February 2, 2024

New Year’s Resolution: Invest in Relationships

By: Marisa Ricciardi


This article was originally published in MediaPost.

Every business leader wants to know more about artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning and how they can drive efficiency and insight for their company — from understanding customer sentiment to developing responsive, optimized messaging more easily and creating faster routes to visualizing ideas.

I am all for utilizing the latest tech tools and prototyping how to make our business run more efficiently, and using AI for functions that are of lower value and not time-sensitive.

But we must remain mindful of the big, blank space — the space AI attempts to mimic but that it can never replace: human relationships and authentic connections.

The Resurgence of Tangibility in a Digital Era

We all spend more time staring at screens than at our surroundings. The more immersed we are in digital worlds, the hungrier we are for IRL experiences with people.

That is why for every trend that hinges on the latest technology, a counter-trend seems to emerge.
Consider this:

  • As digital media has enabled POVs to be shared on demand and at scale, business leaders are returning to print as the most trustworthy medium.

  • As consumer brands grow themselves nearly overnight on social-media platforms, they also embrace the media of the past — catalogs, for example — to create more tangible experiences.

  • While unlimited playlists are available on our smartphones, cassettes have been revived, enabling us to embrace the feeling of sharing that comes with passing along a one-of-a-kind mixtape.

  • Even as conferences and business travel are seeing a post-pandemic comeback, smaller and more intimate meetings are the order of the day, as conference goers care more about connection and learning through storytelling versus large-scale conventions featuring breakout sessions and PowerPoint presentations.

  • Remote work is clearly here to stay, but most offices have opted for a hybrid format, enabling those who are fully remote to feel less isolated and to connect with people and spaces that inspire.

Relationships are Gold in Business Strategy

I have long believed that relationships are gold. Keeping that top of mind, I feel, gives our customers an advantage.

In the coming year, I believe this will prove to be more valuable than ever. We could be headed for a gold rush as companies seek to tap the relationship vein to enable real growth.

Forging deep connections starts with being deeply reflective about the customer’s journey and every touchpoint in our client relationships.

When we take inventory of these touchpoints, it’s easy to pinpoint the areas that have been well-nurtured and heavily invested in.

But when we look more closely, we sometimes discover touchpoints that have been neglected or overlooked entirely.

These blind spots present opportunities to strengthen our relationships, forge deeper connections, and develop loyalty that will last far beyond 2024.

The financial-services industry uses indexes to represent a segment of the market and tracks those indexes to gauge market movement. I believe we should track client relationships like we track a market index.

Are we outperforming or underperforming our own relationship index? Crucially, we must track the status of each customer relationship at every step along the way, to ensure the client is being served as it expects and to ensure our commitment to results.

Find the areas in your relationships that you — and especially your competitors — have taken for granted, and take a moment to channel into them your unique voice, sense of creativity, and human care. Sometimes, simply feeling seen can produce the most impactful ROI of all.

As we embark on what is sure to be another year full of uncertainty and rapid change, we should all resolve to invest in relationships and relational organizing — or harnessing our relationships to effect change — at the top of our list of priorities.

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