Every business has a network of customers and suppliers that it deals with on a regular basis and it doesn’t take much to make a difference. Greeting a customer, sending a special acknowledgement for an important order, taking a client’s call after hours occasionally or just simply saying thank-you. Small gestures mean a lot and can have a whopping impact on your relationships not only with customers, but also with suppliers and fellow workers.
Successful business is built on strong relationships between individuals, teams and organisations. More businesses, large and small, are working in partnership with each other – only by working more closely with customers and suppliers can you improve business through improved business relations.
You may be one of the fortunate few who builds relationships – whether business or personal – easily and naturally. If so, good for you. If not, you’re not alone. Developing and maintaining strong business relationships takes planning, reflection and practice.
We’ve put together five useful ways to help you build relationships and keep them bubbling along.
Be truthful and straightforward, but with diplomacy. Too many businesses often lack open and honest dialogue with their customers and within their own organisation. Let the customer know the facts. You’ll find you’ll gain the customer’s trust and build better business relationships. This means you will sometimes have to offer negative feedback. It won’t always be easy but, carefully delivered, honesty in a business relationship can be a breath of fresh air.
Times and demands are getting tougher no matter which way you look at it. Whether you’re dealing with a direct report, a colleague or a client – be prepared to be flexible. Customers understand that a computer may have malfunctioned and that sometimes a parcel may take a day or two to arrive — but they want to be kept informed. Each person is a unique individual and our customers want to be treated as such. The ability to interact effectively with people may be the difference between success or failure in our work and personal life.
Providing excellent customer service can be challenging and at times difficult, but one-thing customers really appreciate is common courtesy. A smile, a welcome greeting and respect for others shows that the business cares. Kindness and compassion in business dealings is not only the right thing to do, it’s also smart business.
Take an interest in your clients. Ask them how things are going. Without prying, convey your interest in their lives. Your genuine interest in others will help promote trust, communication and collaboration – all of which are vital for effective working relationships.
Be liberal with your time, attention and expertise. Don’t worry about anyone taking advantage, more often than not, you will reap great rewards for your ungrudging generosity.
Now here are 10 Great Tips
- Listen twice as much as you talk (that is why we have two ears and one mouth, to remind us of that!)
- Go out of your way to do something nice for the other person on a regular basis – don’t wait for a special occasion.
- Smile more, laugh more.
- Don’t always use the same means to surprise someone – find out what is important to them and celebrate it.
- Find out what they expect from you and be willing to try something new. Be willing to do something you don’t want to do – even the crappy stuff.
- When you come across something cool, stop and think about who else might appreciate it.
- The hardest thing in life is to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes – but it is also the most worthwhile. Try it.
- Be on time, every time.
- Lend a hand – it helps more than a voice.
- Never, ever lie.