There is a lot of talk about the importance of building relationships in the business world but it is worth examining exactly what a ‘business relationship’ really is.
A ‘business relationship’ is a connection or association between two parties, one of whom is often a customer of the other.
The propagation of that relationship relies on one of those parties (usually the one who is not the customer) maintaining constant contact with the other party either by phone, correspondence or in person. Whether the other party wants that contact or not is irrelevant because it must be maintained on a regular basis for the relationship to have any chance of survival.
In the real world we call this kind of relationship ‘stalking’!!!!
Now for those of you who are automatically defending yourselves by saying “my customer relationships aren’t like that – my customers love me and wouldn’t even want to try and do business without me” – stop it! That is a classic stalker defense!
Hyperbole aside, the point I am making is that business relationships are manufactured, fragile and ultimately not as important as you think because they are not what you are judged on.
You are judged on response – regardless of how strong you think your relationships are.
Let me explain. You don’t contact your customers for fun. You always have a business agenda underpinning any contact you make. Likewise, no customer will ever contact you for fun. They have a very specific reason for getting in touch and your ability to respond to that reason appropriately will determine whether or not you hang on to their business.
Failure to respond is the number one reason for customers leaving and yet we continue to underestimate its importance. I guess we think we don’t need to worry about our response given the fantastic ‘business relationships’ we have been able to build up.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking your ‘business relationship’ built on all of that continuous contact you have made will cut you some slack next time your customer gets in touch. The reality is that the contact from the customer is the only one that matters and your response means absolutely everything!
The age-old complaints of ‘didn’t get back to me’; ‘didn’t take me seriously’ and ‘didn’t seem to care’ are the catchphrases of poor response and the harbingers of falling profits.