It’s become a bit of a clichÃ© in the business world to compare developing a business relationship with a new customer to developing a new romantic relationship. However, like most clichÃ©’s its popularity results from the accuracy of its observations. Developing new customer relationships ARE like dating a new person. It takes some work as both parties try to feel out the other persons interests and goals for the relationship.
Unfortunately, many companies restrict their capacity for growth by making common “dating” mistakes that, in the long run, can send customers scurrying to give their business to a competitor. Many businesses start to get off-track by not striking the right balance among the “ABCs” of new business relationships: Apathy, Blitz and Complete Records.
Nothing kills a new relationship faster than one party not taking the time to make the other party feel valued. Therefore, when establishing business relationships with new clients, companies should never make the mistake of signing the contract or making the sale and then not following up with a client after the initial conversion; this may be as simple as sending a Thank You email or even a coupon code to encourage return business. Although this may seem like common sense, a recent survey by Forrester Research shows that customers often don’t feel appreciated by their new service provider and this leads them to bring their business elsewhere. www.Forrester.com
Conversely, many companies make the opposite mistake and inundate their new clients with mail and phone calls. This is the result of one crucial difference between dating and new client relationship: the service-provider is invested in keeping the client, whereas the client typically has any number of service providers competing for his or her business. Therefore, the client has the ability to play hard-to-get, whereas the business owner may have to assume the less-appealing role of chasing the client in an unfortunate impression of Pepe le Peu.
As with any new relationship, it is important to strike the right balance between showing interest in the other person and respecting their personal space. No one wants to receive daily emails from their new service-provider, unless the emails contain urgent, valuable information relevant to their recent purchase.
Businesses should restrict their “just checking in” contact with new clients. Ideally, they would have some method of keeping track of their customers preferred contact level, and provide customers with ways to opt in and out of courtesy contact from the company. Finally, perhaps the most crucial aspect of creating positive customer relationships:
It’s bad to forget the birthday or occupation of your new significant other. Similarly, it is bad for companies to lose track of important changes in a customer’s information or continuously contact their customers in ways that irritate the individual.
Businesses should keep updated contact info on their clients, but they can improve their databases by making room for more specific information, such as the way the client prefers to be contacted. If a client prefers to be called with important information and hates emails, they will resent a company filling their inbox and will not be receptive to any information contained in those emails. Small adjustments in the company’s client databases can make a real difference in the experience of new clients and lead to a more positive on-going relationship.
By making the customer feel appreciated, but not overwhelmed, and by contacting him or her via a convenient medium, companies can start new client relationships off on the right foot. In business, as in dating, there is nothing harder to overcome than a bad early impression. By following the ABCs of new client relationships, businesses can permit the relationship to grow organically, rather than wasting resources trying to overcome a bad first or second impression.
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