Every business in the world has something that they sell – goods or services that address a need or desire of a consumer and achieve a profit (at least ensure the business’s sustainability).
Before the introduction of the internet, focussing solely on quality goods or services to make a profit was common. Business owners could often hard sell their goods/services without much thought as to its long-term impact, especially if they had a local monopoly on the goods/services they provided.
Since the advent of the internet and parallel advancements in global infrastructure, concentrating on profits without concern for the individuals behind the product has developed the ability to be detrimental to your business. Here is why:
People speak: Word-of-mouth has always played a role in marketing, but due to the reach of the internet and the speed at which consumers share their experiences, today’s disgruntled consumers are more likely to publicly voice their discontent and have a wider audience. When people feel that they are just ‘somebody to sell to’, it can be difficult to keep them coming back.
The world is smaller: As little as 10 years ago, the basis of starting a business was “location, location, location.” Now, not so much. With online orders and quick delivery becoming a staple in the buying repertoire of every-day consumers, location has largely lost its significance. If your product/service does not satisfy, you could even end up losing business to someone on the other side of the country.
There is greater ethical awareness: Due to the world’s information being available at the tap of a button, selling products/services with disregard for the environment can quickly turn consumers against you. People are also much more likely to realise when they are being manipulated because scepticism has become a necessary defence in a world of stage-managed information and half-truths.
One-size-fits-all fits very few: Providing a standardised service in our modern society largely neglects the needs of individual consumers. When the same approach is adopted for every client, customers are bound to feel dissatisfied as individual elements of your service do not fulfil their individual needs.
As an alternative to the above issues, business owners should turn their attention to their clients and build relationships with them. There are several ways in which this can be accomplished. Here are some tips to facilitate the process, from simply having clients to building authentic relationships:
Ask them about their needs: Many entrepreneurs believe that they have all the answers before they have even asked the questions. Discovering your client’s requirements before offering a solution will build trust and show that you are not just interested in their money.
Give a little more: One way you can be sure to acquire and keep clients is by offering a little more than your competitors. Gratitude comes from receiving the unexpected. When you only give clients what they pay for, you may have satisfied clients, but you will not make them grateful. Where you can give more, do so and see the gratitude pouring in.
Refer them to specialists: Just as your General Practitioner refers their patients to specialists, you can have a network of businesses with whom you are connected and can recommend additional services that fall outside your scope. Not only will you be giving practical steps to your client on how to satisfy their business needs, but you will incentivise good-faith relationships with fellow entrepreneurs who can refer their clients back to you where appropriate. Be careful to choose business partners you are willing to trust!
Be transparent and provide a platform: One of the biggest things that can damage trust in the internet generation is by not having a clear platform on which consumers can engage with you – or worse still, deliberately withholding such a platform. Give your customers/clients a platform through which they can speak to you or provide real commentary on the service you provide. This can go a long way in establishing trust. Take constructive criticism to improve your product/offering and give relevant feedback, as silence can also damage trust.
Give back: People tend to trust businesses that give back – whether by improving a product/service to be more eco-friendly or by getting involved in community projects. Going above and beyond the call of duty not only reflects well on your business, but can help you and your employees to de-stress and feel good about making a difference in the local community. This is a proven way of managing anxiety and encouraging better mental health.
How do you plan on building relationships?
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)