Elizabeth Bradley, Head of Sales at Bibby Financial Services Ireland, discusses the importance of building strong client relationships.
Powerful customer relationships are essential to business success. But, they aren’t built overnight. Just like personal relationships, it’s important to cultivate and nurture customer relationships. When organisations develop strong relationships with their customers, it can lead to loyal clients, positive word of mouth and increased sales. On the other hand, while meaningful relationships require time and effort to build, they can fall apart quickly. Relationships taken for granted can deteriorate in a flash. The key philosophy to remember is that strong relationships are built around making the other person feel important. When you accomplish this on an ongoing basis, success will follow.
At Bibby Financial Services Ireland, we have an internal process called ‘Our Service Promise’, which extends to all operations in 14 countries around the world. The key elements are honesty, understanding, strong communications and excellent customer services – the basics of great relationships, which can be extended to any business in any sector.
Be honest, clear and simple
In any business relationship, clarity and transparency help to build trust and protect against misunderstanding. People appreciate being spoken to in clear, concise language, and it’s important that objectives and goals are discussed at the beginning of any working relationship to make sure that everyone understands what’s involved and what is being asked of them.
Of course, customers will always want to go back to the business that they trust. They will feel like you are not misleading them or are just out there to make a profit from them!
Understand and support your business
By understanding your clients and their business needs, it allows you to work with them in a proactive and responsive way. When you begin working with a client, it’s crucial to perform a ‘deep dive’ of their business – it’s only by understanding their business that you will learn how you can add value to what they are doing. Getting to grips with every aspect of their business, key trading periods, how they engage staff and what their workflow is, is vital as you get a real sense of how they work and how you can support them.
Maintain strong communications
Business relationships are no different to any other relationship, insofar as they should be based on understanding and communication. With so many new ways of communicating with clients these days, it’s no longer enough to put in a comfort call every so often. From email, phone, social media and newsletters to instant messaging services such as Slack or Google Hangouts, there’s no excuse for not contacting clients and keeping up to date with what’s happening in their business.
Excellent customer services
The role of customer service varies depending on the nature of the products or services, the size of the company, the organisational structure and other variables. In some companies, the sales staff performs the customer service function. In other organisations, there is a separate department to handle customer service, whether it is in-house or outsourced.
Regardless of who performs this function, customer service plays a vital role in building and maintaining customer relationships. They do this by demonstrating professionalism (competence and skill), showing a personal interest in their customers and being creative and resourceful in solving problems or answering questions. While emotions are a large part of the prospect’s buying process, keeping them as customers requires more logic than emotion. That’s why it is especially important to provide prompt follow-up and follow through on every customer request. More than anything else, that focus and commitment builds loyalty and long-term relationships with customers.
For more information about Bibby Financial Services Ireland, visit the website.