Get Real About Customer Relationships: Customers Know Sincerity Counts

Sincerity Counts

Customer Relationships Matter

Regardless of what business you're in, your customer relationships have the power to make or break your business. Of course that's not breaking news, which is precisely why it bears repeating.

Do you assume strong relationships come naturally?

They don't, especially in business. Cultivating key contacts (prospects, partners, investors, advocates) takes work.

Not only do you need to determine who your these people are and where to find them, you must also approach them in a way that intrigues them instead of causing them to run away.

One way to do this is to be real and sincere in your interactions. This effort isn't easy to scale, and good intentions frequently fall flat.

Take this email I got today. After opening with a generic "I hope this finds you well..." the writer (who I won't name) went on to say:

"I'm so glad that we connected at an event sometime over the past few months."

An event? Sometime? Please tell me, which one. Where? When?

Apparently, the sender couldn't recall. Our meeting must have been entirely forgettable, except for the fact that my contact information was somehow passed on. Or perhaps I was memorable, but then got dropped into a bucket of other people to reach out to "when we have time."

Treating people like cattle is not a good approach to creating connections that last.

Get a CRM like Contactually which allows you to capture notes about when and where you met, along with other relevant details. That way, when you get around to sending that follow-up email, you can make in personal.

Ideally, close the loop within a day or two, while both your memory and that of the person you just met is still fresh.

This ill-fated email went on to say, the writer "....would appreciate the opportunity to put you on our newsletter list."

Another lost opportunity.

Sure, the author gets points for asking. I certainly appreciate people who comply with the CAN-SPAM act (everyone should). So what's wrong?

This statement is entirely about the writer and has nothing to do with me.

Why should I be another notch on your email bedpost? Contacts aren't collections, they're people.

When building your email list, only add people who want to be on it. Quality trumps quantity, so look for contacts who value your communications.

In this case, a much better approach would be to tell me what I'll gain from joining the list. Will I learn something? Get valuable information to help me do my job? Will your messages spark my imagination or help me make more money?

If it's just about you, I'm not interested.

WIFM still rules: What's in It for Me?

There's a big difference between mass marketing to 10,000 people and cultivating relationships with a select few. Consider the difference and adapt your approach accordingly.

How can you increase the sincerity of your communications?

Here are a few tips make you outreach more authentic:

  1. Personalize your messages:
    1. Open with "Dear [name]" instead of "Hi there." (Be sure the spelling is correct, too.)
    2. When sending a connection request on a site like LinkedIn, create a personal message instead of using the default.
    3. Add details, like what you spoke about or where you met.
  2. Use 1-to-1 communications:
    1. It can be a pain to craft multiple emails after a busy week of networking, so let technology help. Use a service that enables mass customization, like Contactually's ScaleMail feature.
    2. Avoid email templates that are a dead-giveaway you're doing a bulk message. If you must use an email service provider to send several messages, use a plain email format instead of something that looks like a newsletter.
    3. Respond to tweets and comments individually, or at least in small groups where you can acknowledge people individually.
  3. Go beyond social media:
    1. Don't rely solely on social media to create connections, these contacts are too easily forgotten.
    2. Move to a private, two-way conversation via email, phone or in person to cement your relationship.
  4. Stay in touch:
    1. One coffee date doesn't create a relationship. Stay in touch over time to strengthen the connection.
    2. Supplement mass messaging like email newsletters with personal communications every now and then. Invite contacts to live events, meet in person or use private social media messaging.
    3. Adjust frequency to suit the relationship. Generally you need to to exchange more than an annual holiday greeting to claim a real relationship.

Note: Contactually has graciously offered anyone who signs up for a free trial using the links in this post a  $10 discount on their first month as a paid user. Since these are affiliate links, and I also get paid if you use them. If you prefer not to use affiliate links, type into your browser.

Joey is the founder and CEO of Claravon Group and the creator of Solopreneur School. A consultant, business coach, speaker and author, Joey draws on her expertise in strategy, branding and marketing to help entrepreneurs accelerate growth and improve profits.

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This content of this post represents the views and opinions of the author alone, and does not constitute legal or professional advice. For more information, refer to our Terms of Use.

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