Wow, that’s a big commitment. Ready to say yes?
Proposals are serious business, whether you are “proposing” to a prospective spouse or a new client/customer. In both circumstances, you are asking them to trust you, commit to you..."marry" you. For better or worse. Let's hope it's for better!
According to research conducted on more than 3,000 couples for four decades by Dr. John Gottman, a world-renowned marriage therapist, there are three important findings that correlate with a lasting marriage. And this applies to couples as well as client relationships.
Here are the three findings for a lasting marriage:
Treating your partner like a good friend
Handling conflicts in gentle, positive ways
Being able to repair after conflicts and negative interactions
This sound advice for a marriage is also extremely relevant to a successful client/business relationship:
- Treat your client like a good friend
- Handle client conflicts in gentle, positive ways
- Be able to repair after client conflicts and negative interactions
So let’s consider how to apply this advice:
Hopefully, we can all agree, that we should cherish our friends and always treat them with respect. We also need to cultivate the relationship for it to be successful. Clients also want to feel appreciated and respected. That we have their back and are there to help and support them. And, quite often, those client relationships are almost as important as our own personal friendships.
When there is a conflict, it's critical to reach out immediately, show humility and listen to their experience. This is not a time to be right; it’s the time to understand the problem and alleviate the pain point. We could learn from the Dalai Lama when he says, “I’d rather be kind than right. You can always be kind.” You want your clients to trust that you are going to be compassionate and fix their problem to the best of your ability. We've all heard the adage, "the customer is always right." While technically they may not be right, it's important for us to ensure they feel respected and that their problem is fixed.
Early in her career, our marketing director Mary DeBonis was working for a large real estate franchise system. She attended a national conference with keynote speaker, Kevin Blanchard, who coauthored (with Sheldon Bowles) the book, Raving Fans. She recalled listening intently to Kevin as he described the dire need to turn your clients into raving fans, or risk losing them. His quote: “Your customers are only satisfied because their expectations are SO low and because no one else is doing better." Whoa! How awful is that?
Blanchard continued: "Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create “Raving Fans.” He pointed to Nordstrom’s level of service and commitment to the customer as a role model. He explained that Nordstrom typically didn’t just fix the problem; they went far above and beyond to exceed the customer's expectations—to the point that the customer was so pleased with the outcome that they told their friends and neighbors about that experience. In essence, the “issue” was the opportunity to make the customer into a Raving Fan. So, the moral of the story, is to use those times when your product or service has simply failed to turn that into an opportunity to convert an unhappy client into your Raving Fan.
One of our clients is a national auto parts franchise system. We asked the marketing director of that company if she would mind being interviewed for one of our testimonial videos. She enthusiastically accepted. Wow, that felt good! She didn't just accept; she was excited to tell others about her positive experiences. We had gone above and beyond to commit to making this client, and all of our others, a priority. And, when our team watched her describe our service and our platform, we knew she was a Raving Fan and it was really inspiring to us. In fact, her interview ended with: “Inkbench was a solution to our problems. A scratch to an itch. And we look forward to a very long successful relationship.” Hmm, sounds like we will have that lasting marriage we dreamed of!
As a growing brand, it’s important to be a loyal, attentive, flexible partner so you’ll have a healthy, long marriage with your clients. So, the question remains: Will you marry me?