“If people like you, they will listen to you. If people trust you, they will do business with you.” - Zig Zigler
Healthy Customer Relationships have these 6 things in common:
- Effective Communication
- Mutual Respect
- Transparent Honesty
- Open Collaboration
- A (reasonable) willingness to compromise
Most people can acknowledge a good thing when they see it. That is, we can largely describe what a healthy, functional relationship looks like, or should feel like. However, fewer people understand what they can do to contribute to creating a successful dynamic. Building business relationships, or relationships period, takes work. Companies and client-facing individuals have to focus not only on how they’re showing up but also on how they’re moving the needle forward to further the connection.
Here are the steps companies should be taking to build positive customer relationships:
- Understand your role. People come to you or should come to you because of a need that your product or service is covering. Remember that! Make sure that you maintain their needs at the forefront of the relationship. There is a difference between a customer relationship and a partnership. Not every customer is a partner. You can have successful relationships with customers, without them being at a partner level.
- Be consistent. On the whole, humans are not known for being ultra-adaptive. We crave routine, predictability and safety. Some of us love the thrill of the unknown, but most like to know what they’re going to get when they expect to get it. Companies should establish a predictable cadence so that consumers can classify where you fit in their mind. Company behavior should establish a tonal norm to help establish and reaffirm trust.
- Listen. No one wants a relationship that isn’t a two-way street. If you have a phone line, but no one ever answers it, or a ‘contact us’ form submission that is a dead end; you aren’t doing your part. Every connection point is an opportunity to either strengthen or chip away at the integrity of your customer relationship.
- Communicate how they prefer. People have different communication styles. This is most identifiable based on personality type, but also regional and generational demographics. Know your audience. Pay attention to HOW and WHERE people are engaging with you and make sure that you’re staffing, automating or optimizing that experience appropriately.
- Ask for feedback. Consumers love when things improve. Culturally in the US, we love it when the underdog wins. We love a good success story. Rarely do companies knock it out of the park without iterating and improving. Remember that you can’t learn from the questions that you’re afraid to ask. Be respectful, but bold. If someone leaves, ask them why. You cannot learn from what you do not acknowledge. Treat every customer with equal curiosity.
- Deliver. Companies who do what they say that they will do will find success. Show up as promised. Delight when you’re able. Make it right when something goes wrong. In a digital age where word of mouth travels faster than ever, inauthenticity and misrepresentation will not go unnoticed. Be sure that your word, your brand promise, your product or your process is aligned with the pain point you’re claiming to solve. Companies who rise do so because their brands are able to stand and deliver.
How do you establish strong customer relationships? One affirming step at a time.