The Importance of Customer Relationships

“The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.” -Johnny Joyce

Around six months ago our world, as we knew it, changed. We are all intimately familiar with the reasons our corporate communication landscape has been indefinitely altered. A digital-first communication approach has always been inevitable, but these unprecedented times have forced an expedited adoption, kind of like when g-ma had to get on “the Facebook” to catch up with her grandkids. The early adopters, who intentionally develop ways to digitally communicate while still maintaining a relational focus, will stand out from those hesitant to do so. Carpe Diem.

When we look at how companies grow, ultimately their success depends on the emphasis put in how relationships are developed and cultivated. This principle isn’t new, in fact, it’s always been the cornerstone for business development. If a genuine relationship exists, the probability of a transactional exchange is drastically increased.

Whether it’s networking through events or meeting with new prospects and current customers through other avenues of in-person mingling, ultimately these are merely platforms used to create, foster, and build relationships. As networking has shifted into digital conferences and meetings, brands will need to be more intentional leading up to each one.

Spending more time prepping beforehand may take a bit to get used to, it’s definitely not like the old school, cold calling days. Those were the days of simply picking up the phone hoping to nail the sale right off the backs of winging it. Putting in the time upfront to cultivate a relationship is worth it in the long run. It’s about the relationship today, the sale tomorrow.

When it comes to the customer relationship, treating people the way they want to be treated matters. It comes down to the fact that good human relation skills equals good customer relations. The way you treat your current customers, as well as your prospective ones, maybe the key to differentiating your business from the competition. Staying in touch and communicating with customers is an important action that ought not to be taken lightly. From the moment a customer makes contact, to “the all-important follow-ups,” having a relational and on-target conversation can go a long way in creating a new business BFF and make an impact in retaining customers.

At the center of every healthy relationship are 5 key areas shared between the parties involved:

1. Honesty

When it comes to our relationships, having open and honest communication is necessary to create a healthy, sustainable partnership. Honesty is the quality of always speaking the truth and being totally authentic, straightforward, and transparent in our words and actions. It involves a few key practices: never lying, never hiding the truth, and never purposefully omitting or misdirecting people from the truth. Honesty is the foundation for trust in a relationship, and trust is necessary for a relationship to function and thrive. When you’re always honest with someone, it tells them that they can trust you and the things you say. It helps them know they can believe your promises and commitments. Yes, honesty is 100% the right thing to do every single time.

2. Clear Communication

Every aspect of a company or brand depends on clear communication with their customers and just as necessary with potential customers. Effective business communication is the foundation of good business practice. Remember to keep the lines of communication open and your company will thrive.

3. Quality Time

Customers will be more comfortable continuing to use your business if they feel they know you personally. This is possible by asking questions, receiving feedback, and remembering specials occasions. Social media has made it possible to quickly connect with a customer and build a relationship. Spending quality time reaching out and being intentional will create loyal customers.

4. Respect

Respect in business means acknowledging the needs and feelings of those involved with your business. With genuine respect, you pay attention to your employees, customers, and partner needs without them having to remind you. In his January 2011 Inc.com article, “How to Build Better Business Relationships,” Darren Dahl shares an example of a business person surprised to find a supplier unwilling to help him when he calls for a favor after going a long period with no contact. Showing sincere interest and concern in business relationships establishes respect and tends to serve you better when you have needs.

5. Consistency

By focusing on consistency within your business, you can help to ensure that your customers understand who you are, what your focus is, and how your products can help them. Consistency across all platforms of your day-to-day operations will lead to healthy relationships with partners, customers, and employees.

Relationship building is both a science and an art. It requires focus. It requires being genuine. It requires an understanding of people, but above all, it requires a true desire to help others. It’s not about the platforms we use, but rather the why and how we use them.