Seven Ways to Connect with Customers

Customer Satisfaction

Sometimes it is not enough to provide an outstanding product or service. More often, your personal approach is just as important. Some of the most successful business owners create a unique connection with their customers and prospects by providing their own custom touch to the marketing process.

Below are seven tips on salesmanship that may help you develop a special relationship with potential customers.

  1. Tease Out any “Red Flags”. It may seem counter-intuitive, but an early step may be to look for reasons NOT to do business. Before you give your sales pitch, take time to research your prospective client and forge an honest assessment. Here, any serious “red flags” may immediately come to the surface, giving you the option to walk away before you invest a lot of energy, time and money. In order to accomplish this, have to ask the right questions in an initial survey or meeting and don’t be afraid to dig deep into the answers with follow-ups. Here, you may discover that the customer’s needs and expectations are not a good match for the services you provide or, more importantly, you may set a solid foundation for the legitimate goals that you want to collectively achieve.
  2. Be Responsive. When a customer or potential client reaches out to you be sure to respond, even if the subject seems frivolous or you can’t provide an immediate solution to a problem. Responding in a timely and consistent manner demonstrates your undeniable commitment to a customer’s needs.
  3. Court Your Clients. In order to spark the interest of a potential customer, you may have to develop a way to hook them somehow. This may be by sending them an interesting article that’s related to their business or highlighting a positive customer testimonial and suggesting ways to maximize its effect. In any case, it is also important to give them the time and space to respond and be respectful of their busy schedule.
  4. Make Your Business as “Close to Home” as Possible. The best way to connect with a new client is to use the “corner store” approach, by remembering the little things and shared references to create an maintain a bond. Use casual conversation and genuine interest to discover common missions, places, values, or passions and make the customer feel that she is seen as more than just a potentialdollar sign.
  5. Communicate on Multiple Levels. While it’s often much quicker and less stressful to email, phone conversations and face-to-face meetings can be far more effective in creating and maintaining meaningful connections. Further, it is important to use other means of communication like social media or online customer sites to lend your support and/or help spread the word on your customer’s business.
  6. Focus on the Big Picture and Look Long Term. Sometimes it’s easy to go on a tangent and get lost in a particular small detail, while losing sight of the real goals of a business arrangement. The longer arc of developing a vision for the future is just as essential as the pressing daily tasks which may require immediate attention. Like many things in life, it takes patience to develop fruitful and lasting customer relationships. Resist the temptation to rush the process and bring the relationship to a level it has not naturally matured into. Take the time to explain how your service benefits the prospect over time and exhibit patience in cultivating a business relationship which slowly works towards achieving those goals.
  7. Be Especially Loyal to Your Most Loyal Customers. This is something that is of particular importance here at 33 Dimensions. We see big companies make fantastic offers to “new” customers while excluding those who have been loyal and true over time and this method baffles us. We do the complete opposite and have always had an unwritten policy to offer the absolute best rates to those who have been in good standing for the longest amount of time. While both are important to growing a business, we place a higher stock in maintaining the business relationship with those who have built a positive bond of longevity than be preferential to the “shiny new” prospect.

Avoiding the Alternative Universe

Alternative Universe imageRecently, I made a mistake of omission which set off a chain of unforeseen events. These events caused a lot of problems for my client and resulted in a few dozen unplanned hours of problem-solving for myself and my company. Initially, it did not appear that there would be much of a disruption to the client’s service but things then began unraveling quickly with new issues seemingly arising out of nowhere. In my frustration, I found myself doing something that I absolutely loath when done by others. I started using the “alternative universe” excuse.

This is the practice of white-washing situations with hindsight justification. “If I had been told the facts of ‘B’, ‘C’, and ‘D’, then I certainly would have approached ‘A’ much differently and all these problems would have been avoided.” Now, this was certainly a true argument, as many of the subsequent problems could have been avoided if the client had disclosed all of the relevant information. Still, this was totally irrelevant to the subsequent situation, as it is impossible to jump into that alternative universe where all problems are averted.

This foray into the scientifically unproven domain has become a trend these days. You hear it often from the losing side of a sports contest, and most especially, in the political world. “If I had been in charge, we’d now be in much better shape right now…” or “…things may be bad now, but they would’ve been so much worse if not for my brilliant policies…” These statements are usually made as absolute fact and as a way to divert attention from the reality at hand.

The truth is, we only live in this one reality and we have to own the decisions we make here.This is especially true for small business owners like myself who don’t have much luxury for academic exercises and hypothetical situations. Not all our decisions will be correct, but once made they must be embraced either as building blocks for best practices or lessons learned for the future.

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