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example, if your customer says they want delivery in two weeks and you know
it will likely take three, say, "I'd like to be able to tell you it
will be two weeks, but I want to be honest with you, it will likely take
three. I will do everything I
possibly can to get it to you sooner." (Then of course, try like heck
to get it to them in their timeframe.)
conduct business with integrity. But how can you define it?
In simple terms integrity might mean, "Being who you say you
are, and doing what you say you'll do." Perhaps the old
"Doing-unto others" may be the ultimate definition. Of course that
eliminates resisting the temptation to ever "stretch the truth,"
"tell a little white lie," or omit facts that may be inconvenient
to mention just to get the sale or please the customer. You can't dodge
tough questions, or respond evasively to difficult inquiries.
operate with integrity also means that you refrain from badmouthing the
competition. If you do, you may come across as unprofessional. You won't
win-over customers by attacking the competition, and if you say or do
anything to turn customers off, they'll look elsewhere.
You'll get their business by working hard for it, proving yourself,
being likable and by portraying a higher class of service in every aspect of
doing business with them.
Up Front and Honest from Day One.
up front and honest from day one is critical to developing a relationship.
When something goes wrong or a problem occurs, honesty is always the best
policy. In fact, if a problem
occurs and you solve it the right way, it can make the relationship
stronger. If you make a mistake, own up to it, or you'll lose face.
Apologize sincerely and hopefully, the customer will understand. Correct
mistakes quickly and smoothly.
such as mistakes in billing, or putting the wrong information on an order,
can happen. Rectify them with an apology and a graceful comment such as,
"I'm so sorry this happened. Let's fix it immediately." Carry out
remedial action promptly. No customer is happy when they lose precious time
from your mistakes. If a problem arises or a mistake has been made, handling
them the right way builds relationships.
On the other side of the coin, what happens when a customer depends
on you and you deliver? They depend on you even more.
relationships requires being persistent, but it also requires consistency.
If you are in a business where a customer will not likely purchase often,
such as a car dealership, a mortgage broker, or hotel property salesperson,
be sure to build relationships and create goodwill by communicating often
with them after their purchase. Depending on your industry, I recommend you
do this Quarterly. Whether it's a simple written note, a phone call, or
e-mail, those extra touches make them feel special. Your effort just might
pay off with repeat business and referrals.
to Ask About What's Important to THEM.
your customers' interests, hobbies, and special events and ask questions
about what is important to them. "So, Joe how was your golf game last
weekend?" "Your assistant told me you were on vacation. Were you
able to get away with your family?" "How was your daughter's
wedding?" "So, how do you like your new car?" "How's
your business doing, Joe." Learn the art of small talk but be brief.
Small Kindnesses and Courtesies
your customer is a GOLF nut, send them an issue of "Golf"
magazine. Remembering your customer likes Starbucks coffee and walking in
with a fresh cup is always a nice gesture when calling on them. Don't forget
the Gatekeeper either! You'll
need to be on their good side at all times.
yourself as an ongoing, valuable resource to customers by providing them
with ideas and information that will help them grow THEIR business.
If you read an article that may be of interest to your customer, send
it to them. If you learned
something new in a seminar that will be helpful to them, tell them. If you
know someone who can use THEIR services by all means tell them. These are
ways to build a relationship before, during and after the sale. It
demonstrates your willingness to help and is also a way to keep your name in
front of them. In addition, it
gives you a reason to call them other than doing so to offer your services.
about your customer's business and what's important to them. Get actively
engaged in it and "partner" with them to help them achieve their
goals. This holds true even when you're unable to help them. In my sales
seminars, I remind people to help the customer in every way possible--even
when it means referring them to another company that can meet their needs
when you can't. If you do, it will clearly demonstrate that you have the
customer's best interest in mind and will help develop the relationship.
When was the last time you helped a customer when there was nothing in it
you're only thinking about bottom lines, profit margins and increased sales
as you interact with customers, then you'll never be truly successful.
Internalize the customer's goals and make them your own. When customers know
you have their interests at heart and they see that you've tied your success
to their own, you'll have built a strong relationship.
two most effective methods to build relationships with customers:
Value them. Your customer needs to feel appreciated-very appreciated. What
have you done lately to show your customer you appreciate them?
Exceed their expectations in every possible way. In the past, simply satisfying that customer may have been
sufficient enough to develop a solid relationship and keep them coming back
for more business. You've heard a great deal about how you need to take that
"Extra Step" to exceed expectations. Even though you've heard it
before it warrants reinforcement. Exceeding customer expectations is by far,
the best way to build a relationship.
can establish life-long friendships and build strong customer loyalty by
going the extra mile and handling each customer with special care.
All articles & website © 1999-2002 Expert Magazine
All articles & website © 1999-2002 Expert Magazine