When I look back at my days as a single able-bodied man, I can’t help but think of similarities between dating and business.
From the first nervous introductions leading all the way to the awkward goodbye, it takes a little practice to shed the embarrassing denials.
If you’re stuck in this awkward phase with your clients and you can’t get in harmony, or it feels like your customer is right and you are left handed, here are 5 tips to break the gridlock.
1) Acknowledge that your customer is right.
Early in your interactions with a potential customer, there are two opportunities for friction between (a) Identifying a problem, (b) Communicating the problem, and (c) Suggesting a solution. The customer can either disagree with the problem or disagree with your solution.
Fight the urge to convince. Instead, build on areas where there is harmony, and work on your solutions. After you have proven your successes you can revisit old opinions.
2) Understand your customer’s desired outcome.
Your customers’ needs should drive your business. Before creating a solution, you should always identify the customer’s current state and their desired outcome. This applies whether you’re building an app for millions or running a babysitting company.
Once you know what your customer has and what they want, you can avoid providing solutions that they don’t need or giving tools they already have.
3) Re-align your company / yourself to focus on the success of your customers.
For many companies, there’s a tendency to focus on the bottom line. In the process, most of these companies neglect the experience of the customer.
Beyond the monetary value, a loyal customer is an advocate for your company. Once you re-align your company and employees to focus fully on creating memorable customer experiences, your customers will build a relationship with you and encourage others to do the same.
4) Communicate consistently and transparently.
Communication that is open and transparent is the foundation of a strong long-lasting customer relationship. It is critical to work on this foundation by being honest, trustworthy, and responsive. You will find that when you are, your customers will believe in you and be loyal to your business.
5) Avoid deflecting and reflecting.
Don’t reflect a solution.
If you provide the same services in the same way your customers can provide themselves, you might need to re-evaluate your business.
Don’t deflect a problem.
If your customer mentions a challenge they have with your services, don’t use this interaction as an opportunity to point out problems with other services or refer to a time before your service when things were worse.
Use all problems as opportunities to improve, and all your solutions as opportunities to impress.