Treating your customer as if he or she is a friend; does it make sense or does it seem strange?

For many people, the customer is the core of their business. Everything is being done to serve him or her as good as you can. A strong relationship is extremely important; however we tend to draw the line between social and content related issues. Distance is created. If the customer is content with the end result, then so are we but there is so much more to gain! A strong relationship is built on truly getting to know each other. You make time, you take the other person seriously and you even provide unasked advice, just like you would with a friend.

Building and maintaining a strong relationship takes time and energy but you will benefit on the long term. By treating your customers as ‘friends’, you will create another level of contact. It allows you to become more like equals and creates a more open communication. This is far more rewarding for both parties. This doesn’t mean that you’ll meet up after work or that you share private issues. It is all about adding a personal perspective and therefor nourishing and maintaining the relationship. With these results:

  • the relationship itself and the time you spend with each other will become more valuable for both parties
  • it will enlarge your level of job satisfaction
  • by providing feedback and unasked advice you are lowering a threshold. This means you are being truly customer friendly!
  • it will enlarge your motivation to serve customers and to go that extra mile.

How? These 3 specific and practical tips will help you:

  • connect on a regular basis, especially on non-content related moments. This will allow you to get to know each other better and to reduce distance between you and your customer. You can start by making a planning per customer with reminders when to call or to connect. This way you will be working on it in a structured way. These moments don’t have to be time consuming: a simple email with an update can be sufficient.
  • surprise your customer. Do something on a regular basis which your customer is not expecting to add extra value. The point is not only to deliver what you’re being asked for but to take extra time to actually contribute and to discover hidden needs they might have. How would you do this for a friend? What is that extra thing you could do? It can be as simple as offering your help without being asked for or to offer your thoughts on a certain issue.
  • always be honest and upfront. Set clear boundaries and don’t make too many promises. We tend to do this because we want to ‘please’ the customer. We have the expectancy that he or she will appreciate this but you actually risk enlarging the possibility of disappointment. A customer will always appreciate honesty and a realistic point of view.

Wat will be your first action to deepen the relationship with your customers?

 

Good luck!