Three “Be’s” to Better Customer Relations

Business leaders obsess over quarterly results. Gotta make those numbers. So emphasis is placed on getting new orders and booking sales.  Makes sense.  But sometimes the teams get so fixated on getting new customers they spend less time and attention on current customers.

In one of those counter-intuitive situations, the path to greatest business growth could be through improving relations with current customers.  It’s more cost-effective and better for your reputation to keep them happy than always chasing after someone new.  Like the words of Texas football coaches and Country Western songs, “Dance with who brung ya.”

I believe there are three things business people should “Be” to keep customers happy:

1. Be there when they need you

In business and life, things happen.  Parts break.  Schedules get messed up.  Payments are late.  People get ill.  Teams don’t follow instructions.  These should be your problems, not your customer’s.  Customers really don’t care how tough it is to service their contracts.  And when things go wrong they want to talk with someone about it.  Immediately.  If you’re a customer responsible for a contract, whether it involves the company printers or a satellite launch, it’s comforting to know there’s always a responsible provider counterpart available 24/7 to get things fixed.  That kind of customer attention builds trust and loyalty and gets you referrals and more business.

2. Be reliable in keeping your promises

What happens in the mind of a customer when you promised them something and forgot to follow up?  They put you in the same category as all the other people in their lives who’ve let them down.  And once you’re in that box, it takes a lot of time and effort to crawl out.  Let’s say the customer mentioned something to you about a service problem.  You said you’d check it out and get back to them.  It meant looking up some technical details and talking with a couple of other people in your organization.  Then life got in the way.  Ruptured travel plans.  New directions from the boss.  The floorboard of your vintage 1973 Chevrolet Vega finally rusted through.  And you were surprised when your customer announced they were not renewing the contract.

3. Be easy to do business with

It’s pretty simple.  If your company provides unique products and services, customers will come to you.  If they have other options, you need to go to them.  Remember there are two components of customer satisfaction: technical and emotional.  The customer buys your technical solution, yes.  But the customer first and foremost buys you.  And customers like doing business with people who are easy to do business with.  If you can establish easy customer relationships where there’s no drama (or tragicomedy) involved, you can move those customers up from being just satisfied with your work to not being able to imagine a world without you and your company in it.  Being easy to do business with is not as difficult as you might think.  It’s all in your head and heart, not your offering.

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