7 Simple Ways Business Owners Can Strengthen Key Relationships
In business, as in life, a lot hangs on the important relationships that you are able to create. While there are some standard practices that you should be sure to observe that are more or less expected in business communications, small business owners should also be cognizant of some very simple verbal and visual cues they give off that have the potential to strengthen a relationship. Most of these tips are grounded in basic politeness, but in the often brusque world of business, this can be less standard than one might assume.
Say thank you. Being grateful for the effort someone puts in to working for you might be a given, but that doesn’t mean you should leave things unsaid. Saying thank you for the work of others reassures them that you truly value the work that they have one for you and that you understand they put effort and time into following up with your request.
Respond to physical cues. Pay attention to the body language of others during meetings and business events, and you will be able to tell a lot about how they are feeling and responding to your ideas. If someone is giving positive feedback, but they look or uncomfortable, you should think about why that might be the case. It’s possible that they are exhausted from a commute or a lack of sleep, and being aware of their state and how it might affect your interactions can give you a clearer picture of your relationship.
Follow up on promises. If you make a promise to a business partner, you should absolutely make sure that you are able to fulfill it. For this reason, you should not make promises lightly, even under duress, if you feel that you will not be able to deliver something that the client wants it is better to be honest about your capabilities than to promise something that you can’t give and wind up losing face (and potentially losing business as well).
Check up on the quality of your work. If you really want to know whether or not the job you did for a client went well or not, then the most effective and most logical way to do so is to ask. Asking how something went is a good strategy because it demonstrates to your clients that you actually care. In the event that you get negative feedback, you should value it and try to respond accordingly in order to fix the issue and preserve the relationship.
Anticipate the needs of your client. You don’t need to bend over backwards or let yourself be taken advantage of, but you should make an effort to think like your customer so that you can better address their needs. The better you understand what problem they have and how your products can fix it, the more business you can create and the more loyal and satisfied your customers will ultimately be.
Be flexible, within reason. As a business owner, it is part of your job to identify when something is able to be let go and dealt with and when a problem is a real issue. One of the areas that this discipline should be applied is in meeting the needs of your customers. In the event that they have a holdup, need to reschedule a meeting or modify an order, if you can afford to let it slide then do so, while informing them that you are willing to comply because of the importance of the relationship. You should let them know when you are doing something extra for them in order to make them feel appreciated, as well as avoid setting a standard for extra attention that they will constantly demand in the future.
Consider a referral program. In the event that you are working with another business, passing on clients to them who can use their complementary services is a great way to strengthen the bond between your businesses, as well as create more value that they could lose if they break off the relationship. Adding value in the form of referrals to a relationship founded on politeness and mutual understanding will keep it going strong when you need it to the most.
Photo Credit to Adam Grabek on Flickr