Breadth can’t Replace Depth in human relationships or client loyalty
Last night I was out with a group of women I met online at Twitter and through the Seattle Social/Digital/Tech community. Mid way through the evening I found myself talking to one of my new friends, Leann Underwood an International Project Engineer at Microsoft about Umair Haque’s recent post ( The Social Media Bubble).
Leann and I’s conversation zigged and zagged. We talked about a lot of what I’ve previously ruminated over in my post Harmonizing Online with In Real Life. During our time together we stumbled across a statement that stuck, a frame of sorts that we believe is the truth about online relationships, “Breadth can’t replace depth.”
This frame, I believe is true of online connections, inter personal relationships and customer loyalty.
I could never have met so many fascinating people if I didn’t have social tools that offer unlimited access to connect with others who aren’t in my neighborhood, a part of my circle of influence, or who have careers, interests that keep them busy in places I never venture. I couldn’t find those people who have similar affinities but who are scattered across different industries and located across the globe. The breadth and diversity of my connections, contacts, network and data base has exploded thanks to social media/digital technology and platforms.
That being said ‘access’ and ‘connection’ alone does not convert automatically into any sort of true value in the form of valuable relationships or client loyalty. Anyone can read an article, click ‘follow’ or ‘friend’. What’s the value of 1, 20, 3 million new followers, friends or first time visitors to your business if they’re nothing more than that- unengaged numbers and non returning clients.
Whereas social/digital tools and networks have created breadth and diversity in the connections, associations and friendships I now have. It’s the investments in reaching out to meet in real life to go deeper that is leading to valuable relationships in my personal and professional life. Its what I choose or don’t choose to do with the breadth of possibility that social technology affords me that offers my life the greatest value.
Every time something valuable has resulted from a digital online experience it’s because of the depth and investment I made or someone else made after the initial on line connection.
‘Breadth can’t replace depth’ is also true in regards to customer satisfaction, loyalty and service. I was thinking back to my days of co-0wning a company serving over 25,000 clients a week. The average client frequented our business 9-10 times a year, referred at least 10 others and remained a loyal client ( if we did our job well) on average for 9 to 11 years!
Client loyalty was dependent on the depth, quality of our knowing and serving. Loyal clients, satisfied clients, clients that write reviews and share your story are clients who have received real value from you, not people who are merely connected to you or know of you. Value is driven through going deep, digging in, investing resources and time in the age ole art of knowing and relating.
Service. Engagement. Client satisfaction. Friendships. Relationships. A process of moving from unknown to known, from mere meeting to adding value. From name recognition to service. From connection to engagement. From access and awareness to giving and receiving.
So my take is there is incredible value in new technology and the social/digital world, but all the technology in the world is no replacement for investing time and resources to develop deep, thick, real relationships where people receive what they want and need and lives are enhanced.
Breadth it can’t replace depth when it comes to creating valuable human relationships.
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