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What are the characteristics of a great customer relationship?
Steve Yastrow posted this on 04/07/06.
i have a good friend [and biz partner] that is
trying to crack the PBS market... he is the
absolute best interviewer on planet earth. bar
none. he has a local cable talk show.
well, i had a couple of contacts, and they were
going to be in the same location as my friend...
but i was 660 miles away. not an issue.
i set up a coffee break at the local Starbucks
and we all met there for about two hours. i rode
my motorcycle [almost as fun as working] to the
meeting. then rode back through the night the
other 660 miles.
he would do the same for me.
i have said it before [and google proves it!]:
"its relationships, stupid"
Posted by jeff 'ski' kinsey at April 7, 2006 9:01 PM
1. Under-promise AND Over-deliver â€“ You never get a second chance to make a first impression!
2. Feel Good Factor (FGF) for doing business with you.
3. Effective Communication â€“ Donâ€™t let your customer think in bizarre ways! Always, keep your customer informed.
4. Customer satisfaction â€“ 100%. Period.
5. Exceed customer expectations â€“ 100%. Period.
A research conducted by â€˜Research Institution of Americaâ€™ mentions that â€œthe average person who has a bad-service experience tells at least nine others about it and l3% of complaints relate their experience to more than 20 other people. In comparison, people who receive an excellent service only tell three or four others about it"
6. Be open, firm, committed, flexible and have the highest of integrity in all your dealings with your customer.
7. NEVER underestimate the knowledge / power of your customer - The secret to success is to treat all customers as if your world revolves around them.
Well, the above list is based on some random thoughts on the topicâ€¦am sure the list WILL grow & EVOLVE into a more MATURE & COMPLETE one.
I love this quote by Donald Porter â€“ V.P. of British Airways â€“ â€œCustomers donâ€™t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.â€
Posted by K.Sriram at April 7, 2006 11:07 PM
Great Relationships are built when there is:
a.Honesty & Integrity
d.Personalized attention & no "canned" solutions
e.Differentiation - There can no one size fits
all relationship strategy. You got to
differentiate the value of your relationships
and then accordingly provide differential
f. More listening & less of talking - Sometimes
great relationships are built when the person
on the other side is a great listener.
g. Passion & Involvement - When you see the
person on the other side is disinterested or
giving you a feeling of being unwanted or
just the sheer lack of enthusiasm and
commitment, you lose trust in the relationship
h. No defensive attitude - Many a times, I have
seen people get defensive about an
issue/problem even when they know it could
have been handled better. When you are not
defensive, it raises the barometer of trust in
Posted by Sivarman Swaminathan at April 8, 2006 12:01 AM
You are customer's "First Responder" when customer has an emergency (aka. Trusted Partner).
Posted by kp at April 8, 2006 12:18 AM
I believe your question deals more with the characteristics of the relationship, that is, how to recognize if one is really having a great relationship with a customer.
Here's my take on this:
1.When your own top priorities match those of your customers.(not just in words, but in thought as well as action)
2.When you are not at all hesitant in informing your customers first hand if you forsee a problem.
3.When you recognize an issue/problem even before your customer pulls you up for it.
4.When you are willing to do everything possible under the sun to ensure your customer's convenience.
5.When you & your customer focus on arriving at the best & quickest possible solution to a problem rather than trying to push it under the carpet.
6.When you and your customer truly trust each other's word and make sure to keep it under all circumstances.
7.When your customer is pleased to see you and talks about business in a cordial manner.
8.When you are willing to argue with your Boss if you think any particular company policy/decision may not be in your customer's best interests.
9.When you're as concerned as your customer if his operations hit a roadblock (even if you may not be responsible for it).
10.When your customer says he'd glad to see you doing his work.
Give yourself a point if you answer in affirmative to each of the above points and rate your relationship on a scale of 1 to 10. Wotsay, Tom , Steve !
Posted by Mohit Bhushan at April 8, 2006 3:18 AM
*When you feel like the customer is your best friend who you would do anything for.
*When the cost is the last thing you mention - if you mention it at all
*When your customer looks you in the eye and says thank you
Posted by Trevor at April 8, 2006 3:56 AM
Trust that leads to humility, curiosity and veracity.
Humility - the openess created to be curious enough to discover the truth.
Curiosity - the intensity with which you explore, ask quesions and embrace veracity.
Veracity - the appetite you have for reality - how close to "the truth" you can get, and how much you can handle even if it's "brutal".
This is from the guys at MarcumSmith (www.marcumsmith.com). It's been a huge difference-maker in my career.
Posted by James Mathews at April 8, 2006 7:53 AM
When your customer comes to you because they want to, not because they have to.
When you understand your customer's problem on such a deep level that there is no question (no chance on earth!) that you don't get the business.
When having been trusted by your customer to deliver, they know that you are moving heaven and earth to get them what you promised them.
Remember that the relationship is a two way one - both parties have a role to play to make the relationship great - each party must show trust in the other, get to understand the other, and show patience with the other.
Posted by Nathan Jones at April 8, 2006 12:48 PM
1. Lovemark attributes
Posted by Sean at April 8, 2006 2:58 PM
When the customer feels guilty even "thinking" of doing business with your competitor!
Posted by Nerio Vakil at April 9, 2006 12:23 AM
Some great responses here and I agree with much of this - I do feel that the answers given are pretty one sided.
Steve asked "What are the characteristics of a great customer relationship?" - Like all great relationships it's a two way thing so it also worth exploring what our customers do/don't do for us to.
Customers must bring in more than they cost - I work in IT and often the customers that cost the most (problems, support, escalations etc) are often the ones that are not bringing in that much money. This may sound brutal but these drags often stop you delivering truely exceptional service elsewhere.
Customers should stretch you, not with problems, but with new ideas or taking your products that little bit further. Sounds good but this is typically a very small part of your customer base
Other areas - great customers do business on an ethical professional level - they pay their bills on time, they don't abuse your staff etc
One of the biggest problems with customer service is that often internal management has a mental block about sacking poor customers - Companies carry on battling on. I guess there is an argument that the competition will get in (let them! - use a lousy customer to drag the down not you). The reality is that this does more to destroy good customer service than anything else.
Partly this is down to my old favorite argument of tangible income Vs intangible costs - it's easy to see the revenue but it is incredibly difficult to add up the cost of one lousy customer.
Posted by PaulH at April 9, 2006 1:51 AM
Empowerment vs. Possession, this is the basis of a great relationship. No pandering rules, no manipulative activites, an emotional bond is built on the intension to empower and active the genius / gifts of the other person.
Posted by Wendy at April 9, 2006 6:46 AM
kp, love the "first responder" idea.
Posted by tom peters at April 9, 2006 2:56 PM
Great customer relationships definitely take time. Unremitting communication that is unbroken and continuous throughout its entire length, great or small, helps.
Posted by VK Narayanan at April 9, 2006 3:39 PM
Simple - Being Human and Laughter. In fact just being human should cover it!
Posted by Craig Jones at April 10, 2006 3:38 AM
Also MONEY, Mr supplier (global/local or otherwise)does what he does for money - Mr supplier is nice (customer relationship!) to Mr customer because (maybe sub-consciously) - Mr customer pays him money - The End!
Posted by Craig Jones at April 10, 2006 6:02 AM
Relationships are first and foremost about listening.
You have to be able to listen to the other person or party, and gain their trust. Most of the time, someone just needs you to listen, you don't have to even recommend anything. In listening you can build trust, and then when they do ask for help, you can intervene.
I also agree with Sivarman that canned solutions are horrible to relationships. My best two customer service stories came from American Express, and because of that I'm a customer for life. In both occasions they took the time to listen to me, whereas the other guys (Visa/MasterCard never bothered responding).
Posted by George Daouros at April 10, 2006 8:20 AM
I think the most important thing is respect. For any relationship to work, there has to be mutual respect. Where customers are concerned, I think companies can (and must, really) earn the respect of their customers by first treating their customers with respect.
Posted by John Ounpuu at April 10, 2006 11:07 AM
pass me the sick bag!... this page has more platituteds per square inch than ???
a good customer relationship is defined as being able to charge the maximum possible for the least amount of customer attrition.
Posted by onehandclapping at April 10, 2006 11:47 AM
I will be there with you until the end.
Posted by Liz Strauss at April 10, 2006 8:51 PM
Geez, Liz that's even more cynicism than I can muster at 63.
Posted by tom peters at April 11, 2006 2:12 AM
I think what has been expressed very well in this thread has been the clear message that customer relationships are about BOTH the emotional connection around partnering with your key customers but also a hard nosed business attitude that determines who you are going to make a shed load of money from and how you are going to do it.
The key to success is having both these views operating in synch and not against each other
Posted by PaulH at April 11, 2006 5:11 AM
Posted by Dan W at April 11, 2006 8:48 AM
"a good customer relationship is defined as being able to charge the maximum possible for the least amount of customer attrition."
Is lack of attrition at the top price the highest thing to aim for in a customer relationship? Is success in a relationship defined only by not leaving the relationship? Can't a relationship be strengthened, resulting in things like more purchases, fewer complaints, more referrals, etc. etc.?
Posted by Steve Yastrow at April 11, 2006 9:03 AM
"A business that does not show a profit is socially irresponsible...
(But) the worship of high profit margin is likely to damage-if not destroy-the business."
I think a litmus test for a majority of customer relationships is this:
-Does your customer sell your product for you?
If not, why not? Fix it.
If so, why so? Enhance it.
Posted by DUST!N at April 11, 2006 11:45 AM
simple.. its good old plain loyalty at all costs !! :)-
Posted by /pd at April 13, 2006 12:03 PM
Do more than is expected or required, care more than you should, and always put the customer's success and needs first.
Posted by Jim at April 17, 2006 8:08 PM
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