In today’s world of con-jobs and an anything-goes-to-earn-a-buck attitude, truer words were never spoken. The simple fact remains that we are all in the business of selling something. Selling a product, selling a service, selling advice, selling memories – we all have something we want people to buy, or buy into. We spend time, money, all sorts of resources virtual roundtables to market, market, market, in the hopes that we will attract customers. But what happens after potential customers show an interest? What do we do to get them to bite, what do we do to keep them coming back?
Like Mr. Antin states, Loyalty is the key. You want to take your customer by the hand, let them know you are going to take good care of them, and then do it. Set their mind at ease. Make them absolutely, 100% positive that you (or your product, service, etc) are the perfect solution and that no one else will do. I have found a list of “7 Steps to Building Successful Relationships”, and I honestly believe that they can be applied to business relationships as well as personal. With the help of these steps, you will be well on your way to building business relationships that can last a lifetime.
Note that I will be treating these steps through the eyes of a designer; that is, someone offering a service. Please remember that these steps can be applied to any number of business situations.
Accept the other person’s feelings and opinions.
This person is your customer, or your client. They are paying you. Therefore, they have a rather large stake in what happens to the project they’ve hired you for. Remember this. Remember, also, that you do not have to agree with them. But always, always, ALWAYS be open to hearing what they have to say!
Openly communicate feelings and opinions.
This is an extension of number one. Just like the client has a stake in a project, so do you! If you think something won’t work, won’t look right, or if something doesn’t sit well with you, please – speak up. After all, the finished product is a reflection of you as a business. But, please try to spare their egos – explain to them why something might not work, and always offer one or more alternatives to smooth ruffled feathers. And always remember to compromise…
Respect is vital to relationships.
Both people need to show respect. Listening and genuinely trying to understand each other are two ways of showing respect (see numbers one and two). If your customer feels that you respect him or her, then you will have a MUCH easier time. Communication will be a lot smoother. The client will be much more agreeable and likely to take your opinions and thoughts seriously.
Of course you respect yourself as a professional. But I’m keeping this one in here because it’s true that some people don’t respect themselves enough to speak up, to keep themselves from getting stepped all over. You are worth every penny for your services. Don’t let anyone try to scam you (because, sadly, people will try!). Don’t let your clients run you ragged. Set boundaries and follow them. If you do, you will have a lot more success and a lot less stress (hey look, I’m a poet!).
Resolve differences with the other person straightforwardly.
I, myself, have a problem with this. I’m willing to admit it. I HATE confrontation. I’m more like an ostrich – just bury my head in the dirt and wait for it to be over. That, unfortunately, is not a smart way to do business. Avoiding the problem just gives you a bigger headache and leaves the customer with a bad, bad taste in their mouth about their experience with you. If you have a problem, give your fears over to the business gods and SPEAK UP. But do so diplomatically. As a passionate person, I get flared up easily. Thank goodness for my hubby, who is forever the diplomat – he helps me word my emails so that they are not confrontational or defensive. (If you need someone like that, by all means, go right ahead! Whatever works!)