If you find yourself continuously giving up or bumping heads with your customers, here are a few points that will help you build a healthy relationship with them – one in which you’ll actually want to hear what they have to say.
Is the customer always right? Maybe once-upon-a-time. Today, we’re heading into a world that places a lot more importance on relationships, closeness and openness. It’s not so one-sided anymore. Just as people have a relationship with their brands, it’s time you start looking at your customers the same way.
Companies that succeed are companies that are consumer-oriented, that know how to establish a relationship with their customers. It begins with conversations held at every stage of brand-consumer interaction. When you make a purchase on Amazon, you feel that the company’s goal and your goal are the same: for you to be satisfied. In order to make that happen, you know that Amazon will accommodate you wherever and however it can; and when it can’t, Amazon will explain why never giving up on you.
And where are we going with all of this? To the fact that giving up on your customers is just as bad as arguing with them over everything. Who said they’re always right? Do they know better than you? They turned to you, an expert, a professional, just to tell you what to do? But wait, before you get excited and shout “exactly!” out loud, you’re also wrong in calling your customers stupid but still just going along with them. This essentially minimizes customers, hurting them and your relationship together. What’s worse, you find yourself doing something you don’t believe in and you’ll go home at the end of a day with a nagging feeling of mediocrity and frustration.
That’s the nature of relationships: compromise on one hand, but also standing up for yourself and creating boundaries where necessary. Most important of all, you should have a healthy, open, attentive and sincere connection with your customers. Explain to them why you don’t agree with them, how far you’re willing to go for them even though you see things differently (and what the expected implications are) and in what areas you refuse to give them poor service if they insist on paying for it.
Sometimes, they really are right
It’s true, but even when the saying is correct, it’s only because you’ve arrived together at the realization that this is the right path to be walking down. It requires attentiveness and an open mind, but also strength of character, consistency, persistence when necessary and sometimes even a bit of politics. Here are a few rules that will make it easier for you to build a relationship that will allow you to guide your customers in the directions you want.
Rule 1: Don’t always just go with the flow
The “It’s ok honey, you’re right” approach won’t get you anywhere good if it doesn’t come from the heart. It only postpones the argument until the next opportunity and leaves you time to build up more frustration before it finally comes.
Rule 2: You aren’t always right either
Despite all your experience, remind yourself (and your ego) that a business owner knows his business and his customers better than anyone and sometimes his intuition is worth more than any statistic or insight you could produce. Always open your ears and listen.
Rule 3: Let them be heard
It’s important to listen to some people. As long as it doesn’t take up your entire day (and give you a headache), it’s ok. Look at it this way: If you have a customer who wants to be involved, that’s better than an apathetic one. Invest a few minutes in him and use his inspiration to reach new heights.
Rule 4: Don’t go to bed angry
If you have obligations or complaints, put them on the table in the moment. This will cause the other side to do the same, basing your relationship on trust and helping them let go. This also saves you frustration and helps you be a better listener.
Rule 5: Did you explain well?
The small arguments often come up because you have a very specific picture in your head but the person in front of you has a completely different one in theirs. Sometimes it’s best to stop and ask ourselves if we’ve explained ourselves properly. Perhaps the issue is worth approaching from a different angle?
Rule 6: Let go when necessary
Not everything is existential and essential. Not every word is critical and you can always begin again with a new approach and a new solution. Even if you’re certain that something will lead to failure, you’ll be appreciated for the effort.
Rule 7: Give it time
Even if what you’ve had to say wasn’t received, there’s a good chance it will sink in before you connect again, especially if you’re dealing with a new customer. Sometimes it’s best to let it be until next time (as long as this doesn’t become routine).
Rule 8: Align expectations together
Did you go along with your customers? Explain what you expect to see happen and let it happen. Sometimes people need to be insistent once in order to let go and trust you next time.
Rule 9: It’s not you, it’s me
If you know that you’ve tried everything, sometimes it’s better to go your separate ways, saving time and frustration for both sides. Go find yourself a partner that will be profitable and productive.