Silverpop - Taking Stock of Your Customer Relationships
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Taking Stock of Your Customer Relationships

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by: Ellen Valentine (@EllenValentine)
09 August 2012

Evaluating our goals for the second half of the year and where we currently stand with customers is top of mind at Silverpop. We're constantly working toward building stronger relationships and improving our product to better serve the needs and wishes of all of our customers.

Because of this heavy focus on customers and the frequent use of the word “relationship” around the office, I began noticing that word in a number of interesting places. In fact, there was one spot in particular I saw it over and over again … Pinterest. (Visit our Pinterest page.)

If you're a frequent Pinterest user (a "Pinner"), you may be following people that are constantly posting inspirational stuff about life, organization and, yes, relationships. As I read a few recent quotes, I noticed many of them can also serve as sage advice in today’s business world.  Let’s look at a few recent relationship Pins that I found particularly insightful:

“A relationship without trust is like a car without gas. You can stay in it all you want, but it won’t go anywhere.”
This quote works well when talking about a relationship with a friend or a brand. Trust is what fuels the relationship, giving it the ability to move forward. Without trust, you won't get very far with your audience. What’s the number one way to build trust with anyone? Always do what you say you’re going to do.

Making this attitude a priority can have a strong impact across your company, from making sure your sales reps always show up on time for appointments and conference calls, to honoring the specifics your customers and prospects have documented in your email preference center. Let trust be the fuel you use to drive your business, and I guarantee you’ll go far.

“Being in a relationship is a full-time job. Don’t apply if you’re not ready.”
Relationships only thrive when people are willing to constantly work on them. For a relationship to work, you have to be willing to put in the time to make the other person happy, to understand their needs, and to help them grow. Those same ideas apply directly to your business. Many companies understand that even the best relationships need regular attention, but aren’t willing to invest the time, leading to situations where companies only pay attention to relationships they're about to lose, scrambling to make up for past neglectful behavior.

In the case of the neglected spouse, friend or even the ignored customer, it's easy for a shiny new competitor to come along and sweep them off their feet. Don’t let it happen to you. If you don’t have a strong relationship strategy in place, I recommend spending the second half of 2012 developing and implementing one. A good start is to consider investing just as much on the ongoing relationship as you did to win the business in the first place.

“No relationship is perfect, ever. There are always some ways you have to bend, to compromise, to give something up in order to gain something greater.”
Relationships, by definition, are made up of two parties … two parties who are going to occasionally disagree. Conflict will arise between you and your customers, and it can either destroy or enhance your relationship. Stomping your feet and standing your ground might mean you win the battle, but at a high price. Better to approach your customer relationships knowing conflict will arise, and have a process in place that allows for positive resolution, even if it means having to concede a little ground. By showing your customer you're willing to be flexible for them, they’ll understand you value their business, forming a stronger relationship for future business.

I could probably carry on with hundreds more examples, but I think you get the idea.  In business and in life, relationships are a vital ingredient for both personal and professional success.  As we head into the second half of 2012, take stock of where you are with each of your customer and prospective customer relationships.  Then take action to do what you need to do to turn those fans into enthusiasts. And this time, consider posting your ideas on Pinterest!

Want more tips on how to develop stronger relationships? Check out Silverpop’s most recent white paper, “The Year Is Halfway Over, What’s Your Relationship Status?

Related Resources:
1) "Lessons Learned: Applying Stephen Covey's Seven Habits to Marketing" (blog)
2) "Taking Loyalty Beyond the Discount" (Slideshare)
3) "5 Tips for Humanizing Content and Engaging Recipients" (tip sheet)

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