Relationships, particularly in the business world, aren’t built overnight. They are based upon trust earned over time by actions embedded in transparency and authenticity. While it may take years for a vendor to attain the “trusted advisor” status, the customer-supplier relationship can come unraveled in a matter of minutes with the wrong messaging or actions.
In today’s typical business model the caretakers of customer relationships are oftentimes Strategic Account Managers. (aka SAM) Certainly a SAM’s role, by its very nature is consultative, but above all, their primary mission is to protect the well-being of the firm’s relationship with its clients. They must always seek to do the right thing for their customers.
I recently came across an excellent magazine article addressing this subject. The author, Steve Andersen, is the founder of Performance Methods Inc., a consultant firm specializing in sales and account management best practices. In his article, entitled “Trust Builder or Buster?” Steve states “perhaps more than ever, the strategic account manager is in an ideal position to be his/her customer’s first line of trust.”
Steve continues by outlining (8) eight innovative best practices to build “trust-based relationships with customers.” (as described by Top performing strategic account managers)
To recap they are as follows:
- “I go the distance for my customers… I’m willing to be there for them even when I don’t have to be.”
- “I engage with my customers their way.“
- “I don’t close deals; I open relationships.”
- “I am my customer’s ambassador to my company.”
- “I refuse to ‘act like a salesperson’ with my strategic customer.”
- “I always ask my customers how they define success, and then I focus my account management efforts accordingly.”
- “I try to ‘get it right the first time‘ for my customer.”
- “I make it my business to know what my customer values most.”
While the thoughts presented here are conveyed through the eyes of a strategic account manager, they really apply to any person working in a client-facing role. As is often said, it is much easier to keep a customer, than find a new one. In this “new economy” which is highly competitive, innovative customer service is arguably the key component to successful client retention.
Question: What is your company/organization doing to keep your clients loyal to your organization? I look forward to your thoughts!