By Chip Parmelee
In this current business climate, establishing a healthy relationship with your potential and current customer is paramount since we do business with those we trust.
Creating and fostering relationships with customers takes time and excellent customer service. Having worked in the hospitality industry for over 30 years with a number of luxury brands like Marriott International and currently overseeing AAA Four and Five Diamond properties in Southern Florida for The Service Companies, I have developed tips and recommendations on how to go about building these healthy relationships.
- Know the position/responsibilities of your main contact. Having a thorough understanding of their needs ensures you are providing them what they need to succeed.
- Learn what you might have in common that both of you can speak to and relate to.
- Seek to establish a business friendship. Find out what interests them. Reference those interests in conversation, when it makes sense. Does your customer like the local baseball team? Engage them in conversation about a thrilling game or news.
- If a mistake is made, always professionally apologize for the inconvenience. Take responsibility and assure your customers you will do research to prevent the issue from occurring in the future. For any promises or assurances you make, ensure you follow up.
- Be genuine. If you are unsure of something, ask questions to clarify your uncertainty and to be sure you and the client are on the same page
- Insist on inspections. They are healthy for both a vendor and a client. They allow you to identify potential issue before they become larger problem.
- Get to know all department leaders of those areas your teams service or work closely with. At The Service Companies, one of the teams we work closely with at each property is Maintenance or Engineering. It is important to be known among these departmental leaders. Ask your client to facilitate introductions if there are leaders he or she believes it is important you meet and get to know.
- Always express your appreciation to the client for giving you their time when visiting or following a meeting.
- Learn their business. Various departments have distinct business outlooks. Understanding how their department functions will enable you to tailor your service to best fit their needs.
- Acknowledge your customers by sending greeting cards. It’s a nice gesture for these to include as many as your team members’ signatures as possible along with your business card. Some ideas for when to send a card are:
- Congratulatory card for a promotion, the birth of a child, or to acknowledge your client’s accomplishments
- Thanksgiving is the perfect time to thank your client for their business
- New Year
While these tips contribute to building a strong customer relationship, the most important one to remember is email and text are always needed; however, nothing replaces the personal visit or phone call. The more you are able to have a conversation, whether on the phone or in person, the better your relationship will be.