There is an old story about a salesman that’s about to embark on an overnight business trip to a big city. His young son begs to go with him, yearning to take a vacation with his dad and not fully aware of what going away on business actually entails. The man agrees to take his son with him but briefs his son about the trip. The salesman will meet with several clients and his son is welcome to tag along provided that the young boy is courteous and keeps to himself when necessary. The boy agrees, suddenly welcoming the opportunity to see his dad hard at work, one day dreaming of being a salesman like his father.
After a full weekend of successful meetings with clients, the father and son return home. “How was your trip?” the salesman’s wife asks her husband and son, then says to the boy, “Did your dad work hard?”
“He didn’t do any work!” the boy replies. “All Dad does is talk to his friends all day!”
The Importance of Customer Relationships
This charming story is often used to highlight the importance of businesses developing friendly relationships with their clients. Seemingly, the friendly rapport between the salesman and his potential customers is what allows him to win them over.
The importance of these relationships cannot be underestimated. Because a reliable client base separates successful businesses from temporary ones–especially in an industry devoted to repairs, in which you are supposed to represent the solution to people’s problems–it is vital for maintaining and growing a client base in which long-term friendships are nurtured between service provider and customer. Also, do not forget the importance of personal business referrals for your company.
While crossing the threshold between the stoic business-and-customer relationship to a casual, friendly one can seem difficult, or even strange, there are a few simple ways to ease this process. Here are a few tips for developing lasting, friendly relationships with your customers.
Nurture the Relationship
Remember that being professional does not mean being distant. Politeness and mutual respect exists in good friendships, so feel free to nurture this type of relationship with a client. While good, polite service is appreciated, the level of trust in your services skyrockets if you and your client develop a friendship. Who do you trust more, a professional waiter or a close friend? Trust, after all, is one of the most important factors determining whom a client chooses to perform their repairs.
Don’t Be Too Casual
Being friendly with a client does not mean speaking to them the way you speak with friends outside of work. These people are participating in a goods-for-currency exchange with you, after all. Do not curse, discuss lewd subjects, argue, or delve into private matters with your client. Being polite and distant is one extreme, but being strangely casual with clients is the opposite vice. You will still need to thank them, greet them professionally, and maintain your dignity as a businessperson by putting your work first.
Be a Good Listener
The keys to a good balance of being professional and friendly with clients is smiling, welcoming conversation, and engaging in long conversation with your clients. Everyone is different; be a good listener and follow the path toward friendly interaction your client welcomes. Some people might enjoy talking about their home, travels, spouse, favorite sports teams, or career. As with every new friendship, take this small talk and allow friendly, continuous discussion to sprout.
Be genuine and honest with your clients. If you think one of your coworkers can best handle a certain job, allow them to take over a delicate process. If you have made a mistake, admit it and apologize promptly. If your client asks for a recommendation, give a good and reliable one. This is what friends do.
Stay in Touch
Most importantly, stay in touch with all of your clients. This cannot be stressed enough. Sending letters reminding people to make appointments is one thing, but calling a customer to ask if their appliances are in good shape and if they have any concerns takes things to the next level. Your client will feel that you have a personal commitment to them that goes beyond stale, ordinary business contact.
About the Author: Noah Franklin is the owner of AC Pros HVAC, LLC, a professional Austin Air Conditioning and heating company. The business has been up and running for just over four years. Noah is fully experienced in all aspects of the Land business, having previously been a Landman at T. S. Calkins & Associates, Inc., Osage Land, Arrington Oil & Gas Operation, LLC, and Petroleum Landman. He is a very intelligent man known for his diligence and dedication to his clients