Part 7: Do Strong Personal Relationships Really Matter?

Over the years we have heard many swimming pool retailers express the opinion that they have strong, personal relationships with their loyal customers (loyalists). And, they believe those personal relationships are one of their key advantages compared to other outlets. 

We were able to test this belief with our recent independent survey, and here is what we found:

B7 Personal Relationships  

Strong personalized relationships are not a significant advantage today!

This result is likely surprising for most specialty retailers. The perception of an advantage due to strong, personalized relationships with their retailer does not exist for the majority of Loyalist customers. While it is true that some do see an advantage, many do not. The simple fact is that only 28 percent of all Loyalists see an advantage in strong, personalized relationships with their pool retailer versus outlets like mass merchants, other specialty retailers and the Internet.

Strong personalized relationships do not guarantee customer satisfaction!

If consumers don’t see the advantage of strong personalized relationships, how can it be a basis for satisfaction with overall retailer value? Obviously, it can’t. However those who do see the advantage are clearly more satisfied with the overall value from their retailer than those who don’t.  

Yet, at 28 percent recognition and 65 percent satisfaction, just how important is this advantage in the overall picture? Based on our research, we infer that relationships have value, but other more important factors are likely involved. Our findings suggest that depending on strong personal relationships alone to create loyalty would be a mistake. 

The right training for the right people matters

Perhaps the reason for such low recognition is that strong personalized relationships are likely more common when store owners or engaged managers are involved. And, as owners retreat from relationship building activity due to the pressures of running the business, strong personal relationships with customers inherently suffer. Seasonal and shorter-term employees just can’t deliver in this area the way the store owner or a seasoned manager can. 

Because of that, it is extremely important that employees are well trained in the critical areas that do make a difference to Loyalists. In future posts I will provide insight from our research that tested this theory and define what we call “the secret sauce.” 

Your turn

  • How important are strong personal relationships with your loyal customers? How do you know? 
  • What do you do to create strong relationships? 
  • What percentage of your Loyalist customers would tell their neighbors they shop with you because they have a strong personal relationship with your store?

See the previous post in this series: How Do You Know If Your Service is Superior?

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