This connection guest blog comes to you from Maryann Croce, co-owner of Croce’s Transmission Specialists. Maryann oversees customer relations and marketing for the company, among many other roles, and is sharing five strategic ways to build better relationships to support business growth. Connect with Maryann on Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook | Google+ | Pinterest
The Art of Building Business Relationships
This is about giving first and looking at the bigger picture. Put yourself out there. Be vulnerable and genuine while others are being careful.
Relationship building has been around forever but the internet has changed the way we live and the way we do business. We’re always in research mode. With a phone, tablet or computer at our disposal 24/7 we have the answer to just about anything we need to know. Many rely heavily on review sites and social media connections before making a buying decision.
Today, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of building relationships because of the disconnection from the very people we are seeking to do business with. Think about it. We can function without any human contact and still get things done. We can bank, online chat with customer service issues, shop online, fill the gas tank, schedule appointments, use a self-checkout lane and rent a movie without speaking to another person. Because so many businesses are competing for our online attention; we’ve learned to block out, click “skip ad” and fast forward most advertising. We discredit the “commercial” feel of many ads, that years ago seemed professional. Today we want transparency and authenticity.
For businesses the challenge is marketing creativity, so our messages will resonate and ultimately lead to new clients/ customers. Building relationships starts with your differentiator. Keeping your customer/client in mind, ask yourself:
- Why should they choose me?
- What’s in it for them?
- What problem will I solve?
5 ways we’ve built business relationships that best serve our customers and create momentum in our business.
Embrace it. Use it for websites designed to start the “Know, Like and Trust” journey with prospective clients/customers. Use list building, providing you will nurture the list(s) and give people the opportunity to connect. Make it easy for them to ask a question, schedule your service or make a purchase. Through social media, surveys and reviews you can learn what your client/customer pain points are. I use software and technology to streamline the customer service process and solicit honest feedback. I use this feedback to improve marketing and also to identify areas to improve in our business.
I’ve heard “knowledge is power.” Its power comes from taking action (implementing). Continued training, networking events, association dues and travel come at a cost of time and/or money. Without setting achievable goals it’s easy to become an information junkie. Make sure you’re open to stepping out of your comfort zone so your time and/or money are well spent.
For me, the decision to become AskPatty Certified Female Friendly was from networking at a trade association. I was looking for ways to better serve my female customers. The training was great and AskPatty provides valuable educational content worth sharing. This was another way to erase the fear of auto repair for females.
It’s easy to take for granted how much you know. Your customers/clients may feel intimidated by your industry jargon. By providing clear explanations that our audience understands and walking them through our diagnostic process, we eliminate the fear of auto repair and empower them to make informed decisions. This builds trust!
PARTNERING WITH COMPETITORS
We started Croce’s Transmission Specialists in 1999. Our mission: Bring professionalism to the auto repair industry. Helping other local, reputable auto repair shops to attract and partner with great people in our industry was a no brainer. We met with general repair shops, which most would consider competitors and established relationships by sharing our mission, expertise with transmissions and offered to help in anyway so they could best serve their customers. Other repair shops started to contact us with diagnosing issues and our team took the call and advised. At times we took the vehicle for a road test or even visited the shop to address their concern. Over time this lead to relationships with dealerships and municipalities that outsource work to us as well.
THE POWER OF F.A.Q.
Don’t underestimate how frequently asked questions can guide your marketing and help your customers. We’ve created a knowledge base with “You Auto Know” blog posts that customers or prospects can use to educate them on proper car care, maintenance and repair. We also share great content provided by trade associations and non-profits that we trust. Customer service representatives are the best people to include in marketing meetings. They’re the people who are addressing all of the customer questions or concerns by phone calls, emails, text messages and face to face. I continually look at my website and marketing messages to address customer/client FAQ.
Sharing what I’ve learned over the years with customers, our team and other businesses has opened the doors to opportunities I couldn’t imagine just a few years ago. Speaking at local car care classes and at schools for career night helps our community and the next generation of young men and women coming into the auto industry. We’re working on adding video to educate consumers as well as help other businesses. We also offer advancement opportunities and training to our team.
Learning is a constant in business. I try to learn something new every day. Over the years we’ve been honored recipients of CT BBB Consumer Education Award and the Great Norwalk Chamber Small Business Award. We’ve been featured in several trade magazines as well as podcasts. The takeaway: When I look back to 1999 and our mission: Bring professionalism to the auto repair industry. I realize with the help or our caring team we’re making a difference.
What can you add to this list? Please share about your success in the comments.