Customer Relationships – Handing on the Baton
Posted on 24th June 2021 at 17:11
From Our What'sUp? Workshop 23 June 2021
Client relationships are important and it’s frequently said that people buy from other people and not businesses from businesses (although that delivery that was left by my front door in a puddle of mud? I’m not convinced there was any human involvement).
However, as a business grows, or changes or personnel move around, there are times when that personal touch is difficult to keep going, to the extent that is expected. You need or want to hand over, but how can you transfer the level of trust that you’ve built up to someone else in your organisation who will continue the good work?
Customers don’t like changes and frequent or sudden ones can risk damaging a relationship or even losing them altogether. It can seem that you don’t really care about them.
But with a few planned steps it is possible to hand over a relationship.
Start with “We”
Unless everything is based on an individual personal service, then it’s good to refer to your company’s activities in the plural. Same values, but just shared between everyone in the business. Saying “we” also feels good and reminds you that you’re not alone in the business.
If one person in that relationship suddenly leaves, or becomes ill, or there are unexpected changes, then it’s difficult to create a transition. The simplest approach is to tell the client the reasons (without demonstrating if there was any animosity), and find out why that client liked the person. This will help you to decide who might step up, and you can arm them with certain expectations from the client.
Within small businesses, many of the relationships are with the owner/person in charge, and after a while it becomes unsustainable to continue these at the level that has become expected, or preferred. You don’t want to be seen to “offload” clients to someone else, but you need to handover the responsibility.
With any new relationship, include your team, or someone within your team, as an additional connection. As you both build up a relationship with the client, you may be seen as the first contact, but you can “arrange” to be unavailable so the client will gradually initiate contact with your team more often, so they become the preference, but you still retain that personal touch.
If you need a transition, involve the client; tell them your reasons for not being able to dedicate the time you feel you need for them to benefit and introduce the new contact. Get the new contact to maintain the same formula as yours initially before developing their own relationship strategy. Keep contact with the client, and make them aware that you’re still interested in them, you know what the new contact is doing and that you approve.
Looking to the future
The added benefit of involving more people in a relationship, is that it becomes much easier to respond to your customers with the right knowledge and in a timely manner. Before you know it, your customers are telling everyone else how great you are to deal with.
We all want a bit of that!
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