by Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE
Relationships are powerful. They help you differentiate your product or service, create brand loyalty, and set you apart from your competitors who are not willing to invest in building relationships.
Any savvy company will encourage its employees to build better relationships with customers. I myself teach the basics of relationship building in business, and have written about the process in my books, particularly The Fred Factor.
But you don’t always have time to build a lasting relationship. Sometimes dealing with customers or clients only takes a few minutes and you have little to no contact with them later on. You don’t have the time to build a “relationship,” nor should you try.
But neither should you interact passively. There is something between a transaction and a relationship that will benefit both the customer and your business. The goal is to create a connection, which I define as a moment of shared affinity.
At a hotel in Miami, a bellhop who came to pick up a dry-cleaning order noticed I was wearing a Harley-Davidson T-shirt. “Do you ride?” he asked. That started a brief conversation about our shared interest in motorcycles. I saw him several times throughout my stay and felt a connection based on that brief exchange. We weren’t friends by any definition, but the connection was still a positive part of my stay.
Transactions can be straightforward, but they often feel sterile. Looking for shared interests, indulging in appropriate humor, or simply noticing and commenting on another person is all it takes to add texture to the interaction and turn it into a genuine connection.
But how do you make these connections stronger?
- Pay attention. Notice more about the person with whom you’re interacting.
- Look for similarities and points of contact.
- Comment on what you find interesting.
- Compliment on what you find praiseworthy.
Connecting in this way makes you more human and makes your business less sterile. Connecting with another person, even briefly, is always superior to simply completing a transaction.
About the Author:
Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE, is the president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an “idea studio” that seeks to motivate and develop leaders in and outside of business. He’s the best-selling author of the books Fred Factor and The Potential Principle and a noted expert on leadership, team building, customer service and company change. He holds the Certified Speaking Professional designation from the National Speakers Association and is a member of the Speaker Hall of Fame. Check out any of his excellent books; his video series, “Team Building: How to Motivate and Manage People”; or his website, marksanborn.com, to learn more.