Organizations have come a long way in cultivating relationships as a way to make customer connections and to make the business seem more intimate instead of overwhelming. Car dealers let you schedule service appointments with a specific service advisor. Banks offer personal bankers for their clients. Veterinary practices allow you to have repeat visits with the same doctor. Universities pair students with life coaches that follow them through their educational journey.
While each service professional may have dozens or even hundreds of clients, that one-to-one relationship makes it feel more comfortable. It’s nice to recognize a face or have someone understand the backstory without having to repeat it each time.
The downside of this arrangement is that people become attached to their “person” and when someone leaves an organization there is a loss that is not felt in a generic environment.
If you adopt the relationship model, invest in the care it takes for it to work in the long term. Require ongoing documentation so the history is not lost. Provide transition time with the incoming employee if possible. Tend to the relationship by notifying the customer of the change and sharing a personal profile of their new person. Recognize that there could be some emotion attached to the departure. (My main contact recently resigned, and I was truly sad to see her go.) Assure people that their service will continue as it has in the past.
Having a dedicated contact can result in positive and continued business, but the severing of that relationship can also leave people feeling untethered. Don’t take those connections lightly.