Valentine’s Day is just around the corner – a day filled with romantic gifts and displays of affection. That’s all well and fun, but any relationship specialist will tell you that it’s the daily dynamics and behaviors that make or break a relationship. The grandest of gestures on February 14 won’t make up for a lack of consideration, respect, appreciation, support and collaboration the other 364 days of the year. The same can be said of our relationships with customers, since the foundational dynamics of a healthy, interdependent relationship are essentially the same for both professional and romantic relationships. Consider these tips to cultivate and maintain healthy, long-term customer relationships:
Actions speak louder than words. Don’t talk about your commitment and devotion to customers – show it! Our customers don’t care about what we say; only what we do to close their gaps and facilitate their success. This perspective will help us avoid making empty promises and will keep us focused on real action taken on the customer’s behalf.
Do the right thing on a daily basis, instead of grandiose gestures related to your sales quota or to put out fires. We can all think of an individual who is always in trouble with his/her spouse and deploys dramatic efforts to get out of hot water. The same thing can occur in customer relationships, and it is not a dynamic that builds healthy relationships. If we find ourselves often taking action to placate an angry customer (rather than delight an already happy customer), we need to consider our role in recurring crises. Are we making unrealistic promises? Not following up? Failing to communicate for more realistic expectations?
The strongest customer relationships are the result of continual value contribution and service excellence, with mutual respect and trust in place. These relationships are tended to on a daily basis; not just when the quarter is ending, the contract is up for renewal or the customer is upset. To keep the love alive with customers, we need to demonstrate our devotion throughout the year.