Every business in the world sells something. They sell goods or services in order to address a need or desire of a consumer, and to achieve a profit in the process (at the very least only to ensure its sustainability).
Before the introduction of many modern technologies (the internet specifically), focussing solely on quality goods or services in order to make profit was the common thing to do. Business owners could often hard sell their goods/services without much thought about the long-term impact it would have – especially if they had a local monopoly on the goods/services they provided.
Ever since the advent of the internet and parallel advancements in global infrastructure, focussing solely on making the buck without concern for the individuals behind the product will likely be detrimental to your business’s profit. Here’s why:
People speak: Word-of-mouth has always played a role in marketing, but because of the reach of the internet and the speed at which consumers share their experiences, disgruntled consumers are much more likely to voice their discontent and have a wider audience who are listening. When people feel like they are just considered to be ‘somebody to sell to’, it becomes very difficult to keep them coming back.
The world is smaller: Even as little as 10 years ago, the basis of starting a business was “Location, location, location.” Now? Not so much. In fact, with online orders and quick delivery becoming a staple in the buying repertoire of every-day consumers, location seems to have gone out the window. If your product/service does not satisfy, you could even end up losing business to someone on the other side of the country.
There is greater ethical awareness: Because the world’s information is available at the tap of a button, selling a product or service with disregard for the environmental consequences can quickly turn a consumer against you. People are also much more likely to realise when they are being manipulated because scepticism has become a necessary defence in a world of manipulated information and half-truths.
One-size-fits-all fits very few: Providing a standardised service in our modern society largely neglects the individual needs of consumers. When you use the same approach for each and every client, they are bound to be unsatisfied when individual elements of your service don’t fulfil their individual needs.
Instead, business owners will be well advised to turn their attention to their customers and clients in order to build relationships with them. There are a few ways in which this can be accomplished. Here are a few tips to facilitate the process, from simply having clients to building authentic relationships:
Ask them about their business and their needs: Many entrepreneurs believe that they have all the answers before they have even asked the questions. Discovering more about your client’s needs and requirements before offering a solution will go a long way towards building trust and will show that you’re not just interested in their money.
Give a little more: One way in which you can be sure to acquire clients and keep them is by offering a little more than the next guy. The thing is that gratitude comes from receiving what is not expected. When you only give clients what they pay for, you might have satisfied clients, but you won’t make them grateful. Where you are able to give more, give more and see the gratitude pouring in (and this doesn’t necessarily have to be resource intensive).
Refer them to specialists: Just as your General Partitioner refers their patients to specialists, so you too can have a network of businesses to whom you are connected and can recommend additional services that do not fall in your scope. Not only are you giving practical steps to your client on how to satisfy their business needs, you are also incentivising good-faith relationships with fellow entrepreneurs who can refer their clients back to you where appropriate. Be careful to choose business partners you are willing to trust, though.
Be transparent and provide a platform: One of the biggest things that can damage trust in the internet generation is by not having a clear platform on which consumers can engage with you – or worse still, deliberately withholding such a platform. Giving your customers/clients a platform through which they can speak to you or provide real commentary on the service you provide can go a long way towards establishing trust. Take constructive criticism to improve your product/offering and give relevant feedback – silence can also damage trust.
Give back: People trust businesses that give back – whether that is by improving a product/service to be more eco-friendly or by getting involved in community projects. Going above and beyond the call of duty not only reflects well on your business but can help you and your employees to de-stress and feel content in making a difference in their local community. Doing good is a proven way of managing anxiety and encouraging better mental health.
How do you plan on building relationships?
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)