Customer Relations

Posted on December 29, 2010

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I like this term better than “customer service.” You should want to have a relationship with all your customers, all the time.  What can this do for you?

  • Simplicity: If interacting with all your customers, all the time, sounds intimidating, that’s okay. It should force you to simplify what you do, and how your customers interact with you. You’ll build customer loyalty with each step you take to simplify things.
  • Patience: Relationships take time, and patience. Thinking of each interaction in terms of building a relationship should remind you of the patience it takes to build a great and lasting friendship.
  • Relevance: Do you talk to strangers? Do you tell them about your wants and needs? If you build a relationship with your customers, you won’t be a stranger to them. They’ll tell you how to stay relevant to their lives and businesses.
  • Accessibility: Your friends have your phone number, e-mail address, Facebook page, and more ways to contact you. You are accessible to them. Strive to make your business the same way for your customers. Don’t make them search for ways to reach you.
  • Humanity: It’s tough to be impersonal or officious with people you know. If you strive for humanity, you’ll build relationships. If you build relationships, you can’t help but show humanity. You don’t have to be best friends, but you can show your warmth and humanity to your customers.
  • Omnipresence: All of us learned, at some point, how tough long-distance relationships are. Our friends are the people who stay in our lives. Social media makes that easier today than it used to.
  • Innovation: It’s a ten-dollar word for a two-bit process. We all innovate, every day. We figure out better, faster, cheaper ways to do things. We share those innovations with our friends. Your customers will share their innovations with you if you take the time to build relationships with them. They’ll tell you where you need to innovate, just like they’ll tell you how to stay relevant.

These values come from A New Brand World: Eight Principles for Achieving Brand Leadership in the Twenty-First Century, Scott Bedbury and Stephen Fenichell, Penguin, 2003.

Takeaway

Success in business can be an evolutionary process. Those most adaptive to change survive and thrive. If you don’t adapt these values, your competition will overtake you because they did. What’s more, whether they think about it consciously or not, your customers judge you by how successfully you demonstrate these values.

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