Tag Archives: relationships

All (Good) Business is About Relationships

I've never met the man in person, but I've known him for several years now.  We met on the social media web site, Ryze.com, and have stayed in contact over the years.  I've always liked this guy, and he has always been very generous with his time in answering any web- or SEO-related questions I might have.  So when a client of mine needed a new web host, I was quick to direct him to Reg Charie of 0Grief.com.

We got the client's new site up on Reg's servers, and all worked well.  But then I needed to add some content to the site for the first time, and needed guidance.  Reg was able to instruct me in this endeavor.  But then a strange problem popped up.

I noticed that the web site looked fine in browsers like Firefox, Chrome, and Flock, but in Internet Explorer, the text was all centered, as opposed to justified left.  I contacted the web site designer, but he had no explanation for why or how that could happen.  I mentioned it to Reg  on a Skype chat, and he spent the next 45 minutes of his own time, trying to figure out and correct the problem.  As Reg is much more familiar with HTML code than I, he scoured it, looking for the root cause of this particular problem.  He managed to correct the home page, but then realized the problem carried over to the entire site.  At this point, he advised me that it might be easier just to reload the entire site.  I contacted the web designer and had him do just that, and the problem was resolved.

The point of this post is to show the value of relationships in business.  Your vendors don't all have to be your best friends, but if you have maintained a good relationship with them, you will find they will provide you with the Platinum level of service, even if you're only a Bronze level customer.  On the other side of that coin, if you are providing service, when you give that Platinum level of service to everyone you come in contact with, you will find yourself being referred to friends and colleagues of all your clients, and will build a reputation as a trusted adviser.  There's a reputation that will serve you well.  It's worked for Reg Charie!

  — Chuck Dennis

Customer Relationship = Customer Retention

In a good blog post, called It's the Relationship, Stupid, the author (one of the principals from My Creative Team, in Charlotte, NC) talks about the difference one new manager made in turning a local restaurant from good to great.  This manager inherited a restaurant where the author had experienced pretty good food, but pretty spotty service.  The new guy took it upon himself to meet his customers, learn their names, learn what they liked, offered some freebies, and most importantly, REMEMBERED all this stuff the next time the author and his wife returned.  Suffice to say, they return much more frequently now.

This is such a simple concept, and not just for the restaurant or hospitality industry, but for ANY business.  EVERY business.  This is not rocket science.  This is Basic Humanity 101.   If you get to know someone, they will get to know you.  If that someone is a customer who purchases product or service from you, they will purchase more from you the better you get to know them, and they get to know you.

For some reason, this common sense idea is often overlooked in the business world.  Not enough effort is made, because not enough thought is put into it.  Not enough incentive is created for the customer-facing personnel to make this effort – something that they would likely do instinctively in their own home – at their job. 

Management needs to decide how they want their customers treated, right down to the specifics.  Then they need to reward the employees who treat their customers in this way.  And they need to NOT reward any other kind of treatment of their customers.  This is the tricky part: drawing the line in the sand between ideal service behavior and everything else.  Businesses who are serious about retaining customers long term will take this to heart.  Businesses who don't get it will not want to raise the fuss and risk causing resentment between the unrewarded employees and the ones who get rewarded for doing the right thing.  Those businesses will continue to get spotty service delivery from their employees, and will not generate customer loyalty.

  — Chuck Dennis

Be Friendly to Your Customers, but Don’t Treat Them Like Friends

As readers of this blog know, I am not shy about shining a spotlight on examples of poor customer service, and sharing my views on how the matter could have been improved.  Armchair quarterbacking, I believe it is called.

That said, I must now point the finger at myself.

Angrycustomer_2

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In a conference call with a client last week, he was explaining that he was going to have to push our project back a couple of months, due to some issues concerning a sister company of his.

What I should have said is, "Hey, no problem.  Give me a holler when you are ready to roll."  But because I had built a friendship with the guy in addition to our business relationship, and we had agreed to speak freely with one another, I barely masked my disappointment, and for some reason felt the need to remind him that I would be seeking other projects in the interim, and I hoped that I would be available when he was ready to go.  I wasn’t rude or snotty when I said this; it was more of like "Hey, you snooze, you lose" that you would say to a buddy.

Even now, as I retell this story, I am astounded at my ignorance.  Anyone who has worked with a consultant before, and certainly anyone with this particular gentleman’s business pedagree, understands that projects need to scheduled as to availability.  But friendship or no friendship, buddy or no buddy, I should have had my customer service consultant hat on at that time.  I should have been understanding and accomodating, and I am afraid that in this instance, I was not.

I soon regained my common sense, and apologized, which the client quickly accepted and dismissed in true male-buddy fashion, and we have continued our business relationship and friendship.  But I was lucky.  By letting my guard down and wearing my friend hat when I should have been wearing my consultant hat, I could have easily lost or damaged a business relationship.

So please, learn from my error.  No matter how friendly you become with a client or customer, always remember to treat them with the respect that all customers deserve.  Any less can be damaging to both the business, and the personal, relationship.

   — Chuck Dennis

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