“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close, that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.”
Today, a client may be in another time zone, or even on the other side of the globe, but thanks to new innovations in technology, interacting with the clients has become easier due to the different communication channels available. However, technology can’t replace the personal touch in customer management. Strengthening customer relationship is more challenging with long distances, but the following essentials – connection, trust, responsiveness, listening and reliability – could help make it strong.
The first thing we need to ask ourselves when interacting with a new customer should be “What can I do for this customer?” For this, we have to learn more about our customers, their organization and their challenges. This will enable us to understand and help the customer better. The customer would also start feeling that they are doing business with a company that values them, more than just counting their dollars.
Remember that your company always looks brighter from behind a smile. When you interact with a customer – just remember to smile. Even if you’re on the phone, callers can hear a smile in your voice. Keeping your tone warm and light makes it even better. Once the rapport is established, one could make conversations, for example, about their day, weather and even their favourite sports team. It also helps to connect with the customers through social media platforms.
Honesty is incredibly important in establishing trust — both being honest with the client and with yourself. Customer trust can waver when mistakes are made. This is the time when you have to face the situation with grace and confidence. Show the customer that you keep them before everything else by assuring them that the mistake will be promptly rectified and ensure the same. This not only wins back the trust but also strengthens the bond between customer and you.
As Benjamin Franklin says that “Never ruin an apology with an excuse”, offer explanation when mistakes are committed and don’t give excuses. A simple, genuine apology calms down the demanding customer and allows the space to expand the rapport.
The lack of physical interaction in working as remote consultants/business analysts could be a hindrance in building trust where the client may be even sceptical about the level of effort and dedication you apply to their project, making them somewhat uneasy. With an increase in telecommuting and collaborating from different countries and time zones, the question is how do we trust those we never see? What it takes to build trust involves intention, desire, competence and consistency.
The best relationships are established when the customer believes that you are knowledgeable and adequately skilled to perform your role. However, the most important thing in building trust is to show that you are always responsible and responsive.
When a client sends an email, respond promptly, say, within an hour. Even something as simple as “We just got your email. Give us a day to look into it,” will show your customer that you are involved. The longer it takes to get back to a customer, the less important the customer feels. ‘I will keep you updated …’ the most important part of this statement is the follow-up. Tell customers when and how you’ll keep them updated on actions on things that are not yet resolved. All customers like a quick turnaround time and to fully understand that, you should put yourself in the customer’s shoes.
Communication skill plays a very important role in our response. Understanding the customer pulse and situation from their email communication is not only a skill but also shows how well we are equipped in our knowledge of the customer, i.e., their business, strategies, challenges, how they get things done within the company, and more. You need to respond appropriately to the email which makes the customer at ease even before the work is completed.
You need to gauge the situation and react accordingly. There are a few situations that cannot be helped with emails and that’s the time to pick up the phone or connect via web meeting to talk. Customers appreciate that!
Good conversations begin from listening well. Customers can easily know how well you are listening to them when they’re describing their needs. Keen listening helps the customer to be assured that you have understood their needs and resolve their problems.
Listening patiently sends a message to the customer: “I care for what you say”.
Confidence is contagious. Customers will have confidence in you only when you show confidence, and of course, consistently deliver what you have committed. But, don’t promise anything that you can’t deliver. Making yourself available to the customer when they need you the most is what is appreciated highly and that’s what makes you reliable. The customer can then sleep comfortably over issues with the confidence that you will quickly resolve them. In short, be predictable, reachable, and reliable.