How to Build Better Business Relationships
Have you been disappointed in business dealings before?
Have you ever paid good money and received poor service? Perhaps they over-promised and under-delivered and still kept your money. Maybe you let them know you were not happy…and they did nothing about it – or worse still they took no responsibility and made you feel like you were in the wrong? This is the opposite of building a healthy Business Relationship. And that may leave you feel disrespected, ignored and likely taken advantage of (‘duped and dumped’) as one friend put it. Trust me, we’ve all been there.
So how can we learn from that valuable lesson and move forward with a sense of assurance that a product or service is going to deliver quality with good old-fashioned customer service? Here are some guidelines to follow before investing your hard-earned money and allowing you to experience a positive Business Relationship with the peace of mind that you are making the right decision and avoid bad service and scams.
Maybe it can feel like child’s play after all….
Scams – reported figures lost by Australian victims – exceeded $489 million in 2018, $149 million more than 2017,” ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said on 29 April 2019.
Remember – people build relationships and buy from those they like, trust and admire.
There are three questions you can ask before you purchase anything;
- Do you trust this person or product?
- And is your trust based on real data or an emotional connection?
- Do they have integrity?
Integrity = consistently honouring a promise or commitment and doing the right thing for all involved.
You can watch my video here on ‘How to STOP saying YES when you want to say NO’
Top Tips: Slow down. Do your research. Ask questions before you buy.
Here are 10 ‘Bottom-Line’ questions to Consider asking when deciding on doing Business with somebody:
- How long have you been in business/industry? As a rule of thumb, any person who deems themselves an ‘authority’ or ‘expert’ of any profession or industry has a minimum of five years hands-on experience. A good question to ask is “Do you use your product/service yourself on a regular basis – i.e. do you walk your talk?”
- What qualifications do you have? Qualifications should be displayed for easy reference (such as on their website, hanging on their wall or listed on promotional material). You can easily ask what their skill set is, where they studied, when they qualified and under what Industry Standard/Body they adhere to or the Associations they belong to.
- How can your product or service solve my problem? What results can be achieved or reasonably expected if we collaborate together? Be clear about asking about the cost, time frame needed, how improvements are measured or quantified, time that you may need to invest for best results. You need to establish the ‘end goal’ to ensure they can achieve that with you or for you.
- What is the cost? Do you offer payment terms? Beware of people demanding a big payment up front for any goods or service. Always negotiate a payment plan if you would like to take things more slowly, because if you make a large payment up front, it can be very difficult to retrieve it. Remember if it is an online purchase, you may be up for additional costs such as postage/packaging/currency differences.
- What guarantee do you give? Do they stand behind their product or service? Some common ways are offering a money back guarantee, a free trial, or sample of what they are promoting. It is advisable to purchase something of small value first to measure your customer expectations and experiences (is the order correct, delivered in good time, in good working order, adds value to your life, comes with the correct instructions, good packaging etc). If the first experience is a positive one, it is likely the second one will be too and you can place a bigger order.
- What’s my Exit Plan? If you don’t like, agree with or are not receiving value from a product or service, how can you stop paying for and receiving it? Personally I offer a money-back guarantee and ensure we have a face-to-face chat via video before deciding if we are ‘a good fit’ to work together,, followed by a detailed questionnaire completed by my new client. By only accepting clients who I know are best suited to my style of coaching, it sets us both up to succeed. And at the end of the first session, I have an exit strategy in place so if it is not working out, the contract is ceased after mutual discussion and agreement. If there is no an exit strategy in place, beware of purchasing a product or service. Even with the best of intentions, sometimes it is best to acknowledge a different product or service is the best solution for all involved.
- What real life customers can I contact? A good rule of thumb is to contact three ‘real life’ customers to ask a few questions about their experience (or read legitimate reviews). If a person or company is doing a good job, people are happy to leave positive comments. For example, on my website there are reviews from past clients that list their websites and google reviews from customers that have used my Coaching Services previously and are happy to refer others to do so.
- Customer service. What do you deem as acceptable customer service and how do I receive it from you? Do you deliver on your promise? Do respond to customer questions or queries within a certain time frame and who is on your team to assist or what resources are in place you if you are away/injured/sick? What are your hours of business (and over holiday periods?) If there is a conflict between us, how do you resolve it? Is this done by email/phone/in person/face-to-face? Finding out how they have dealt with conflict in past can provide you with clues to uncover the real story and often online reviews (such as Google or Amazon reviews) are good to look at as they are unbiased accurate. How a negative comment or feedback is dealt with can speak volumes. Do they respond with manners, courtesy and respect and with intention to resolve the issue? Or do they become defensive, aggressive or dismissive when confronted with an unhappy customer? I know who I would like to deal with!
- Contractual Agreements. Get everything in writing, including any contract, changes made, additions, promises or questions that have been answered so you have these to refer to if you need them. This may be in the form of email, text, messenger etc and acts as a legally binding agreement.
- What are your top 5 Business values? These are usually displayed on a website or promotional material or in a tagline – “1000 songs in your pocket’ by the late Steve Jobs is a prime example, that is a tagline where you know exactly what you are getting for what you spend. What does their brand stand for? Are they active in the community? Do they donate a portion of their earnings to a certain charity? Do they hire young adults fresh out of school to give them work experience? By asking this question, you receive a more in-depth of the values they live and work by. The old saying ‘Birds of feather, stick together’ pretty much sums up the human desire to move in same direction as others – and this is all driven by sharing the same values system.
Repeat buyers will fall into two categories:
- Am I satisfied with my purchase? I would likely use them again.
- Am I delighted with my purchase? I would definitely use this product or service again and refer people I know to do the same.
How do they market and promote? Here are the top 6 ways:
- Stays 100% honest
- Uses humour
- Doesn’t use any stupid gimmicks
- Doesn’t fall into the trap of competitor-bashing
- Highlights advantages in a respectful and empowering way
- Communicates what the market cares about and provides a solution
If you follow the guidelines above, even though it may take a little more time up front, it will avoid disappointment and wasted funds in the end.
And remember you are worthy of receiving good value for money and excellent customer service.
Would you like some support or assistance in building better business relationships?
I can help.
Get in touch, I’d love to hear from you, Sharon Chapman.
HI Sharon, This is great advice. Do you offer this as a downloadable file? Kind regards, Annabel