Close The Feedback Loop
Every interaction with your customer is a chance to learn something valuable about them and to show them you appreciate the partnership. They can teach you about their needs, your industry, your competitors, and most importantly, the true value they get from your products. Take advantage of what they have to say and bring them into the loop on your plans. Because we value openness at Imagineer, in our case that means transparently sharing our road map and talking as frankly about the features we won’t build as those we can’t wait to deliver.

Making your customers feel like insiders heightens their sense of importance and belonging to your mission. It’s also a great way to turn them into advocates for your product and your company, and who doesn’t want more evangelists?

Once you’re sharing your plans with, and collecting feedback from, your customers, you need to make sure to close the loop. Follow up with them when their feedback makes it into your products or processes.

Maintain Consistent Communication And Service
One of the most aggravating experiences for customers is receiving conflicting messages in different interactions with a company. This often occurs because the proper standards for customer communication either don’t exist or aren’t being followed. The only thing worse than this for customer relationships is when staff aren’t experienced or trained well enough to handle issues in the first place. An example of this that comes to mind happened to me a couple of years ago. We had a teammate who loved making clients happy. So much, in fact, that on a number of occasions, they made promises we wouldn’t normally make and then failed to bring those promises to the attention of their teammates. Definitely not our finest hour.

Continuously training your teams on your products and procedures can help with this. So can teaching them how to set and manage customer expectations (but that’s a piece for another time). Your services teams relish opportunities to solve problems for your customers but you don’t want them feeling the need to improvise at every turn.

Keep The 5 Ps Front And Center
The 5 Ps model teaches the importance of implementing policies that support a company’s premise, products, processes, and people. Your business can’t thrive unless it attracts and retains customers. This model reminds us that the premise behind a company and the products it makes act as attractors, but aren’t enough to capture long-term value by themselves. To do that, a company needs powerful retainers – repeatable processes and well-trained people to drive performance. Achieving a healthy balance of the 5 Ps can mean the difference between ho-hum and exceptional customer relationships.

As with any relationship, demonstrating your ongoing commitment to making your customers successful takes continuous effort, but the hard work is worth it. At the end of the day, your customers are your most important asset, and are ultimately what keep you in business. As a leader, it is your duty to make sure they know how important they are. 

Jeremie Bacon is CEO of Imagineer Technology Group.

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