Imagine this: you walk into a restaurant to have dinner and are greeted pleasantly by the host.  After promptly being seated, your server introduces him/herself and proceeds to provide you with attentive service.  In the middle of your meal, the manager or owner comes by to introduce him/herself and make sure you’ve gotten everything you’ve needed.  You leave the restaurant with a full stomach and ready to recommend the establishment to friends and family immediately.  This restaurant is no doubt successful because of the importance it places on business relationships, and the owners’ commitment to building those relationships shows in a positive way.  Read on for some ways to improve your own business relationships.

  • Offer more than they expect.  Going above and beyond your customers’ expectations will always make a good impression.  For example, a customer is unhappy with her recent photo framing order because the matte was not mounted on straight.  Not only did the owner re-do the job for free, but she put it first on her priority list and also offered the customer free shipping on her next order if she continued to patron the business.  For many successful business owners, a satisfied customer is not enough; doing something to make a customer say, “Wow!” is something to strive for.
  • Anticipate their needs.  The more attentive you are to your customers, the better able you will be to anticipate their needs and attend to them, possibly even before they do!  If you have a customer who always purchases the same product every month, consider offering her an automatic refill service where she can set up automatic payments and receive her item regularly without having to actually place the order each time.  Another idea would be to show her different uses for the product that she may be unaware of or to introduce her to products that would complement the one she likes.  Getting to know your customers will give you the insight to anticipate their wants and needs.
  • Be yourself.  Most people can easily detect when someone is being insincere.  You always want to smile and be polite, but don’t be afraid to show customers your personality.  If people are drawn to your sense of humor, incorporate that into your conversations.  Don’t worry about what you think customers want to hear or who they want you to be; just be yourself and let your business relationships be built on your genuine desire to provide excellent customer service.
  • Be honest.  If you are not honest, you are not reliable.  Customers want to do business with those who are dependable and ethical. If you mess up, admit to your mistake and do everything possible to make it right.  If you can’t deliver on something, don’t promise it.  If you practice dishonesty or deceit, the fallout can cause irreparable damage to your business and your reputation.  Always hold yourself to a high standard; business relationships require trust between both parties.

Improving your business relationships is not much different from improving your personal ones.  Think of others before yourself, be honest, be sincere, and listen to the other person.  What else do you think should be added to this list?  Please share your ideas below!