Companies that foster great customer relationships are able to grow their businesses without gimmicks, fee cuts, or special treatment. You have to be good at what you do, of course, but creating a truly successful business is based on one simple concept: trust. With trust, you’ll acquire and retain customers for life. Without it, you may as well pack up and go home.
However, building trust takes time and a lot of hard work. But it is entirely achievable if you and your team work on three of your most important core competencies: service, consistency and transparency.
Great Service Matters
According to a Concerto Marketing Group and Research Now survey, when customers trust a brand, 83 percent will recommend a trusted company to others and 82 percent will continue to use that brand frequently. While hardly anyone talks about the time you went above and beyond for a customer, you’ll certainly hear from the disgruntled ones if you fail to make a deadline or deliver a product that didn’t do what it promised. Earning a customer’s trust starts with great customer service. How would you want to be treated if you were a customer? The more you plan for great service, the less time you’ll spend delivering it. Sure, there will be times when you’ve tried your best and can’t seem to make any headway, but you want to strive for responsiveness, timeliness, and exceeded expectations.
Consistency Breeds Harmony
Consistency goes hand in hand with providing great customer service. Internal expectations lead to external results. From a business perspective, consistency applies to every aspect of what you do: Employees should provide equivalent levels of service. Equipped with the customer service tools they need, your sales team should answers questions the same way. Stay the course with products and services, rather than constantly shifting gears to try new tactics or initiatives. Create meaningful metrics to determine whether something is working. If it isn’t viable, make changes. Consistency puts your money where you mouth is within your company.
Transparency Is Clear
Transparency should come naturally. Yet so many businesses have trouble coming to terms with what it really means. Customers and clients are smart. They know when you’re being up front or when they are told a lie. If honesty is the best policy, they’ll appreciate and admire you more when you admit to a mistake, rather than playing games, or even worse, avoiding them altogether. Don’t try to hide or cover up errors. Address the issue directly, explain how you will handle it and share what steps are being taken to prevent the errors from occurring in the future. To implement transparency effectively, lead by example.
Sealing the Deal
Maintaining solid business relationships does not mean customers or clients have to like you. Everyone wants to be liked. But creating long-term value for customers and clients is more about them trusting you to deliver on your promises. It takes effort, but in the end your hard work will pay off again and again, with repeat business, more referrals and personal peace of mind, knowing you met and exceeded your customers’ expectations.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Marjorie Adams is the President and CEO of AQB, a business process and software consulting firm that improves the efficiency of client accounting departments. The firm specializes in QuickBooks integration and conversion projects. In her spare time, Marjorie catches up with one of her six sisters, sweats through CrossFit training, dresses up her four cats, reads a business book or watches the latest AMC show. Connect with @aqbinc on Twitter.
© YFS Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Copying prohibited. All material is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this material is prohibited. Sharing of this material under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International terms, listed here, is permitted.