Updated: Dec 30, 2021
Through my professional roles, I have been fortunate enough to gain valuable insight into business, sales and marketing. Prior to my career move into coaching, my definition of a customer relationship used to be -
A customer is someone who needs to be influenced, persuaded and convinced to buy my product/service
Customer relationships are solely built to secure business
After spending some time in the coaching world, my views began to shift. Although I still had my coaching services to sell, I moved away from the buy-sell dynamics and began to look at client relationships simply as human relationships.
With this change in perspective, I realized, I ultimately began forming deeper, more meaningful, and connected client relationships. There was genuine affinity and true understanding that developed that was holistic in nature. Primary focus was always the client, their concerns, needs, goals and objectives while selling was secondary. Clients bought and stayed long term partly because of the success they achieved but also due to the support, trust and empathy they received.
Customer relationships are after all human relationships.
Here is some of what else I learnt about human relationships -
Active listening matters
Active listening is critical in relationships, unfortunately most aren’t very good listeners, even when they think they are. They are either busy on their phones while talking to someone, eating their dinner or checking their facebook, or simply busy thinking about what they’re going to say once the person finishes talking. When we multitask and are distracted while conversing, we are not actively listening. We make people feel frustrated, ignored, dismissed and even angry. On the contrary, when we give them our full attention, they feel heard, inspired and fulfilled. We notice much more, what they are saying and even what they are not saying.
Empathy is essential
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes to understand their feelings, thoughts and perspective. And when you are trying to build a relationship, whether it's with your clients, co-workers, team or employees, empathy goes a long way. It can help foster mutual respect, cooperation and support helping people get past their toughest challenges and succeed. It builds a genuine rapport between two people empowering people to build an open and honest relationship. If anyone has been resistant to change, empathy can inspire them to make decisions and take action.
Trust Is critical
Trust is an integral part of any relationship. Without that, quality relationships do not happen. Be it personally or professionally, trust is earned slowly. It is built when you are transparent, honest and open with someone. When your words match your actions consistently, when you show up on time, meet deadlines and respect people’s boundaries. Once people know you are reliable and truly care about their well-being and success as opposed to only yours, they will be willing to do business with you again and again. Not only that, they will also refer others to you. Relationships last long when there is trust.
Support is important
Supportive relationships are a source of positive energy, learning and growth. Helping and supporting people through their ideas, goals, successes and failure builds connectedness, loyalty and trust. People become more communicative and open to sharing with each other.
Empowerment is key
Change is not easy for most. People feel nervous about what lies ahead, they get overwhelmed by the fear of the unknown. When people change it's because they feel motivated, empowered and supported. Empowering someone in their ability lifts them up, gives them the courage and confidence they need to make good decisions for themselves and then power to move forward.
Customers are humans, no matter where they are in their journey. They could be prospects, current or returning clients, either way, they’re interested not only in your product but also how you deliver the human experience via your sales, marketing and customer service.