If you’re in business to make money, grow and succeed…and aren’t all business people…you don’t simply want satisfied customers. You want loyal customers who will refer you to others, stick by you as you both grow and change, and who will become adjunct members of your marketing team.
Having solid customer relationships is one of the strongest assets any company could own.
Since 1947, our company has worked diligently to build solid relationships with each of our customers. We’d like to say that over the years every relationship has been strong, long-standing, and committed. That would be nice, but it’s not realistic. Businesses and people change. Problems arise. Even the most committed relationship can end.
What we’ve learned from the many customer relationships that have lasted is that these five behaviors are always present.
1. Go beyond
Our company sells staffing services. People. Temporary employees. We provide peace of mind that our customers’ work will get done on time, correctly, within budget. But we go beyond the provision of able-bodied men and women who are willing to work. We share our insights and ideas about the world of work. We create customized processes and resources to meet the customer’s needs. We offer valuable third-party perspectives that our customers may not see because they’re too close to their own business. When a customer needs 10 people for a job, we recruit 15 in case a few of them don’t work out. In short, we go beyond the basics of the order. We care enough about our customers to treat their business like it was our own.
“The best feeling in the world is knowing you mean something to someone.” – Anonymous
2. Admit it when you mess-up.
We are not perfect. We make mistakes and occasionally cause problems. We are human and unlike some businesses, our product itself is humans. When a mistake happens, it’s on us to bring it up first, not hope that it won’t get noticed or that it will be swept under the rug. Admit your errors AND offer a solution or resolution. Right away. It’s hard to do, but we’ve found it will strengthen a relationship, not destroy it. And if a customer can’t accept that you occasionally mess-up, they’re probably not the kind of company you want to keep.
“Integrity is important in building relationships. And is the foundation upon which many other qualities for success are built, such as respect, dignity and trust.” – John C. Maxwell
Maybe you’ve heard the saying that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. At our company, we’ve learned over more than 70 years in business that the sweetest sound a customer can hear is your silent attention to what’s important to them. How can you truly serve your customer if you don’t know what they find meaningful or what their goals are? How can you build a relationship without working to understand them as people, as business people, and as moms, dads, partners, and community members? Listening builds empathy. It helps us deliver better service to every customer.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”– Dale Carnegie
4. Celebrate together.
Victories large and small are worth celebrating. For businesses, these wins can be earning a new contract, completing an expansion project, or taking a new product from concept to market. For building the strongest customer relationships, celebrations can go even further. Did your customer’s child win their track meet or get accepted at their preferred university? Did their dog have puppies or did their house finally sell? When you listen and are interested in your customers as humans, you’ll be attuned to their life so that you can be with them to celebrate. Together. Even small gestures of recognition, like a phone call or email, go far. We’ve also learned that it’s important to grieve and commiserate with our customers when life throws a curveball.
“Little kindness and courtesies are so important. In relationships, the little things are the big things.”
– Stephen R. Covey
5. Trust one another.
This final tip shouldn’t be a surprise. Business relationships built on trust assume that everyone will do the right thing, that people will assume positive intent, and that folks will understand that we’re all just trying to get through the day. Yes, contracts and lawyers are important players in business relationships. But without trust as the foundation, there will be no relationship.
“If you respect the customer as a human being, and truly honour their right to be treated fairly and honestly, everything else is much easier.” – Doug Smith
Active Staffing is a family-owned business. It’s trite to say that we treat our customers like family, although we sometimes feel that way. We rely, instead, on these five beliefs that have helped us build strong, loyal relationships with our customers since 1947: go beyond, admit when you mess-up, listen, celebrate together, and trust one another.
We’d love to build a strong relationship with you and your business. Contact me personally and let’s talk. Benny Elzweig, Chief Operating Officer, 914-450-5690 or firstname.lastname@example.org.