Whether we realize it or not, the relationships we build is what fuels the success of our businesses. Failure to nurture the established and new relationships will cause them to wither away as quick as the plants outside that receive neither sunlight nor water.
In this fast paced world of constant go, go, go, we get lost in the charts that zoom in on the dollar signs, that may or may not be there. We get too caught up in the products or services we are selling without even realizing that the most important element not being sold is a foundation of trust between the seller and buyer.
Everything that your business does or does not do, in this dynamic, agile, fast paced digital world, from the entire customer experience that it delivers to the very messages your customers receive, can make or break your business.
Successful businesses all have one very important thing in common: top management advocates and knows how to build relationships, but more importantly, they also know how to maintain them.
Last week, Charlene Li, Founder of Altimeter Research, and New York Times bestselling author spoke at the sfAMA’s sold out January event, to discuss the latest trends for marketers and why creating authentic relationships should be our number one priority.
Here’s what we learned: As life gets busier and time moves faster, foxy, savvy, smart – whatever you want to call them, marketers, have to come up with new, unique and most importantly authentic ways to create bonds with their audiences. No longer is it acceptable to treat customers as just another transaction.
1. Customer Feedback Can Make or Break You
A positive customer experience is imperative to set yourself apart from your competitors. But let’s be real, not every customer is going to be satisfied and that’s OK.. What’s more important is how we deal with the customer feedback that dare I say, has the ability to destroy your brand regardless if you are a start-up or a worldwide corporation. With the surplus of social media outlets, we hear the good, bad and ugly on a consistent basis. On the upside, this presents companies with the opportunity to engage with customers via real time and address the issues right then and there. Social media is a powerful tool that can improve your customer engagement tremendously when used properly. Bottomline, know where you stand with your customers, so that you can stand stronger together.
2. Listen More, Talk Less
Listen. Listen. Listen. What is the pulse of your organization? Do you know what your employees and customers are saying? There is a direct correlation between what your employees believe about your organization and what your customers will say about you. Happy, well-trained and positive employees will help your customers along their journey. Complaints can be resolved by doing just one thing, listening. Customers with bad experiences will more likely return for more business if the company demonstrates listening skills.
3. Inspire Action
Remember that saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know?” Learn to share your experiences, the good, bad and the ugly. You never know what lessons can be passed on indirectly and inspire action. It is a chain affect. For some reason, business professionals have flabby sharing muscles, nothing valuable to share but always something to delegate. Inspire change within your organization by sharing, over communicating and listening.
4. Lead, Don’t Boss
Just because you have authority, that doesn’t make you a leader. Break out of the traditional leader-follower mindset so that you can build stronger employee relationships which will directly translate into more authentic business relationships. Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their employees. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what can be accomplished. Give up the need to control, in order to gain so much more.
Do This —Not That
- Say We — Not I
- Develops People — Uses People
- Says Let’s Go — Says Go
- Inspires Enthusiasm —Inspires Fear
Be conscious of what you can do for your customers and employees. Don’t just build relationships with the numbers on the board, build, develop, learn, and nurture every business relationship. Remember to empower your employees to be advocates. If your employees believe in your company’s vision and mission, they will be more successful at building customer relationships and retaining them. After all, the greatest ability in business is to get along with others and influence their actions.
By Andrea Poljakovic, Client Services Account Associate at NetLine Corporation – www.linkedin.com/in/