customer business relationship advice

Customer-Business Relationship Advice

It’s Not You, It’s Me is our once-a-year advice column for the lovelorn, betrayed and eternally searching for that special customer-business relationship.

The chief columnist, Dr. Q, is a world-renowned expert in the field of business love-ology and a holder of a prestigious MBLA (Master in Business Love and Affection) degree*.

Dr. Q welcomes letters about every kind of love issues, from dealing with other customers, breaking up, or gluing your heart back together again. Scars from ruined relationships are the antithesis of scabs — you have to pick at them to make them feel better.

So let’s get healing!

* NB: degree not recognized by government bodies, international organizations or anyone, really.

improve customer business relationship


Hi Dr. Q,

Stumbled across your website as I was looking for advice on how to handle a new relationship. I’ve just gotten over a horrible breakup with the previous “for-life” brand, and I want you to shine some light on a couple of things.

So, the previous company, I thought we had it really sweet. I was told I was “the most important customer”, and I was happy enough to believe it. Personal promotions, special offers — I’ve got the full package, and more!

But over time, I realized this business wasn’t interested in me as a person; it just wanted my money. Too many signs to count, but here’s one: I received a letter from them and then noticed it was addressed to dozens other people too — “important customers”, just like me!

I’ve just been too blind not to see it sooner. I’ve summoned enough willpower to break things off. I felt bad about it at the time, like I was the villain, but I’ve gotten over it.

And now there’s this new business that piqued my interest. It’s got the same thing going for it: it promises me new experiences, it gushes over my taste and says I’m a “very special kind of customer”.

My problem is that I feel like I haven’t learned from my mistakes and may be bound for the same relationship pitfalls. I guess I’m afraid of getting burned again.

What’s your take on it? Should I assume a more cynical approach to customer-business relationship?




Dear Alan,

It’s not selfish to wish the best service for yourself, but you have to understand that you’re not the only customer they have, no matter what they’ve been telling you. It’s just the way these things work, for better or for worse.

Don’t kick yourself for being, as you put it, “too blind” or naive. In fact, it’s refreshing to see such a sincere, bright-eyed customer.

Stay yourself, experiment, find what’s working for you, and don’t listen to anyone else.

Keep lovin’!

Dr. Q

improve customer business relationship


Hey Dr. Q,

I don’t want to take too much of your time. I’m sure you’ve heard it about a trillion times now.

So my deal is, there’s this retail business I’ve been seeing for some time now. I was not looking for a new relationship, but it seems to be going that way. I’m not really opposed to it, either. In fact, I find we’re quite compatible.

But how do I know this is “the one”?

I’m trying to feel the butterflies in my stomach, but I don’t feel anything, really. I’m not feeling compelled to tell anyone about my new relationship and I don’t think about this business much when we’re not together.

Is this normal? Am I just not a romantic kind of guy? It seems like a good business, but is it good enough for me to tie the knot?




Dear M.,

Who told you you’re in a rush? Take things as slow as you see fit. Look around, analyze, compare and decide things for yourself.

The truth is, there’s no such thing as monogamy when it comes to customer-business relationships. Don’t become one of these people who are ready to forgive any and all misgivings as long as it’s their favorite brand.

Don’t let anything cloud your better judgement.

Keep lovin’!

Dr. Q

improve customer business relationship


Dr. Q, I need you help!

A little about myself: I was once a popular target audience who would turn the heads of all kinds of stores, new and old. I’ve been getting tons of newsletters and emails urging me to join their customer base, and I never did.

With time, I’ve gotten less and less of attention. Before I realized it, I was left with only one choice, so I took it.

It was fine at first, I couldn’t complain. A true gentleman of a company. But a few weeks in, something happened. One moment, they promise me mountains of golds. A moment later, I feel lonely and ignored.

There are long periods of time when I don’t hear a single thing from them. It’s been over a week since the last email, and it was a bone-dry letter about their new features. I can respect introverted companies, and I wouldn’t call myself an outgoing gal either, but I want some certainty for once.

I know their phone number, but should I be the first to call — or call at all? Maybe this business is “leading me on”? (I feel like I’m puking just from writing that sentence!)

Perhaps I’m too paranoid. Do we continue on as we are? Should I just settle down?




Dear Meredith,

I think you using the word “settle” is quite telling. The problem with the concept of “settling down” is that you sell yourself short.

You’re not getting any attention because you yourself aren’t actively looking for it. There are so many apps which could help find you a better happy-ever-after.

Excuse me for using such an old cliche, but there’s a lot of fish in the ocean. Don’t be too afraid to cast your net and see what you catch.

Keep lovin’!

Dr. Q

improve customer business relationship


Hey Dr. Q,

Long story short, I reconnected with an ex-favorite company over the last few days. I’m conflicted over what I’m feeling. Am I too forgiving?

It’s been a long relationship, so it goes without saying that we’ve had many highs and lows. I haven’t forgotten about the latter, but the former outshine everything in my mind.

I’m afraid I’m making a textbook mistake, but I just can’t help it.

Maybe you can.



Dear Tony,

As I don’t know the full history of your relationship, I’m limited to giving you the following boilerplate advice:

There’s nothing bad about casual experiences, as long as both sides know what they’re in for. Figure out the degrees of casualness through your own feelings and experiences.

If you’re willing to overlook some faults, perhaps you’ve never broken things off in the first place?

Keep lovin’!

Dr. Q

improve customer business relationship


Dear Dr. Q,

I’ve been with this one company for more than a decade. There’s been a few things between us that didn’t exactly work, but I was quick to ignore or forgive them.

Fast forward to this weekend, and I met a new brand through some mutual acquaintances. It’s been a wonderful shopping experience — everything I’d want out of a retail store, really — and I felt myself falling for it pretty hard.

I now fantasize about this other brand ALL THE TIME. I am a generally loyal person, so I was shocked to learn this fact about myself. I never took myself for a cheater.

Oh god, am I turning into my dad? He’s always been talking about his loyalty to that one store (he was subscribed to their newsletter and everything), but one day I saw him at another place, hands full of shopping bags and beaming a smile.

All because they promised him special discounts!

He kept this relationship secret, and whenever he was out of town, I knew he was going to his other store. I never told a single soul about it before now, but this thought had stayed with me my whole life. I swore to myself that I would never grow into that kind of person, but I guess I still have?

I feel horrible, but that’s not the worst part. There’s a side of me that says that if I do something wrong but feel bad afterwards, then it’s all good. It’s like I’m trying to compromise with my own conscience.

The longer I wait, the more fantasies I keep having about this other brand. I think I’m reaching a breaking point. Should I simply give in to this temptation or try to sort through my feelings, openly and honestly?




Dear Stan,

It’s obvious that you take your customer-business relationships very seriously. But perhaps a nudge too seriously?

There’s no such thing as brand police, and trust me, you’re not getting detained for experimenting with your experiences as a customer. If you can’t stay loyal, you don’t have to.

It’s obvious that there are things that your current company of choice is lacking. You have to tell them about it; it’s the right thing to do. Open communication is the foundation of good customer service.

But, you’re not obligated to stay with them after all of that. If what you’re telling is true, you’ve been super loyal so far, and you have nothing to blame yourself for.

Hope you can find your happiness again!

Keep lovin’!

Dr. Q

improve customer business relationship


Dr. Q,

There’s this business, let’s call it “Danielle”. We’ve been in a sort-of-casual relationship for almost half a year now.

It’s going well, for the most part. Except for one small but annoying thing — “DANIELLE”. IS. SO. OVERBEARING.

Endless emails, tweets, calls, newsletters, popups, etcetera etcetera. I’m not an aloof person, I swear it, but everyone has their limits. I simply want some space!

And the worst part, “Danielle” keeps on pushing! It now wants me to like its Facebook page, follow its Instagram and Twitter, and even tell my parents and friends about it. It’s all going too fast, and I’m just not ready for this kind of commitment.

Am I being too selfish? Does this make me a bad customer? I’m scared that the spark isn’t strong enough.




Dear J.,

Personal boundaries are nothing to be ashamed of. You’re the customer, you should be the one in control of how fast you want this thing to progress.

You’re not obligated to leave likes, subscribe to newsletters or even write reviews if you don’t feel like it, simply because you’re their customer.

I hate to play a couch psychoanalytic, but overprotectiveness may hint at some form of insecurity on their part. They shouldn’t be afraid of losing you, especially not when the worst thing you’d do is not follow their social media.

You’re your own man (or gal, it’s not clear from your initial). Think of what’s best for you!

Keep lovin’!

Dr. Q


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