If I had it to do all over again, I would still study communication. The benefits of what I’ve learned, and continue to learn, are applicable to literally every aspect of my life. One of the interesting connections I’ve made is that business life and ‘real’ life have a lot more in common than people generally think. For example, one thing I have come to know is that leaders will lead; boardrooms, families, PTO meetings, corporations, it doesn’t matter… they’ve got it. Another thing I’ve learned is that while it is indeed a new world, era, age… and yes, things have changed, are changing, and will continue to create new worlds for all of us, a lot of really important things remain the same. Managing relationships and understanding the importance of the way we treat people stay at the top of that list.
The truth is that it doesn’t really matter if you are talking about a friend, spouse, child, co-worker, boss or client. The way you treat people will determine the path of any relationship. After all, the #1 reason one spouse leaves another and the #1 reason customers leave a company are the same: they don’t think you care about them. In business, out of all the millions of things that go on in public and behind the scenes that keep a company running, producing and succeeding, old-fashioned customer service may still be the most important thing we do. Yet, personal relationships seem to suffer the most and be the biggest challenge for many individuals and thousands of businesses. We run out of time, get busy, get overloaded, overwhelmed, bogged down and life gets just plain crazy. We forget his name, her business, that email or phone call. But in the end, it is those who don’t forget, who call others by name and listen to understand, not to reply, who find success across the board.
Researchers have spent a great deal of time trying to understand consumers and what makes them tick. Some of the things they have proven to be true are that:
- Email is worth the effort. According to Ascend2, 48% of businesses say that email is their most effective form of communication and Bizo states that 60% of B2B companies report email as the most effective channel for generating revenue. And yet, as much as it blows my mind, 32% of all customer email requests are never answered at all.
- The message is critical. You care about what they care about and want to hear what they have to say. If you aren’t interested in them, their vision as well as their challenges, it isn’t worth their time to talk to you. Remember, they are overwhelmed, stressed and busy humans too.
- You aren’t listening. 80% of companies report that they are delivering great service and 8% of consumers feel they are receiving great service. See the problem here?
- A negative experience can be shared with more than 3,000 people. A positive experience can create a customer, or a friend, for life.
Relationships are relationships. You already know that all of them, all shapes, sizes, and contexts, require some give and take. If you want a person, customer, or business to invest in you, you have to invest in them. Yep, I know you’re busy… we all are. But take the time to remember a name (read a blog or a book if you need help with this), answer emails and phone calls quickly, and generally make people feel like you care. The simplest way to great relationships of any kind is based on empathy (and an old Biblical truth you may have heard of): treat people the way you want to be treated.
Building relationships is something we take very seriously at Irons Media Group. In fact, it’s the cornerstone of our business. If we can be of service to you, or if you just want to put us to the test, we’d love to hear from you…. I promise we’ll answer.
Marie Mallory, PR/Communications Specialist, Irons Media Group