If you were in a meeting talking about ways to improve your business, everyone around the table would probably agree on the importance of building strong customer relationships. And then, after everyone nodded their heads in agreement, the room would likely get very quiet.
That’s because no one is sure how to make building customer relationships an actionable item. How is it possible to make sure customers know not only that we appreciate them, but also that we are serious about helping make their professional lives more satisfying, more effective, and less stressful.
If you put these Three R’s of Customer Relationships in action, you’ll go a long way in helping your customers meet their professional objectives and goals.

1) Response.
Respond to your customers in a timely, thoughtful manner. This one may sound like a no-brainer, but how many times have you sent an email with questions that needed answers, a proposal that needed approval or even a simple “yes” or “no” and all you got back for hours, or days, was the sound of crickets? Don’t be the person who leaves someone hanging. Respond promptly. Be hyper responsive. It lets your customers know they can depend on you—and they will.
Then, go a step further to ensure every touch point includes, at the very least, a “thanks.” Better yet, ask about them. Sometimes when I write an email I get straight to the point. I read back over it before hitting send, and think, “Wow. Not all that friendly.” Starting off conversationally before getting down to business shows you care, and is a building block toward a solid client relationship.

2) Respect.
Know the Golden Rule. Treat your customers the same way you would like to be treated. Always with honesty and integrity. Always looking out for their best interests. Apologizing when you need to, and letting the spotlight shine on your client when things go well.
Set the right tone. Keep things professional and polite, without being stiff. When and if the heat is on, be the one who breaks the tension in a friendly, honest way. Call out the elephant in the room and break down barriers. Be aware of your own body language and actions when face to face, making sure your customer knows you are genuinely interested in and respect what is being said, and not focused on what someone else is saying via email or text.

3) Relevance.
Be the professional who makes things make sense and who makes things easier for your customer. Clarify a point. Simplify next steps. Set up weekly status calls, progress sheets, timelines—anything to make sure everyone is on the same page and in agreement. A well-organized vendor or service professional is a treasure, and your customers will appreciate your efforts in keeping everyone moving forward.
Know your customers’ pain points. If you don’t know, or think you might know but aren’t sure, ask them. They will appreciate being asked, and then you’ll know for sure, enabling you to become even more relevant, innovative and on target with solutions and products that meet their needs.
So put these Three R’s of Customer Relationships to work in your company. A strong customer relationship not only makes everyone’s day more pleasant and more productive, but it also increases loyalty, and your chance of getting a referral that could help you grow your business.