To be successful today, a great product and great service just aren’t enough anymore. In fact they’re just your bare minimum–your ticket to entry if you even want to have any customers.  In today’s market, if you don’t provide either one of those, you won’t be in business very long. It is tough out there, and you need to realize that the game has changed. Competition is stronger than it has ever been; customers are choosier about where, when and how they spend their money; and technology is creating a world in which our customers can actually do their buying without us.

Grow your business and expand your customer base

In order to grow your business and expand your customer base, you need to take it one step further and you need to build relationships with your customers. You need to be working alongside and with your customers to help their businesses grow. So isn’t serving your customers the same as building a relationship with your customers? Well, technically no; service is part of building a relationship. It’s just one step in a more complex process that creates an emotional bond, a feeling of value, and a long-term connection that enhances both your customers’ and your business.

Adopt a relationship culture

Moving beyond a service culture to that of a relationship culture will have a huge payoff and a dramatic impact on your business. Reaching your growth goals is easier, sales cycles shorten, and working with customers is far more rewarding.

But to develop a relationship with your customers you have to be willing to get uncomfortable, willing to truly invest in the success of your customers, and willing to share your expertise and  knowledge to help your customers achieve their goals.

You have to be willing to:
  1. Tune In – Customers ask us for products and services all the time that they don’t really want and they don’t really need. It is our job to take the time to tune in and really listen. We need to ask the questions that help us understand our customers, realize what exactly they are asking for (not the product or service) and what exactly their ultimate objectives and goals are.
  2. Know What You Offer -You have to understand your business, products and services before you can even begin to help your customers. Take the time to invest in your own knowledge about what problems or challenges your products or services solve–what benefits they provide.  Remember, you’re the expert. The better you understand what you offer, the better you will be able to customize solutions to help your customers.
  3. Push Out Of Your Comfort Zone – To have a relationship with your customers you have to be willing to be proactive and go beyond your comfort zone. You have to project a “kind and approachable” manner of authority. Remember, your customers are looking to you, so you need to enthusiastically step into the role of advocate, advisor and caretaker.
  4. Offer Opportunity – Your best customers should rarely, if ever, have to come to you. It is your job to keep in touch, understand the changes in their businesses and their lives, and offer ideas and opportunities for them to move things to the next level. Your customers should see you as a valued member of their team; one who comes to the table with innovative ideas and opportunities to grow their businesses.

Yes, in today’s economy service is not enough. You need to move beyond great customer service to building a true, mutually beneficial and long-term relationship with your customers.