I’ve been speaking and writing about how important creating relationship is with your customers–current, potential, or future. The 2008 CSO Insight’s Sales Performance Optimization Survey (14th edition) found the #1 reason companies win deals is because of their relationships with prospects. And conversely, a major reason they lose deals is because of the competition’s relationship with the prospect.
As I’ve often said, what distinguishes one company from another in today’s competitive marketplace is its relationship with the customer–in other words, customer service.
This survey also found that product superiority dropped down to the #3 reason companies win deals, with just 35% of companies citing it versus 56% who say relationships drive their wins.
And once again who has the awesome responsibility of creating that relationship with the customer? Every employee at your organization, including yourself. In that moment of truth which is:
Every contact a customer has with you
Every time a customer contacts anyone in your company
Every experience a customer has with your company’s service strategy
Every time a customer interacts with your CEO
is when a decision is made by the customer as to whether to do business with your company or not. In those first three sentences it is determined whether this is going to be a good or bad experience, a waste of your time, a frustration, an interaction that will not get you what you want or need or any resolution. In those first three sentences!
It’s worth repeating that a customer doesn’t care what you know until they know you care. First fix the customer, then fix the problem
So how do you create relationship with customers? I believe it’s a training issue (but then I do have a bias on the people side).
First, by treating customers (internal and external) with dignity and respect.
Second, by listening to what they say, acknowledging what you heard, and responding accordingly.
And Third, by delighting them, and by that I mean:
Inform and Educate
Establish Expertise and Professionalism
Diffuse, if or when Necessary
Escalate, if Required
Take Ownership of Call
I say it’s a training issue because we all know how to talk, but very few of us know how to communicate. Communication means that a message was sent, it was delivered, and most importantly, it was understood.
We are also poor listeners, even though it’s not necessarily our fault. Because we live in a fast paced society, we listen for the pause to jump in and take a customer where we think they want to go–and we may be wrong! This brings them back to their initial presentation and takes time for you to listen again and take them where they do want to go.
There are also representational systems whereby we imbibe information. Knowing what your customer’s preferred mode of receiving information allows you to respond in the same way thus establishing rapport (connection) and the beginning of trust. You hear the expressions, ‘we’re on the same page’ or ‘we’re in synch’ which means you are on the same wave length so to speak.
This is where empathetic responsiveness is most impactful. My working definition is the imaginative transposing of oneself into the thinking, feeling and acting of another and so structuring the world as he does.
Wouldn’t you love to hear someone respond to you something like this, ‘Thanks so much for calling, how may I help you? So if I understand you’re upset because _____, is that correct? My name is Rosanne and I’d feel the same way if that happened to me. Let’s see what we can do to remedy this situation for you.’