Fostering business relationships with customers

16th Feb 2022

Customer loyalty is a two way relationship. It works on mutual dependency, respect and trust. For readers of MyCustomer these are hardly new concepts. But how well are these ideals baked into the fabric of our organisations? Let me tell you a story.

An organisation announced that it was appointing someone to strengthen its ties with customers, to be the liaison between the organisation and those who used its services. Not being a great fan of a recent organisational name change a friend of one of our colleagues messaged, congratulating the individual on their appointment and suggesting that one of their first acts might be to review and revise the name change. They received no reply.

Now it is quite easy to understand how in the flurry of a new role messages might have been mislaid or intended responses missed. It’s equally understandable that the message may have been seen purely as one of congratulations. Nevertheless, however mild the original message, here was someone who was signalling unease at an organisational decision. And when customers are uneasy they are less likely to remain loyal.

Let’s state for the record that the customer is not always right. Organisations generally make decisions based on a whole raft of factors that an individual customer may not be privy to. And those decisions are generally made in the best interests of the organisation and its members, having due regard for customers, suppliers, and others. Or at least if they aren’t then the directors may not be acting in accordance with their duties as set down in the Companies Act 2006.

So how do you foster a mutually beneficial business relationship with your customers? Here are three suggestions

  • The customer may not always be right but their concerns are legitimate to them. So make customer liaison part of everyone’s role and ensure that all concerns are collated and reviewed.
  • Customer reviews are good to have but don’t put your need to have them over good relations. For example, in the run up to Christmas when something ordered could be a present don’t send out multiple requests for reviews before the Christmas period. And at any time, don’t request reviews of a product on the day of ordering online, well before the customer has a chance to receive or use the product. Either can be seen by the customer as needy badgering.
  • Establish a genuine dialogue. Far too many surveys can be seen by the customer as a way of supporting existing decisions rather than as true fact finders. A two way relationship means give and take. You may not always like what you hear but those are the responses which just might help you to turn your organisation into one with loyal and supportive customers. 

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