Building Quality Business Relationships

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“Loving your customer boils down to one thing – creating an almost fanatic sense of loyalty in your customer such that they wouldn’t think of buying from anyone else.” Brad Antin (commonsensemarketing.com)

In today’s world of con-jobs and an anything-goes-to-earn-a-buck attitude, truer words were never spoken. The simple fact remains that we are all in the  business  of selling something. Selling a product, selling a service, selling advice, selling memories – we all have something we want people to buy, or buy into. We spend time, money, all sorts of resources to market, market, market, in the hopes that we will attract customers. But what happens after potential customers show an interest? What do we do to get them to bite, what do we do to keep them coming back?

Build relationships.

Like Mr. Antin states, Loyalty is the key. You want to take your customer by the hand, let them know you are going to take good care of them, and then do it. Set their mind at ease. Make them absolutely, 100% positive that you (or your product, service, etc) are the perfect solution and that no one else will do. I have found a list of “7 Steps to Building Successful Relationships”, and I honestly believe that they can be applied to  business  relationships as well as personal. With the help of these steps, you will be well on your way to building  business  relationships that can last a lifetime.

*Note that I will be treating these steps through the eyes of a designer; that is, someone offering a service. Please remember that these steps can be applied to any number of  business  situations.*

1. Accept the other person’s feelings and opinions.

This person is your customer, or your client. They are paying you. Therefore, they have a rather large stake in what happens to the project they’ve hired you for. Remember this. Remember, also, that you do not have to agree with them. But always, always, ALWAYS be open to hearing what they have to say!

2. Openly communicate feelings and opinions.

This is an extension of number one. Just like the client has a stake in a project, so do you! If you think something won’t work, won’t look right, or if something doesn’t sit well with you, please – speak up. After all, the finished product is a reflection of you as a  business . But, please try to spare their egos – explain to them why something might not work, and always offer one or more alternatives to smooth ruffled feathers. And always remember to compromise…

3. Respect is vital to relationships.

Both people need to show respect. Listening and genuinely trying to understand each other are two ways of showing respect (see numbers one and two). If your customer feels that you respect him or her, then you will have a MUCH easier time. Communication will be a lot smoother. The client will be much more agreeable and likely to take your opinions and thoughts seriously.

4. Respect yourself.

Of course you respect yourself as a professional. But I’m keeping this one in here because it’s true that some people don’t respect themselves enough to speak up, to keep themselves from getting stepped all over. You are worth every penny for your services. Don’t let anyone try to scam you (because, sadly, people will try!). Don’t let your clients run you ragged. Set boundaries and follow them. If you do, you will have a lot more success and a lot less stress (hey look, I’m a poet!).

5. Resolve differences with the other person straightforwardly.

I, myself, have a problem with this. I’m willing to admit it. I HATE confrontation. I’m more like an ostrich – just bury my head in the dirt and wait for it to be over. That, unfortunately, is not a smart way to do  business . Avoiding the problem just gives you a bigger headache and leaves the customer with a bad, bad taste in their mouth about their experience with you. If you have a problem, give your fears over to the  business  gods and SPEAK UP. But do so diplomatically. As a passionate person, I get flared up easily. Thank goodness for my hubby, who is forever the diplomat – he helps me word my emails so that they are not confrontational or defensive. (If you need someone like that, by all means, go right ahead! Whatever works!)

Oh, and don’t wait until the last possible moment… that’s another no-no. Get it over quickly – sort of like a band-aid. It hurts worse when you pull it off slow; so it goes in  business . You want to resolve differences as fast as possible and get on with the project so that soon, you both have forgotten about ever having a dispute. You want your client to be left with good, happy memories of you and your  business . J

6. Listen without pre-judgment.

I think this goes without saying. Don’t ever judge a person, ESPECIALLY in a professional setting. You won’t be able to see clearly enough to do what is best for the project in hand. Believe me. You want the client to feel that he or she can come to you with any problem, question, concern, or (yes it does happen!) praise. This adds to trust and strengthens your relationship with your customers. This is a good thing!

7. Develop an atmosphere where each party can express their feelings when needed.

This, also, goes without saying… I feel it’s an extension of the above. If you don’t judge, then naturally people are going to flock to you. They are going to trust you and trust your (yep, you guessed it!) judgment.


Source by Danaye Shiplett

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