Building strong business relationships in an online world
Customers trust that a business will deliver what they’ve asked for, without hassle, at the price agreed to, and within the time frame they require. Businesses trust that their product suppliers will deliver what they’ve asked for, without hassle, at the price agreed to, and within the time frame they require. Trust is based on no surprises!
Trust is essential for the survival and success of any kind of business, and in the world of business today, trust is more vital than ever – especially when it comes to relationships with customers, employees, and anyone who has a stake in the company. Entrepreneur Warren Buffet said, “Trust is like the air we breathe. When it’s present, nobody really notices. But when it’s absent, everybody notices.”
With social networking dominating the Internet, integrity and trust are more important now than ever before. The Internet has an immeasurable impact on the global economy, in every industry. Today’s customers expect companies to perform to higher standards, because they can find another source in seconds.
Many companies have taken enthusiastically to selling online. Some are tweeting and some are connecting with customers on LinkedIn and Facebook. Nowadays, there are more people on Facebook than in the entire United States, so that tells us what a great marketing vehicle it has become. With the advantage of being able to connect without leaving the office, it’s important to stick to all the rules of building a business relationship with honesty, ethics, and reliability. Nowadays, business relationships can be difficult to gain and easy to lose, so it’s vital to pay attention to these core elements:
- Keep your word. A company’s word has to be valuable and unbreakable. Don’t make a promise unless you can keep it.
- Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Give your customer credit for being understanding. Things happen! Just make sure that when “things happen” the outcome gives the greater benefit to the customer. Keeping customers in the loop with orders, from start to finish, is central to creating a good working relationship, and it gives them a feeling of security, especially if there’s a possibility of a glitch.
- Be sincere. Tell it like it is.
Customer service experts say that failing to communicate with customers can create alienation. Making the effort to keep in touch pays off. Whether in the store, online, on the telephone, via email, or via fax, a quick response is a must. Since we belong to an instant gratification generation, the “I want it now!” attitude prevails everywhere.
When I was growing up, I used to help my mother and father at trade shows. My family owned a bowling center. During that period, my father invented products that paved the way for a bowling supply manufacturing business. In the early days, I traveled with them during the summer months to different area conventions. My dad, who was one of the hardest-working, most honest people I have ever known, drilled into my two brothers and me that our reputation and credibility are worth more than anything else in the world. His example for building a successful company was to always follow moral and ethical principles.
The same principles hold true today … just not always face to face. No matter whether in a showroom or in an online sales opportunity, the old saying still counts: “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” And … deliver as promised!
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