While relationships and connections permeate every aspect of the human experience, somehow when we sit behind our desk or at the computer, we forget that these remain relevant throughout the business environment. We become myopic in front of our ever-growing business goals and somewhere down the road we realize that having a good product or service is simply not enough. It might get you in the door, but it may not get you an invitation to visit back. Subsequently, it’s important to understand how and why managing your relationships is important from the beginning.
Looking for customer satisfaction, companies have gone to great lengths to create insightful and comprehensive customer journeys, where every transaction and point of contact is clearly mapped, tracked, and measured. Creating digital experiences has enabled and streamlined customer decision making and yet, in the B2B arena, an extraordinary amount of the process is still carried out through good old human interaction. It’s not about a mere transaction anymore, as it never is in these cases.
If everything else remains equal between you and your competitors, but you’ve diligently built a great relationship with your customer, then you most definitely have a competitive advantage in your hands. Therefore, do not disregard it or take it for granted. Harness it, build it, and nourish it.
For all of you that hold, or have held, customer facing roles, you probably understand that paying lip service and flattery will simply not cut it. It is not about that.
Trust is the name of the game. So, remember:
Listen to your customers, only then you will be able to really understand them, to learn their pain points and needs. Really, listen actively and forget about all the things you think they want to hear. Just have a conversation, they are people too.
Learn from them and remember it’s OK to admit when you don’t know - honesty and humility will get you a long way. So, be open to feedback and act on it.
It’s OK to say no. It’s better to set clear expectation from the beginning, than to not follow through on what was promised. You cannot expect your customer to trust you if you aren’t open and transparent.
As in any other kind of relationship, this one will also require some give and take. Therefore, make your customers part of your growth. If you are developing a new product, let them take a peak and offer their opinion. If you have learned something that you know will interest them, share it with them. Sharing your expertise and knowledge will only help you build thought leadership and help keep you top of mind for them.
Becoming a true partner will require that you go the extra mile, not because you have to, but because you can.
In a globalized world, being mindful of cultural differences is a must have in your tool kit. It is OK if you don’t really know what is appropriate and what is not. Do not be afraid to ask your customer; they will appreciate your thoughtfulness and gladly steer you in the right direction.
Be patient. Great things take time and gaining your customer’s trust will certainly take some. Enjoy the ride and bring your most authentic self forward.
Building lasting customer relationships is something that you don’t want to leave up to chance. A well-managed customer relationship is a win-win situation that will help you keep your customer acquisition costs down; because as we know, it’s much cheaper to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one. Additionally, your actions will impact your customer’s satisfaction and at the end of the day, and when managed correctly, you will have made an advocate out of your customer as well. These skills are not exclusive to sellers or account managers, or already-perfected by ‘engageable extroverts’. So, are you and your team customer ready?
Do you have any tips for having the best customer relationships possible? Tell us about them in the comments below!