Interview with Christian Barbaray, author and expert in customer relationship

With his recently published book Satisfaction, fidélité et expérience client, Christian Barbaray CEO and founder of Init, agreed to present to us his perspective on customer relationship.


You revealed that it took you 2 years to write this book, it is available in bookstores for a few weeks, what new messages or new approaches do you want to convey? Why this book?

Satisfaction, fidélité et expérience client is an anniversary book. It marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of INIT and 6 years of my Sat & Fid blog. The idea was to consolidate, rectify, rewrite and organize concepts and blog posts in a single book. This book is not intended to explain how to make a customer survey, other studies covering this topic already exist, but to go further in the analysis. I give to the readers the necessary arguments to convince their leaders of the essential role of the customer experience in the profitability of their business and create clear links between customer satisfaction, loyalty and experience.

Who is responsible for customer satisfaction in a company?

These days, many services are in charge of the customer relationship in companies, as Quality for processes and standards, Marketing with a more strategic vision or Customer service which receives and manages the requests. We observe that, very often, each service has a partial vision. Yet now the customer is flexible, he’s interested in everything, he becomes involved, gets in touch with all service departments to receive an answer to his question, hence the need to create a true customer culture and make all services share the same vision of customer relationship.

And in your opinion, what role does the customer have in a company’s strategy?

This is the challenge of the customer experience, placing the customer at the center of the company! This customer experience approach forces the company to take a customer perspective, no longer designing its products or offers through personal processes or communication strategy, but adopting the customer’s point of view, discovering what he understands. The customer ensures the proper functioning of our business and that’s why we need to understand his needs and problems and permanently adapt the proper behaviors.


What do you mean by the statement “without communication, without relay, without sharing, your customer understanding approach is doomed to failure”? What do you recommend?

There are two types of surveys, the “cold” surveys, performed once a year, which assess the quality of provided service and the “hot” surveys, represented by mini questionnaires addressed right after an interaction or at a specific time of any product use. These operations of understanding generate information; the difficulty lies in transmitting and sharing the messages, indications and actions with all services. I think that this is the role of the customer care department which, by sharing this information, will place the customer back in the central place of the company. We all have to be at the customer’s service.

You mentioned that “a policy intended to preserve and increase its customer acquisitions will be more profitable over medium to long term”

Within the company’s strategies, the customer is often hunted, figuratively speaking, without working on customer loyalty at a later time; the companies want to win customers and they consider their policy as being customer-oriented, but I would like to ask them to what kind of customer is their strategy dedicated? A future one? The customer that you haven’t won yet or rather the one that you already have and need to retain? The leaders should question the economic impacts of loyalty: what will I gain by improving loyalty and satisfaction of my customers instead of recruiting new ones? In some business sectors, the customers are very hard to acquire, so letting them go because of a poor service quality, lack of attention or poor relationship is a real disaster for the operation accounts, which is regrettable!

If you could give 3 advices to a company that wishes to adopt a customer loyalty policy, what would they be?

First of all, equip your company with a proper tool to listen to your customers. Listening allows you to better understand what is behind the words, emotions and intentions. Then, share the problems with relevant persons within the company and find solutions together. Furthermore, you should raise awareness among your managers and department heads of the economic impact of the customer loyalty; they need to understand what is the ROI of a customer-oriented company. In INIT, we conduct more and more surveys that show the profit of customer loyalty for a company, especially in terms of sales potential. The last and most important advice, implement a customer culture. Make all share the same values and the same convictions. The customer is the most important element of a company, he is in the center of all our actions, we set up challenges, share ambitions and metrics, all in the field of customer loyalty.


How can I help my customer grow? How can I assist him in this growth? By adapting this kind of attitude, you will watch your company grow as well.