Every interaction is an opportunity to make a positive impact, to share knowledge, and to gain insight into how the client values your product.
People do business with people they like. That’s about the oldest known business strategy! And it still holds true today, particularly in B2B environments, although it may look a little different today than it did back when (quarterly business reviews over a Zoom call versus a two-martini lunch, for example).
Just as any relationship takes time to build, developing a trust with your customers that feels almost like a friendship will take time as well. Fostering these relationships typically falls on an account executive or customer success manager, but should be everyone’s responsibility. In fact, even customer support plays a role in forming the foundation for long-term successful customer engagements.
TeamSupport customer, Michele Schnieder, director of client experience and success at ProfitSword, tells us that, “Building successful customer relationships is not just the responsibility of a few people; it has to be engrained in the mindset of the entire company. Every interaction is an opportunity to make a positive impact, to share knowledge, and to gain insight into how the client values the product.”
Here are five ways you can foster lasting B2B relationships based on customer trust.
Be consistent with touchpoints. Schedule visits, calls, and meetings according to a set schedule. Your customer will be committed to participating and be more likely to come prepared. And hopefully, will come to actually look forward to your interactions. Defining and understanding your clients’ goals from the start adds the structure needed to help you help them. Like the scene from Jerry Maguire where he is bouncing around the locker room, yelling “Help Me, Help You!” It is imperative to meet regularly to check in on progress, and offer ways you can help in case goals have shifted along the way.
Speak of something personal— your pets, car, family, a restaurant you recently experienced. Keep it brief. This will allow the customer to disengage from the business and see you as a "real" person. It may also get them talking as well. Strive to become genuine partners with your clients, not only showing how to utilize your products, but discovering things like what their grandkids’ names are and favorite spots where they go on vacation.
Empathize with the customer and problem solve with them, not for them. If you operate in a proactive manner, anticipating your customer’s needs, and pay attention to signals—using tools like TeamSupport’s Customer Distress Index (CDI™), it’s easier to bring into focus ways you can solve current issues and prevent future ones.
Always be truthful, and always do what you say you are going to do. It sounds simple, but in all of the business of the day might be easy to forget.
Prove your value every day. Ms. Schnieder also advises, “The perceived value of any ‘thing’ is based on a few key elements:
Does the ‘thing’ make our client look (and/or feel) like rock stars? (who doesn’t want to feel like a rock star?!?)
Does the ‘thing’ make their life easier or better in some way?
Does the ‘thing’ trigger inspiration and thoughts that empower higher thinking or does it cause a shift to view something from a different perspective?
All of these things add value, and the ‘things’ will change over time, but they all contribute toward helping our clients become the most successful version of themselves. And when we help them do that, it builds a solid foundation of trust.
Developing working friendships allows for open communication. They see you as a person and not the product and will be more apt to telling you what is going on with the product or service. So, if there is a problem, you will be notified and have a chance to rectify the problem.
This will all help mitigate the risk of churn and ensure long and healthy business relationships.
To learn more about how customer support and customer success can together create “Customers for Life,” watch our webinar hosted by the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) on demand.
This blog was inspired by Whitney Burkhardt, TeamSupport's customer accounting manager.
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