We’ve all been in situations when we meet someone for the first time and we instantly hit it off. We can’t put our finger on it, but we immediately like the other person. We feel at ease with each other and there is an immediate connection.
This type of connection doesn’t happen all the time. Normally, it takes longer to build this 'long term rapport'. However, when we do succeed, relationships can last a long time. We may not see each other for a long time; yet we can pick up from where we left off every time.
Having great connections with customers is what we all ultimately want. We need to saviour them, nurture them and develop more of them. So, how can we get there?
According to John Timperley (in his book ‘Network your way to success’), there are 6 steps we can take to build superb customer relationships.
- Acknowledge – We’re all familiar with the idea that first impressions count. This is where we meet someone for the first time and unconsciously check each other out. As a result, we decide if we want to have a conversation. When meeting potential customers, we need to show we are happy to meet them with a welcoming smile, pleasant greetings, good eye contact and a firm and friendly handshake.
- Understanding – As we lead into a conversation, we begin to learn about each other so it is natural both people form an opinion about the other person. So, we need to remember to keep an open-mind and focus on really listening and showing interest in the customer.
- Acceptance – The first 3 stages can happen in a single interaction. As a result, the acceptance stage can be a real make or break moment. This is when both parties decide if they will continue the conversation or perhaps progress to an appointment. I like to interpret this phase as the time when the possibility of an opportunity begins to open up.
- Respect – We can relate to the idea that “respect must be earned, not demanded”. Stage 4 is when the relationship starts to blossom and both people have something to bring to the party. There is an emotional tie and mutual respect between the two people, so the relationship becomes more secure.
- Trust – The fifth step comes when you have confidence in the other person and they have in you. There is an unspoken commitment between you. Your customer feels you will keep your promise and deliver what you said you will do, sorting out any problem if any arise.
- Bond – This is the point we all strive to reach with our clients. It is when there is a firm level of respect and trust between both parties, with each person feeling they can rely on the other.
No matter how great it can feel to get to this point of the relationship, it’s important to never allow ourselves to become complacent and take our customers for granted. Because if we break the bond, it is far more difficult to repair.