Building Business Relationships

Are you struggling to create and keep profitable customers? Columns for Sales and Marketing Management who wants to build business relationships.
Friday, September 26, 2003

Today millions can learn of your mistakes on the Internet

Edinburgh airport: catching the red eye. bad customer experience No. 156: i often catch the red-eye flight from Edinburgh to London. the earliest flight ... [txnt unconnected]

While bad customer service is a measure of an individuals experience, buyers often base their decisions on the recommendations of strangers. This is where the Internet can be a challenge. One jilted customer can share their angst with thousands, even millions of prospective customers, and there is nothing you can do about it.

The communications freedoms of the Internet sound like a concern for business to business companies, but consider the value to market research. Yes, that's right, learning about the concerns of customers is easier now than you could ever before.

As people chat up your product in discussion boards, or other public forums; your customer service staff can listen in to learn about what you can do to improve your product or service. While one persons perception of service value isn't representative of all your customers, that same channel might be used to share what you did about their concern.

Other points to consider:

  1. Be aware of what is being said.  The companies that refuse to monitor all mediums are the ones that slowly lose customer base-- sure it's a lot of material to monitor, but with today's technology it can be mostly automated. Try searching on your company name periodically, you'll be surprised what you come up with.
  2. Address the matter directly.  Never pretend you don't know about bad publicity. Both your marketing and public relations departments should assess the situation before a direct contact from customer service. Never take the approach of litigation unless the writers comments are slanderous. Weblogs are a great place to directly point out positive coverage.
  3. Try to make the situation right.  Just as you might for any other customer concern, contact the writer and try to correct the situation. Find out what you could have done to improve the situation, and try to prevent this type of irritation in the future. Listen with the intent to improve the situation.
  4. Understand that all people have some level of influence.  Whether newspaper columnist or past customers, remember everyone has some level of influence with their comments. Take into consideration any customer concern, no matter who expressed it, then apply proper due diligence to determine which concerns to address first.
  5. Never discount an individuals level of influence.  For strong customer relationships, treat each comment as if it reached your most valuable customers. A comment about your product today might not draw too much attention, but could just as easily be found by someone considering your product over a competitors.

Justin Hitt, with over 10 years of experience in business to business executive relationships and strategic business intelligence; has reduced costs and improve customer loyalty for professional services and numerous other technology companies. Call +1 (877) 207-3798 or visit his website at

11:21:29 AM    Join Newsletter

Each customer defines customer service differently

What ever happened to customer service?. Find out what happens when you put one of your most valuable and profitable customers on hold, who just happens to be an author. [Moreover - CRM news]

Do you irritate your customers while trying to serve them better?  This article is a follow on to my Making your service harder to use irritates customers -- too often efforts to improve actually make matters worse because each individual defines good customer service differently.  Consider these points to satisfy your most profitable customers:

  1. Ask about and keep track of service preferences.  Maintain a history of customer interactions by customer and segments of customers. Use this trend information to tailor future improvements to prevent disruptions with profitable customers. This information can help reduce costs by phasing out less used mediums.
  2. Make it easy for your best customers to deal with real people.  Automated systems irritate people and make some quick tasks hard. It may cost more, but make sure your best customers have a real person to contact. Human-to-human interactions are often faster because of limited programing in automated machine systems.
  3. Help callers escape from automated voice response systems easily.  At any point in an automated phone system, make sure callers can get access to a real person. If someone gets lost in your system they will assume your entire company is that difficult to work with and likely do business with someone else. Your best customers should have a direct line to a real person as an option.
  4. Identify top customers from first interaction and treat them accordingly.  As soon as your best customers call, make sure you know who you are talking with. A positive experience with your organization starts with a customer first reaches your organization. Start with a category field that identifies which customer group a particular account is a member, and determine a customers identity by asking for an account number.
  5. Provide a level of service each customer expects in a profitable manner.  While self-service saves you money, most of your highly profitable customers want to save time and is willing to pay for that benefit. Seek to understand customer expectations at each customer segment. Provide a service at each level that can be cost effective and satisfactory for the buyer.
  6. Allow customers to access your organization anytime without a human.  Some customers will prefer not working directly with people for various reasons. Make your company available 24-hours a day with automated systems for ordering, account status, and inventory management. The Internet is just one of the technological solutions available.

Justin Hitt teaches executives how to create strong business relationships that can increase profits while improving customer loyalty. To learn more about business relationships visit Inside Strategic Relations or call +1 (877) 207-3798

4:16:07 AM    Join Newsletter

Measuring efforts in a relationship

Becoming a Soft-Side Accountant. Columnist Marshall Goldsmith says in order to build a better organization, we must account for the soft-side values of the workplace. [Fast Company]

Marshall Goldsmith shares his experiences in trying to measure relationship development with his family.  He provides example useful for improving your 8 executive relationship realms.

This article presents a mixed message about taking in account your personal relationships as an executive. While a good article, I believe the topic would be better covered in a longer, more detailed piece. The following includes a few key points to consider with commentary:

  1. Measure what is desired.  Measurements are useful only to the point they define movement toward a clearly defined objective. Spend more effort on achieving a desired result, than measuring all the characteristics of achievement. Focus observation on key measures placing remaining effort in action.
  2. Quality must proceed quantity.  When interacting with other groups, make sure your efforts are actually desired and produce improvements in a relationship. Often measuring a thing causes us to focus more on increasing the measure, actually distracting us from our original purpose.
  3. A strong self focus improves business.  When you focus on one aspect of your life, you'll tend to prioritize other areas of your life. As you improve your self focus, inadvertently you'll improve the relationships around you. This could mean improving family relationships to remove outside stresses that keep you off focus at the office.
  4. Tracking isn't improving.  Just because you are accounting for soft-skills, doesn't mean you are increasing their value with the people around you. Seek training in soft skills including interpersonal communications, listening, problem solving, and building trust. You must also be sincere in your efforts to improve relationship quality.
  5. Enjoy the process of reorienting focus on relationships.  Have a clear purpose for improving soft skills, look for mutual objectives you can share with those close to you. Often people spend so much time designing the process, they don't consider why they are implementing it.
  6. Celebrate relationship growth not the analytical measure.  The value of the relationship is more important than your measure of time. There is no point to improving the quantity of undesired actions. Focus on successes unrelated to the measures and reinforce desired results.

Justin Hitt teaches executives how to create strong business relationships that can increase profits while improving customer loyalty. To learn more about business relationships visit Inside Strategic Relations or call +1 (877) 207-3798

3:36:38 AM    Join Newsletter

Last update: 04/08/2004; 2:36:00 PM.

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