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Updated: Jan 25, 2017
A relationship is a relationship is a relationship. Whether a romantic one or a business one, there’s tons of advice out there about the best ways to win someone over. And just as there’s tons of helpful advice, there’s also a lot of bad advice, too. To avoid the heartbreak, avoid these customer relationship pitfalls:
Ugh, nothing is more annoying than a company that wants to take away your autonomy and independence! As businesses, we don’t get to decide what our customer wants — they do. Not all customers are the same, so take the time to ask for feedback and genuinely listen to what they have to say. Tapping into the voice of your customers can help you discover innovative new ideas for products or services, and uncover small issues before they snowball into something bigger. A customer-centric growth approach will be a boon to you when your competitors might be trying to steamroll your customers into a situation they didn’t ask for.
If you leave a customer waiting for a phone call or ignore their concerns, you’re sending the message that their business doesn’t matter to you. Don’t leave them hanging! Sincerely let a customer know how much you appreciate their business, and always be prompt when returning phone calls or emails. If you don’t have the information they’ve asked for straight away, be open about why there is a delay and when you will be able to get back to them.
While you obviously want to ensure that your customer knows they’re important to you, you also want to give them an appropriate amount of space. Calling three times a day, every day? No, thank you! If you overload a customers with scripted sales calls and pushy emails, you’ll detract from their experience and encourage them to simply tune you out. If you’re wondering about their experience, send them a customer satisfaction survey after your work is complete in order to gauge where you could improve.
A customer relationship is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Take the time to get to know an individual’s needs, concerns, and desires. Learn about how they may differ from other customers, and what makes them them. Sales scripts are a great way to ensure consistency in your communications, but it’s also important to recognize the unique needs of each customer and adjust interactions accordingly. Your customers will notice and appreciate you providing products or services that feel tailored to suit their specific need.
In short: no one likes a flake. Not calling when you say you will and missing deadlines is a quick way to lose a customer. Set clear expectations on timeline and communication from the very beginning, and stick to it. That way, your customers won’t be left wondering.
The key to a good relationship is good old-fashioned communication. Be clear about what your customer should expect, like pricing or next steps. No one likes feeling like they got the run-around, and we’re all familiar with that sinking feeling when you realize someone hasn’t been forthright with you.
If a customer isn’t ready to sign on the dotted line, you need to respect that. By hounding them to get super-serious super-fast, you’re far more likely to send them running for the hills than you are to secure that deal. If you’ve taken the time to thoroughly address their questions and concerns, allow them the time and space to think it through. Particularly for big purchasing decisions, they may need the time to evaluate your offer thoroughly. Ask how much time they need, and then let them know you’ll get back in touch to answer their questions and discuss the opportunity at that point.
Every relationship is bound to have a few bumps in the road, but it’s how you handle the hiccups that determine whether or not your customer will stick around for the long haul. Think of a pothole as an opportunity to prove yourself. If something goes wrong, demonstrate your commitment instead of avoiding their calls or hiding until the storm blows over. For example, an online negative review is an opportunity to improve a relationship with a customer and win over new ones who see your thoughtful responses. When crafting your response, empathize with their situation, correct any misinformation, apologize for any mistakes you made, and briefly outline how you will address the situation. Keep your interactions professional, polite, short, and meaningful, and encourage them to get in touch offline if they have any other questions or concerns.
If it’s over, it’s over. Whether they were courting other offers or they made the decision that they weren’t ready to buy right now, accept the rejection gracefully. Remember that it’s not always personal, and behave professionally. For example, be sure to promptly remove anyone who wishes to unsubscribe from your email list — and make it easy for them to ask. You don’t want word getting around about how needy you are by continuing to send them unwanted messages — not to mention the legal ramifications!
If you highlight the customer’s shortcomings, they’re unlikely to think fondly of you (even if they really should have come to you sooner). Bad vibes, the heebie-jeebies — whatever you want to call it, you don’t want to leave customers feeling like there’s something off about your interactions. Being able to put a positive spin on your conversations goes a long way in creating happy experiences for your customers. There will be days when you come across customers who you’ll never make totally happy, but it’s important you remain the rock for them throughout their customer journey.
Already a pro with customers? Apply for a Funding Circle loan to continue to grow!
Paige Smith is a Content Marketing Writer and Senior Contributing Writer at Funding Circle. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and specializes in writing about the intersection of business, finance, and tech. Paige has written for a number of B2B industry leaders, including fintech companies, small business lenders, and business credit resource sites.