them with irrelevant offers and messages. Moderation is key here, as each interaction should be unique and worthy of the customer’s time.

How can technology help you maintain customer intimacy at scale?

Developing customer intimacy sounds great, but how do you maintain the same level of closeness with each person when your business is growing at a dizzying pace?

Technology is the key to overcoming this daunting task. In fact, one of the aspects of customer intimacy that stands to benefit the most from modern tools is personalization.

According to our previously mentioned Customer Service Trends Report, a whopping 82% of support leaders say that customer expectations for personalized support have grown over the last 12 months.

In order to provide customized support that meets customers' distinctive needs, support leaders will need to leverage first-party data by using a powerful customer service platform that helps them to better understand their customers and how best to support them. 

With technology, businesses can gather and analyze customer data – including their purchase history, browsing behavior, and preferences – and use that information to deliver tailored experiences.

In other words, a customer service solution that utilizes automation can help businesses continue to reach ideal levels of personalization and intimacy at scale. 

Build customer intimacy with Intercom

As you’ve seen throughout this article, building customer intimacy is a process that demands time, attention, and genuine interest from companies. Businesses need to dedicate themselves to understanding the needs and aspirations of the people who buy their products or services.

However, the greatest challenge is not necessarily in achieving a deep understanding of what makes your customers tick. Rather, it’s in continuing to address their highest priorities and satisfying their most pressing demands as your business grows.

That's where technology comes into play. Our help desk solution, for example, allows your company to maximize the productivity of your support team without giving up the human touch that makes your customers feel special.

Our platform is designed to solve complex issues quickly with tickets optimized for team collaboration and real-time customer updates. It’s also equipped with advanced resources, such as:

  • Omnichannel approach: From live chat and WhatsApp to email and phone, all channels are easily accessible from the inbox.

  • Workflows: Use our visual builder to automate your team’s workload with assignment rules, SLAs, time-saving bots, and more.

  • Reporting: Real-time dashboards and monitoring views make it easy to take action and optimize your team’s performance.

Are you ready to get more done faster? Start your free trial today.


¹ Paddle, Customer acquisition in 2023: Everything you need to know about acquiring new customers. ² Intercom, Customer Service Trends Report 2023. We asked 1,700+ customer support teams across the world how they’re meeting the challenges and opportunities of 2023.