Strong customer partnerships are a key component to building a successful company. It’s what keeps both organizations thriving and growing. These relationships are what makes the world go around and the economy grow, without each other there would be no successful business. The relationships aspect between a customer and a business is much more essential than one might think. Why? Because we can’t do one without the other…well you can but you will not be successful.
In the business world you have both internal and external customers. Internal customers are people in your company or perhaps a business partner that you provide your services to deliver your company's products or services. External customers are those people that buy your company's products or services. Internal and external customer relations are both important to a successful business. Today, I want to talk about relationships as whole regarding external customers.
Customer service and support is the most competitive battleground, it’s where business is going to be won or lost. In order to provide customers with great experience you must do this important step first, build a marriage…not a relationship...but a lifelong partnership. Now, this is no easy task and is often over looked by many businesses but the key to this success is simple, pay attention to what your customer is looking for. Listen to what their concerns are and find ways to overcome these obstacles for them.
As Steve Jobs once said, “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close, in fact you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.”
You might read that quote and think to yourself if only I had an intuition that gave me insight to my customers brain. However, it’s much simpler than that, to care for one is to know one, so get to know your customers on a personal and professional level. Always give them more than what they expect.
Critical Keys to Customer Relationship
One of the most important aspects in building a successful partnership, is trust. There are two essential ingredients to building a customer partnership trust. First, a customer has to believe that your intent is to do them no harm, or to act in their best interest. And second, a customer has to believe that you have the capability and competence to act on that intent. Trust is a basic need for a successful partnership. Both parties need to understand the relationship is collaborative, loyal and solid. If the partnership needs support or guidance, the partners trust they can come together in a way where needs and concerns can be met and realized. The most profound partnerships are made up of people who view each other as necessary equals and show mutual respect for each other's differences. They find ways to focus on solutions, not problems and are committed to open communication to keep things together.
As simple as it sounds, people respond well when they feel someone has a sincere interest in them. This is as true for business interactions as it is for personal ones. When it comes to your customers, be as inquisitive as possible, and always listen to what they have to say. If there’s something they need support for or need assistance with, it’s important you listen and try to address their concerns in a timely and interested manner.
Respond to customer communications in a timely manner. What is a timely manner…well put yourself in the customer’s shoes. If you send an email or leave a voicemail and do not hear anything in 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours or longer what do you begin to think? That person you tried to engage in a communication went dark and you’re just not that important at least just right now. This is not the right tone to set with your customer. If a customer has asked a question or requires a response and you do not have an answer…at least send an email acknowledging you have received the request and will get back to them at a certain date. Early in my career I worked for a Vice President whom if you didn’t have a date for a resolution to a customer issue you better be prepared to have a date when you would have a date for that resolution. His ammo was he would ask for a date for a date. Customer communication is important to the long-term success of any business. In the early stages of the relationship, effective communication ensures your product or service meets the customer’s immediate needs. As time goes on, regular contact with your customer base allows you to adapt and grow so you can continue to meet its requirements.
Customer’s do business with people they like. It’s as simple as that. Build that lifelong partnership by building trust, always being attentive and communicate, communicate and over communicate. Once the partnership is built be sure to continue to maintain because every relationship still needs attention even after its built.
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Ball Systems designs, develops, and delivers custom test systems and produces comprehensive build-to-print systems for companies creating or manufacturing critical electronic or electro-mechanical components for automotive, aerospace and defense and consumer appliance applications.