There is a dangerous habit of confusing client/customer satisfaction with meaningful client commitment. This is not helped by the fact that many of the evaluation tools in this space are described as ‘client satisfaction studies’.

In truth client satisfaction can simply be a measure of short term performance or the absence of any major negatives; it generally runs the risk of not providing a robust view of where things really stand.

Genuine commitment, on the other hand, defines a state of being where a client/customer will genuinely seek out extra business to give you, will be less price sensitive, will be more trusting and enjoyable to work with and, most important of all, will recommend you to others.

It is therefore a style of relationship much more associated with real bankable value and confirms that turning prospects into customers into advocates lies at the heart of creating a successful business.

But even where the importance of relationship optimisation is accepted, there can be a reluctance to subject the key relationships to the kind of sensitive, sensible, independent scrutiny which can help stimulate the desired level of commitment, beyond mere satisfaction.

This intervention, from experienced relationship experts asking the right questions, of the right people, at the right time, in the right way, can make the difference, bringing all important objectivity.

There are immediate benefits for businesses which already prioritise establishing and nurturing relationships. And for others, who may not have been able to train their client/customer facing teams or may have yet to realise the power of relationships, the results can be transformational.

The new breed of digital/technology businesses can provide examples of the latter group.

But as with all markets, only companies with a truly customer-centric approach, and fully-functioning relationships, will make the leap from good to great.