Every Business Is Relationships
It doesn’t matter what your role is in business.
You won’t get very far without the help of other people.
It doesn’t matter whether your work is solo or as one of thousands in a big corporation.
Your work will require you to interact with people.
To build a product, offer a service, tell people about that product or service, make a sale, solve a problem, or gather feedback. It’s hard to imagine a business situation where people aren’t involved. To be successful, some social skills are an imperative. To build a team or grow a business, we need to get other people engaged and involved.
Business is relationships and relationships are everyone’s business.
Transaction is not Connection
In some ways, every person we interact with — employees, bosses, vendors, partners, shareholders, family, friends — is a customer. Those interactions can be transactional. You do this and I’ll do that. Relationship over until the next offer.
We do the this so that we get that prize.
We see this and do this online and off.
- “Like” our Facebook page, and get a coupon for a free taco.
- Follow us on Twitter and we’ll retweet you 5 times.
- Enter our contest and you could win!
- Buy our product and get 10% more.
- Buy from us and get a free hat!
The problem with that transaction — the quid pro quo agreement doesn’t develop a relationship.
Our attention is on the prize not the person or even the business who offered it. We earned the prize.
Unless they offer another prize, we don’t really have a reason to interact with that business or person again. If someone offers a better prize for less work or investment, they’ll get our time.
Transactions are not connections. It takes a connection to have reason for returning.
7 Keys to Loyal, Lasting Customer Relationships
Transactional business is tough. And it’s risky. It’s tiring and costly to keep reminding customers to come back and buy again. Another vendor can offer a better, or even the same, transaction and if the timing, placement, or prize is attractive when customers have a need to buy again they’re gone. How far will you walk to get a lower ATM fee?
But, build a relationship and the game changes. You’ve suddenly established context. Context shows people how you fit into their lives. Now that other vendor can’t replicate or replace what you’ve built. It takes a little more time and maybe some thinking, but the investment is worth it. Invest in people and they’re more likely to invest back.
If you want customers to form a relationship a fiercely loyal customer, stick by these 7 keys to a loyal, lasting customer relationship.
- Show up whole and human. Listen when people talk. We respond to generosity and compassion.
- Talk in your authentic voice. Let your values speak for you. You’ll attract people who share them.
- Tell your own truth. Tell the best true story about you — the one that gets customers to see that you’re like them.
- Have room for customers to tell their best story too. When they do, find a way to applaud.
- Don’t try to tie ideas up in a bow. Leave room for contributions, conversation, and growth through collaboration.
- Invite the best people to contribute. Let customers into your business to do things unrelated to buying, like swapping success stories, sharing their wisdom, and helping other customers have a better experience.
- Be helpful, not hypeful. . . . Make everything about them not you.
People make relationships with people, not with businesses. Investing authentic attention in customers, taking time to see, hear, and understand their needs, wishes, and wants, builds trust. Trust makes things faster and easier. We buy more and bigger things from people we trust.
Got advise on how to win your loyalty as a customer?
–ME “Liz” Strauss