Lessons for Building Friendships in Business for Great Customer Service

By Justin Hitt, Strategic Relations Consultant, https://iunctura.com/

Think about your best customers ... now think about your worst customers ... some people say it can be difficult to build friendships in business considering some of the experiences you may have had with irritating customers. Difficult people are everywhere. Of course, building friendships in business does not have to be that hard. Here are 9 lessons in three categories, that may be useful for building friendships in your business.

A. Be in business for the long term

  1. The lifetime value of a customer: When measuring success with your customers, look at the lifetime value of the individual. Know that in the beginning you may not earn much from them, but over time know exactly what each customer is worth. In the same vein if they are worth a million dollars, treat them like that from transaction number one -- keeping that customer for an entire buying cycle will eventually bring you their full worth.
  2. Treat them as if you will see them again: If you do your job right, you will have to see them again and it should be pleasurable because they might be returning for another purchase. Even if you have a one shot sale, make the experience one that invites them back for more. You never know when your customer may recommend your products or services to another in their peer group.
  3. Your customer portfolio: Many businesses see every customer as having an equal value, and generally, they do. However, just like our social friends we like some more than others -- in business the reasons may or may not be the same. In business (and personal life too) if a single friend is not performing you need to remove them before they spoil the whole batch.

B. Treat each customer as an individual

  1. The one-to-one experience: Even when you are dealing with a board who will approve purchases with your company, you still need to interact with each member according to their own individual needs. Its human nature for each of us to have our own opinions and free will, in business you must respect those aspects of your customers. You do not have to agree with who they are, but you need to treat them as an individual capable of making their own decisions.
  2. Generating win-win situations: If ever time, you went out with your friends they trashed your car and made you pay for all the entertainment, would you keep hanging out with them. Probably not, the same goes for business, seek the most beneficial arrangement for both you and your customer. Don't take advantage of your customer because if you do, one day they will leave you.
  3. The quality over quantity factor: Sociologists say we only have 2 or 3 really good friends in our lifetime, while a business may need a few more than 3 to be profitable it's the quality of customers that matters over the quantity. Concentrate on producing very profitable customers instead of a large number of customers. Constantly increase the lifetime value by improving your products and extending your value.

C. Produce high quality products

  1. Welcome all feedback about your products: Not everyone will like what you do, but welcome the feedback and consider it options for your research and development group. If your customer has any ideas on how to improve your products, take them up on it, invite them to test it and carry on a dialog to provide the improvements they seek. Dialog also generates buy in and helps define the purchase criteria for higher priced transactions.
  2. Continually seek improvements: Many software companies do this; they find ways to improve their existing products then sell them back to the customer as a different version. You can do the same thing with any manufacturing process. Continually seeking improvements that customers want could reduce your costs when implementing new technology.
  3. Ask how else you can serve your customer: It is difficult at times to know what is "high quality" to your customers if you do not constantly ask them. Learn from your distribution process ways to constantly get feedback on how to serve your customers better. Set up points of interaction utilizing trade shows, surveys, and other means of constant communications, bring feedback from your customers right back to your designers.

To increase your bottom-line and create solid long lasting relationships in your business (a) be in business for the long term, (b) treat each customer as an individual, and (c) produce high quality products. In the implementation of these strategies, select one of the areas and ask, "How can this apply to my business?" Just one idea could make doing business more enjoyable and generate for you lifelong customers.

© 2002 Justin Hitt, All rights reserved.
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Justin Hitt is a consultant who specializes in growing relationships for executives in technology companies who want greater profits. For a copy of his newsletter Inside Strategic Relations visit https://iunctura.com/newsletter

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