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You can dramatically advance your business by building solid relationships with your customers, your collaborative partners and your financing company.
In business as in life, success to a large degree depends on the quality of the relationships that a person or company builds over time. And because relationships—even business relationships—ultimately boil down to an interaction between people, successful companies place a premium on improving and strengthening the interface between their employees and the customers they serve.
This is one reason why converting new prospects—potentially interested parties who have not yet done business with a company—into paying customers is such a challenging task. Without a relationship already in place, purchasing a product or service from a company for the first time is a risk. Prospects are wary of the possibility that the promises made during the sales process will not be kept, that there will not be an equal exchange of value, and that in the end the buying decision was the wrong one.
Which is precisely why long-term customer relationships are so valuable, and why companies are willing to spend so much money trying to acquire new customers for the first time. The true value of the customer is calculated by what they will purchase over the course of the relationship, not simply with the very first transaction. With this logic in mind, the longer relationship lasts, the more valuable the customer becomes.
Accordingly, building strong, long lasting customer relationships naturally becomes one of the most important aspects of running—and growing—any business. Countless books have been written on the topic because it is so critical to business success. There are many theories and guidelines on how to foster and expand business relationships with not only customers, but with vendors and other external constituencies—such as investors, employees and the general public—as well.
While acknowledging that a thorough understanding of this material can help a company to improve its relationships, generally speaking, the bulk of this information can be boiled down into two main area of focus: execution and value. In other words, a company that executes flawlessly while delivering unquestionable value will invariably build exceptionally strong, long-lasting customer relationships.
Solid execution starts with the basics of business but then expands into more complex areas of the operation. To begin with, the products and services must be outstanding and beyond reproach. If a business isn’t selling excellent products and services, success will be difficult if not impossible to achieve. From there, everyone in the organization must be dedicated and focused on making the customer experience as flawless as it can possibly be. From the sales force to the shipping and installation team to customer support and billing, solid customer relationships start with perfect execution and impeccable customer service. If all of these elements are in place, customer relationships can flourish.
The other primary ingredient of customer relationships, value, can be delivered in many ways. There is of course the inherent value of the basic product and service offerings. But today’s customers, doing business in a highly competitive environment with lots of options, want additional value in any way they can get it. So to build long lasting, profitable customer relationships, successful companies must focus on adding value to their customers as well.
One way to accomplish this is to offer broad, comprehensive solutions—that extend beyond the typical scope of a company’s normal products and services—to business problems. For example, an equipment vendor might partner with other vendors in other industries to offer a turnkey solution to a critical and complex problem that its customers are facing. By solving this problem, the all important customer relationship becomes even stronger, as does the bond linking that customer with the equipment vendor.
Equipment vendors who take this approach to build their customer relationships should also strive to build and strengthen relationships with their collaborative partners, as well as with their finance companies. By working together in different transactions for different customers over time, all of the parties involved can perfect their individual roles and streamline the process of solution delivery. Each member of the team learns and understands its function and how it will ultimately fit within the total scope of the offered solutions.
This tends to improve efficiencies of delivery while reducing the final costs to the customer. With a robust team of providers who have all worked together in the past in place, even very complex and complicated solutions can be delivered expeditiously, efficiently—and profitably. Furthermore, with a proven and trusted financing partner sitting at the table as well, the complex solution can be seamlessly funded, and the long term administration of it—collecting payments, distributing revenue and so on—handled with ease.
Strong relationships with collaborative partners and a creative, flexible financing company become a solid foundation for the delivery of a wide range of value-added products and services that meet the increasingly complex needs of business customers. And because the relationships with those customers are based to a large degree on value received, solid partner relationships is an excellent way to build long lasting and profitable customer relationships as well.