I hate it when people pretend to care. Like the absent-minded “uh-huh”-er that can’t pull her eyes off her phone when you’re bearing your soul to her. Or the mechanic who attempts to show sympathy when your car lags into his garage, but who can’t hide the dollar signs in his greedy eyes. Or the gossiper that sees distress on your face and reads “good story ahead” instead of “friend in need.”
I think most would agree that sincerity is always a valued trait in not only friends, but businesses as well. We live in a world of skeptics who are looking to see what’s behind the shiny façade of a business’ storefront. We’re wary of schemes, falsities, and offers that are just too good to be true. So what’s a company to do to gain trust from customers or other businesses in today’s world?
Whether you define your business as B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer), in the end, neither matters. All consumers are responding to a term you may have heard before- P2P (person-to-person). So forget B2B or B2C, your focus should always be P2P—on the individual interactions.
1) Put the consumer first
It’s not a new idea. In fact, it’s what every great company already does. Honing in on your customer’s needs and wants will keep them happy and offer the foundation to a lasting relationship.
2) Be relatable
Don’t hold yourself apart from them, relate and converse with your audience in a way that builds more of a relationship than simply company/customer. Social media is an excellent medium for this.
3) Understand your target audience’s needs
—And not only when it relates to your product. Understanding the way they tick will allow you to give them not only the right product, but the right online content as well.
4) Communicate expectations
Be sure your customers know what to expect when they visit your store, website, blog, or social media pages. Are you friendly and laid back? Professional and polished? Progressive and creative? Whatever it is, let your audience know through your branding and messaging. This will allow your customers to feel comfortable and at ease when engaging with you—leaving much of the guesswork of who they are talking to out of the mix.
5) Be transparent
People are desperate for honesty, and I would argue that they appreciate it more than half-truths that make them momentarily feel better about things. Show them that you have the guts to own up to mistakes and are willing to make it right, if the need may be.
6) Show you care
It’s the little things that count. A helpful clerk, an informational blog post that answered a customer’s question, a friendly Facebook post that shows the company’s personality—there are a number of ways you can show you care. Each act will bring a more devoted customer and more likely company evangelist.
Whether you are listening to a customer’s complaint on the phone, or reading it on your online directory listing—listen. Pay attention to the positive and the negative and take it to heart. Be apologetic if necessary, and grateful when the feedback deserves it. Respond and interact. Show that the one person or comment means just as much to you as the 1,000+ Facebook fans you have, or the dozens of customers that are browsing your store.
Don’t be the distracted “uh-huh”-er of your consumer’s requests. See beyond the dollar signs a new customer brings, and strive for a lasting relationship instead. Offer help and excellent customer service to one, and the consumer will spread the experience to their many connections much better than you would be able to with a pricy ad. Remember, it’s all about P2P.