In business, it's easy to burn bridges with people -- to DESTROY relationships with your customers, clients, employees, vendors, etc. It's one of the biggest mistakes I see businesses make. And quite frankly, it's a stupid mistake. It's so stupid, I'm willing to admit I was the reigning champ of burning bridges with my clients and friends...and it cost me dearly. There was a time in my life when:
I am happy to say, however, that I've mended my ways. The primary reason I got my act together was because a teacher of mine gave me a proverbial 'slap-in-the-face' and said, "your business is about RELATIONSHIPS and you are destroying all of them." I really took that to heart. I do understand that it's important to cultivate, maintain and nurture relationships with the people we do business with. My business (marketing coaching) relies completely on my REPUTATION, credibility, and the rapport I build and keep with my clients. If I burn bridges with my clients, I burn a little bit of myself along the way. Positive relationships are the key to success in business.
REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
What if we've already burned bridges with the people we've done business with in the past? Is it too late to make PEACE? Or, how do we prevent burning bridges with the people we're doing business with now? Below are a few strategies that I use to prevent burning bridges and to nurture positive relationships with my clients:
Always treat your customers like dear and VALUED friends. Do the nice things for them that you'd do for your best friend or a family member.
If your customer has a problem, RECTIFY it as soon as possible. Communicate with them always. Let them know exactly how you intend to handle the problem, and when you'll be in contact with them next.
Always try to conduct yourself nobly and PROFESSIONALLY in the end, as well as in the beginning of a relationship with your customer.
If the business or customer relationship doesn't work out, attempt to salvage whatever GOODWILL is still left in the relationship. Just because it didn't work out with them, doesn't mean they wouldn't refer others to you...as long as you treat them with respect. Despite any differences of opinion, work hard to be honest and positive. Always be noble, respectful and genuine.
IT'S NEVER TOO LATE
The message is simple: People understand that things go wrong. They understand that you forget. They understand that you get busy. They understand that you and your product or service may be imperfect. All they want is to feel like you RESPECT them, you care about them, and that you'll do whatever it takes to help them. If you've burned bridges in the past, it's not too late to start re-building them now. Positive relationships are the key to success in business, and it starts with YOU, now.
Craig Valine is the publisher of The AwfulMarketing Alert Newsletter, "Where you learn good marketing strategies by looking at the mistakes of others" Visit awfulmarketing.com.
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