HR & Management

The customer relationship in numbers – Three top tips to perfecting your partnerships

6 min read

23 May 2016

With 14 years experience in the technology sector, I often get asked what the most valuable thing I’ve learnt is. My answer never changes – getting to grips with the business/customer relationship.

Because whether you’re still in the startup phase, or pushing your way towards a multi-million pound turnover, your customers are what will help you get to where you want to be. To put it simply, without them, you don’t exist.

So how do you turn your customer relationships from Montague and Capulet, to a solidified, mutually beneficial offering?

1. Understand, personalise and collaborate

First things first, understand what it is your customer wants. Whether this is through collecting data across various touch points, or physically picking up the phone and having a conversation with them, it’s undeniably the place to start.

Once you know what it is your customer is looking for, you can put together a strategy of how to achieve and deliver it in the most beneficial way for them. Companies often make the mistake of approaching customers’ all-guns-blazing, risking valuable time, money and resource in what could easily be the wrong approach for that individual.

As a business, your customers are going to vary massively. Although they share one common ground – all being interested in you, this may be the only factor they have in common. Take some time to learn about your customer base as smaller groups, with the ultimate goal being 1:1 delivery of information, in their preferred way.

The most important aspect of the customer relationship is in the phrase – the relationship. Collaborating as a team to meet the same end goal not only ensures your customers feel valued, but makes the process highly streamlined and ensures you’re never straying too far from the customer vision.

Read more about collaborating:

2. Be transparent

In any successful business relationship, transparency is the key to establishing trust and building a base for long-term loyalty – two essential factors in today’s competitive business climate.

You’re bound to disagree with your customer base at some points but just remember your main objective is to keep customers happy and on side. A person is not “your customer”, even when they are buying your product or service.

The embarrassing truth will always come back to bite you; most likely splashed across social platforms for everyone to see. If something is not working be honest and change it before the problem escalates beyond your control.

You may have the best solution on the market but you need to remember to your customers, you are just one service provider amongst many, this means that anything you can do to set yourself apart from the crowd will only go on to benefit you.

3. Settle for nothing less than consistency

A customer relationship is not a one night stand; you don’t do business and then cut ties. Memories can be powerful. If the experience is poor, what reason does the customer have to get in touch when a new product launches later down the line?

The combination of one bad customer experience and the power of word of mouth could spell disaster for a brand. This is the reality of today’s customer economy and the reason why these relationships matter more than ever. It’s about providing a consistent and seamless customer experience across all communication channels to respond to consumers efficiently and effectively and ultimately benefit the business’ bottom line. 

Going the extra mile may be a well-known customer service mantra but it’s not something that brands always work towards. Investing that extra bit of love and attention into your customer relationships will strengthen the bond. Even if customers don’t mention it, there’s no doubt they will notice and share their positive experience with other people.

Whether you’re busy focusing on your six month or six year business plan, your customers are changing daily. The best business relationships should be built on a solid understanding, meanwhile being open to evolution and adaption as people and the industry changes. Having a ‘one size fits all’ customer offering will ultimately leave people feeling unappreciated and result in them finding a better offering elsewhere – normally with one of your competitors.

As the business world evolves – spurred on by technology and increased globalisation – successful collaboration has never played a more important role.

Nick Peart is MD EMEA at Zendesk.