The Manhattan Transfer’s Janis Siegel has the answer. Who knew?

By Rob Kinslow, Senior Strategist, Brand Communication

I’ve long been a fan of The Manhattan Transfer, the vocal quartet founded back in 1969 that’s covered everything from doo-wop to bebop to rock to gospel to, most recently, the genre-bending music of Chick Corea. Given that the current lineup of the group has been together for more than 30 years, I was interested to read what Janis Siegel, the group’s alto since 1972, said in a Boston Globe interviewabout what’s changed over the years.

“I think we’ve become like an old married couple,” Siegel said. “In other words, we accept things about each other now. And we’ve learned by much trial-and-error and out-and-out fighting how to talk to each other. Because you’ve got four people here with different backgrounds, different creative mindsets, different personal lives, and we’re coming together in this creative and business enterprise.”

Now, I’m not about to suggest that the best customer relationships are like that of an old married couple, although given that half of all marriages end in divorce, it’s hard to argue with that kind of success. But I do subscribe to the notion that in order to be successful long-term, medical device companies should learn not only how to talk to their customers, but how their customers prefer to talk to them. How to talk to each other.

Because great customer communication isn’t a one-way street, it’s two-way. And you’re dealing with, as Siegel put it, “different backgrounds, different creative mindsets, different personal lives.” How well do you really know your customers? You may know what they need in terms of a new product or service. But what are they really thinking? And what do they want from you besides a great product? Excellent training? Continuing education opportunities?

How about random acts of attention? A gentleman I know named Craig, who’s been married to the same woman for 46 years, told me the other day that they never celebrate Valentine’s Day, but that “I buy her flowers and jewelry whenever I feel like it.” I’ll bet his wife feels valued throughout the year and not just on that Feb. 14 Hallmark holiday.

Where do you start in trying to build a long-term relationship? How about sharing this page with a customer (or colleague) you’ve had communication challenges with and add a note? If you scroll over Share below, you’ll be offered your choice of more than 230 ways to forward this blog. Whether it’s Digg, Facebook or other share-ware, you only need to find one that’s right for both of you. Then you can start coming together in this creative and business enterprise called medical device marketing. Maybe even for the long haul.