PART 2: Building Relationships- A Black Swan POV

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Guest Blogger:   Our special guest contributor this month is Melissa Michalski, co-owner of CertPro Accounting Team, a proud member of IPBC, a Certified Professional Bookkeeper and a graduate of the Black Swan Project.

swanIn January 2015, at the Black Swan Summit, we, of course, discussed value pricing concepts but there was also a focus on building stronger relationships.  After a debriefing of the summit, my business partner and I have concluded that there are three kinds of relationships we want to improve: suppliers (which I previously discussed in my first blog of this series), customer relationships, as well as those within the company.   

What are your customers worth to you? For us, they are everything.  The value conversation is very important when meeting new customers, you need to listen and ask the right questions in order to determine their needs, because each customer is different.  For example, some customers might want to see monthly reports, while others might just want their bills paid on time. In order to provide excellent service, you have to understand each customer and know what the most valuable service is to them. The most important part is providing the outcome they want, and this is a big task!

How can we make sure we meet these goals?  Our company has started with simple yet effective measures.  These include; offering a service guarantee, and ensuring that our customers know that the lines of communication are always open. We always follow-up with our customers to make sure they are happy, and check in to see if any aspect of our service needs improvement. We know that our customers are our biggest fans and if they are happy, they will pass on their positive experience to their industry peers.

After checking in with our customers, and working to build a relationship with them, we must work to prevent this good relationship from becoming stale.  It is important to make sure that all long term customers are happy. This can be as simple as scheduling routine follow ups.   In these important follow ups, ask questions; are there any other services you can offer them? Are they happy with the outcome of the package they chose? Is there anything you can improve on? Have any of their desires changed? How are they feeling about their business?  By communicating, you are continuing to build a stronger relationship with the customer, which shows you care.  This effective process encourages communication and shows you are invested in their company.  This will build strong and trusting relationships.

Any ongoing relationship requires showing signs of appreciation.  A company must show appreciation to its customers.   Cert Pro works to acknowledge our customers with simple, yet meaningful gestures, such as small gifts for special occasions.  Something as simple as a hand written card can make an impact, think about when you get something unexpected, it makes your day extra special.  Get involved with your customers; it will make business relationships, more rewarding!

At the 2015 Black Swan Summit, a colleague of Ron Baker explained he chooses one customer a week to call and simply say hello.   With the world being full of email and texts, one phone call can go a long way,  I challenge you to reach out to one of your customers on a weekly basis (start with the those you do not speak with often) and touch base with them.  Make the time to reach out to those, it will make a lasting impact and help create long term relationships with your customers.

Stay tuned for Blog 3: Building Relationships within your company.