No man is an island. And no business can succeed without fostering a myriad of healthy relationships. Innovative products, an advertising budget of mammoth proportions, and competitive pricing are all fine and dandy, but the secret to a thriving business is people–your employees, your suppliers, your contacts, and, most of all, your customers.
Here are just a few of the many ways that relationships matter in the business realm.
1. Relationships Create Loyalty
By developing a strong relationship with your clientele, your business transforms from being “just another company” into a brand they know and trust. This is important for a number of reasons.
When it comes to making an online purchase, many customers are leery of dealing with a business they do not know nor trust. They will be much more willing to place an order with the company that they have developed a relationship with. Make sure that you are that company.
Plus, a customer is more likely to be forgiving of a minor faux pas committed by a company that they like than an “oops” perpetrated by one that they feel no connection to. By developing a relationship with your customers and earning their trust, they will move past customer service or product issues more easily, knowing that you will address their concerns and resolve their problems to the best of your ability.
2. Relationships Create an Image
It’s hard to feel “warm and fuzzy” about a faceless corporate entity. Thankfully, through fostering relationships, you can bring a human face to your organization–one that customers can relate to and even come to love.
Think about it. Why do so many large companies rely on cute “spokescreatures” to represent their brands? It’s because everyone loves a pudgy doughboy that giggles, a pair of hapless talking M&M candies, and an eloquent gecko. The adoration we have for these “corporate faces” are automatically transferred to the companies that they represent. If Snoopy is a trusted character, Met Life, must also be a company we can have faith in, right?
The people who represent your company have the same effect. And this is by no means limited to just the frontline customer service and sales people. Fast Company‘s “Beyond Customer Loyalty Programs: 7 Ways to Build Lasting Relationships” advises companies to “make customer relationships a shared responsibility for your entire organization.” After all, every person that your company deals with in a day–in any capacity–could be a potential customer.
3. Relationships Create Great Word-of-Mouth
Sure, people are quick to spread the word when they are displeased with a company–but they are also eager to refer their friends and family members to a business that they truly believe in. And people trust a word-of-mouth referral from their nearest and dearest. That’s why it is important that you forge a relationship of trust and respect with every customer that comes through your doors.
This can also apply to your relationships with other businesses as well. The Globe and Mail‘s “Ten Ways to Build Rock Solid Relationships with Customers” proposes the “any friend of yours is a friend of mine approach,” stating that creating strategic partnerships and alliances with other businesses can lead to both partners receiving valuable referrals. Scratching one another’s spines creates an ideal symbiotic situation.
4. Relationships Create a Top-notch Team
While it is important to create positive relationships outside of your organization, it is also vital to nurture healthy and respectful relationships within your company. By developing a strong working alliance with your employees–and creating an atmosphere and culture conducive to developing a strong sense of teamwork–you will be able to increase morale, productivity, and job satisfaction. It will also better enable you to attract and maintain key talent.
Using social media to develop a relationship with potential hires is one method employed by many successful large companies. There is, however, one caveat–it will require patience. In an “Expert Interview with Tony Restell on Social Recruiting,” the CEO of Social-Hire.com states that it takes time to develop content, conduct research, and grow your social presence to the point where it’s actually strong enough to start generating applications and hires for your business. But it is well worth the effort.
If your company is the proverbial “hermit” of your industry, you are not reaching your full potential. So, put yourself out there and start developing valuable business relationships. After all, your business is only as strong as the people–and the relationships–that support it.
If you would like to develop a stronger relationship with potential new hires, you may want to check out “What an Employee Looks for in a Business.”
Freelance writer, avid blogger, and career counselor
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(Images courtesy of Thinkstock.com)