Relationship Building in Islamic Business

Relationship marketing has been around (in brand marketing) for quite some time. Technology has aided in enabling huge progress in developing customised brand offers and providing rewarding brand experiences. Is there a lesson in this for the individual as well as the organisation?

As a marketeer, and as a Muslim, I often look at the Islamic financial products that are offered. And as the agent/sales person/product developer (you name it!!) speaks, I wonder in amazement why is it that they are not asking me what I need?And why are they not clarifying what I ask them. Maybe I’m not a Hi Net Worth (HNW) customer. I’m just one of the, average, many potential customers. And yet, time and again, I’ve not found explanations or details answering my queries. Infact I’ve never even been entertained as to what I want. Just “here’s a fabulous product. Oh! it’s sharia compliant and you should look at it!”

To cut a long story short, I’ve always left (these types of insurance, Islamic Finance investment product discussions/meet ups) feeling that:

A) The guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
B) They are still charging “interest”- just ‘disguising’ it with jargon
C) What am I getting out of it?

It’s the last query that’s intrigued me! So to check, I went around my friends, family, associates, colleagues… Muslims and non-Muslims. To my surprise, the majority response I got was–” hey they are all the same. Just want your money and then they forget you”! And this response made me sit up and wonder…

Why is it that there is no focus on the customer benefit?

Consider this scenario:
1. A sales person, knowledgeable and understanding the philosophy of his brand and the intention (objective), starts a dialogue with a potential client. In time he understands his client’s financial needs and advises (just like financial planners do for HNW individuals) accordingly and then “pushes” the products.

2. Through this period, the sales person provides information on the customer’s financial status and needs to product developers. This would enable the product developers to develop, customised products for that customer. Which then the sales person would have no problem in “selling” as it would answer the needs of the customer.

3. Additionally through this period, “trust” has been established between the sales person and the customer. Based on this trust and a customised solution, the customer makes the first value contribution to the brand (and the organisation) ie:transaction takes place.

Once the first transaction has taken place, its a matter of time before that trust delivers more and more value to the brand (and in turn to the organisation). Resulting in a profitable and respected brand. A brand with whom the customer wants to continue having a strong relationship as he finds “value” (of the advise and of customised products).

Now, imagine just 10 (for simplicity and example purposes) such strong relationships! The monetary and emotional value would be of huge benefit to an organisation. Not to mention the referrals that such customers would give which would add to the organisation having good, quality customer base.