The Importance of Customer Relationships

Have you ever had a customer vanish without a trace?  One day he was there, and the next you can’t even get him to return a call or email?  You’re left wondering if he stopped needing your product or service, or whether he’s gone to a competitor.  Was it an issue with your price, a service concern, did he move to China, was it your breath?  Chances are a lack of a real relationship was the culprit.  Sales and management folks – this message is for you.

Unfortunately, we often make the mistake of relying on our product or service to represent us and maintain our connection with the customer.  After the sale, we forget that maintenance is still required.  The belief in and love for our product can also cloud our judgment about its level of perfection and cause us to miss subtle imperfections that the customer experiences.  The problem with this is that the customer is fickle without the added value of a relationship.  Without one, the organization becomes disposable to the customer.

 

Ask yourself:  what would happen if my competitor walked into my client’s office and offered the same service at the same price?  If you’re not sure, you have work to do.  If your client would call you and tell you about it, you’ve mastered this.  Here is some food for thought:

  1. It’s harder to fire someone you like!  Service concerns and business hiccups happen; it’s inevitable.  However, a good relationship will open up a dialogue instead of allowing the door slam shut.  If it is easy for them to walk away, you haven’t established your value or your relationship.
  1. The customer is more loyal – it’s as simple as that.  Why would they shop around and try someone else on for size when they have such a perfect fit with you?  You’re service is not a commodity when it has a face.
  1. Pricing is less important.  If a competitor is priced slightly lower, it won’t phase the customer one bit.  You won’t lose them over a few bucks because you have added value that justifies your price.
  1. The customer is more likely to become a raving, evangelistic fan of your organization when you’ve established a relationship with them!  With this comes easy business and warm leads directly to your sales funnel!

In business, a strong relationship means that there is a face and a name with your product or service.  You have listened to needs and found ways to solve problems for your customer through your services.  You have communicated your value proposition and introduced them to your industry and the unique ways that your organization can tailor a fit to meet their requirements.  You’ve also made an effort to know a few things about them personally and you always keep in touch after the sale.

I have been on both sides of this.  I’ve felt the pain that comes with underestimating the power of relationships, and I’ve built lasting foundations after learning the hard way.  Do you have a great story about how a strong relationship saved a customer or account?  Please share!

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