Putting a few business owners into the same room usually results in active conversation about the state of the economy, market trends, and perhaps a bit of gossip about what other businesses are up to around town! These conversations often evolve into a debate about customer service and by default “the customer relationship”. I’ve always believed that good service, evolving trust and loyalty form the foundation of great customer relationships. In other words, just like good concrete you mix the three together and get a great foundation. They don’t necessarily happen at the same time, and often (in my personal experience) I’ve found delivering great service has opened the door to customers trusting our ability to deliver on expectations, with strong loyalty following.
However, we are sometimes hit with alternate views that make you stop and reflect on your beliefs! Just this week I attended a business group meeting where a few of us debated what creates and makes up the customer relationship. Whilst many of us shared similar views, one dissenting voice believed that each component stood on their own, and you don’t need all three to have a strong customer relationship. The example was given by this person about a property investor who dealt with a well known local real estate agent. I’m going to summarise the story at this point, but the investor had commented on occasion that he didn’t like the agent as a person, he didn’t give great service, and he was loyal to him only because the agent was well connected and had always delivered results. Basically, his loyalty was conditional and 100% results driven, and if he failed on one occasion that would be the end of the relationship! (Nothing like a bit of pressure!)
It was an interesting concept and example. On one hand it espoused an alternate view, but on the other it proved to me that a true rock-solid customer relationship needs service, trust and loyalty to survive the inevitable ups and downs. So, whilst I respected the alternate view, I wasn’t swayed and felt more comfortable with my traditional beliefs on the subject.
From experience working with clients across many industries and sectors, it doesn’t matter whether you sell trinkets, newspapers, whitegoods or professional services. Delivering consistent and exceptional service creates trust and repeat business. Maintaining that level of service across multiple transactions will cement that trust, and from that point loyalty to the owner, brand and even staff evolves.
Service, trust and loyalty define a strong customer relationship, and together they will see it survive and grow through changing market trends and the occasional misstep by either party.
This blog is not an all-encompassing expose on what makes the perfect customer relationship. However, if we can achieve anything today, it’s encouraging you to think about how you should go about building strong relationships with your customers.
Present Professionally works with existing and start-up businesses to get their systems, processes, and marketing in place to drive growth and success.
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