The Four Stages of a Customer Relationship

In this excerpt from a session of the University of Florida and MECLABS Institute graduate certificate program, Flint McGlaughlin gives a brief recap of the four stages of the customer relationship: meet >> know >> trust >> agree.

He reminds us of the two critical moments in a relationship, the moment of initiation and the moment of culmination. In the moment of initiation, during the "meet" stage, you must capture the customer's attention and convert it to interest.

During the second stage of the customer relationship, the "know" stage, you work on developing trust with the customer. This is accomplished through a process called the "trust trial." Observations help the customer draw a conclusion that propels a decision to buy. From that decision comes an expectation and, hopefully, a favorable experience. Trust is built.

But there are three dangers to the process that you must avoid when developing customer trust. Watch the video to learn more about building positive relationships with your customers.

The dangers are very important because they are a way for you to take this and go back in your own work and prevent yourself from making critical mistakes.

– Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS Institute

This excerpt is from Session 5 of MMC5259: Customer Relationship and Effective Lead Management course. The full session aims to introduce students to the unique and unprecedented nature of the web and how it can be used as a living laboratory to study the cognitive decision process of our customers and predict their future behavior.


Flint McGlaughlin:  In front of you right now are the four stages in a relationship — to meet, to know, to trust, to agree. Now that's something you should be able to recall instantly, and it should sort of come natural because you can almost discern it from the logic of how relationships develop, but not just because you've heard it said in separate words. The connections between the concepts are natural.

So meet, know, trust, agree. Now, as you think about that, ask yourself, "What was the most important thing we learned about the meet juncture, the first stage? You'll notice that we described something called the “moment of initiation.” In fact, we said there were two critical moments in a relationship. Can you remember the second?

If you really step back and just think through the underlying rationale, it's pretty easy to discern that the two key moments in any relationship are the moment of initiation and the moment of culmination. So what you should remember, as you think back over what we've done together, is right now these four steps, and then we talked about the moment of initiation and the two key actions — capturing attention and converting attention to interest.

There are five steps in the trust trial — the observation, conclusion, decision, expectation and experience — and three dangers. Now the dangers are very important because they're a way for you to take this and go back in your own work and prevent yourself from making critical mistakes. If you learn these and if you work with these in the exercises coming up, you're going to be much more effective going forward.

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