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Relating to Your Customers

In an earlier post, “Providing Stellar Customer Service”, we talked about obtaining and retaining customers. But there are other aspects of customer service. That element is how we relate to them. Especially, as our client base expands, it’s difficult to have a personal relationship with them all. This same advice applies to your relations with employees. That isn’t to say have to become “friends” with any of them. There is, however, a happy medium.

I’ve flown many times in my life. There are two airlines that I prefer to fly. Other than their safety and prices, my preference for them is for a totally different reason. I love their staff. They treat their customers with respect and have fun with them. Everyone wants to have fun and do business with companies that bring it!

When I’m doing business, or spending time, with someone, I don’t want to deal with a person that sounds miserable. How are you coming across to the people in your path? Let’s say you (or someone that works for you) is speaking to clients on the phone. Do they have a friendly approach or a robotic one? Enthusiasm is an important element in speaking to people. If you’re excited, they’ll be excited. Your results will be proof.

I was taught years ago that when you smile while speaking to someone on the phone, it changes the inflection of your voice. Try it… it works. If someone is in a bad mood and frowning, you can hear that too. It seems like a small thing, but aren’t the small things really the biggest?

It’s been said that people find others interesting when they listen. Meaning, if you sat in a room with someone and you talked most of the time and they listened, you would find me more interesting. You would take a better liking to them. Of course, you never want to monopolize a conversation like that, especially in your personal relationships. But in business especially, be the primary listener. You were given one mouth and two ears for a reason. Use accordingly.

There are also some great things to keep in mind when you are personally in front of people. Eye contact is imperative in relating to people. It lets people know you are fully engaged in what they are saying to you. I’ve always looked a person in the right eye and it seems to work in holding attention. And please, never leave your sunglasses on when speaking to someone… unless you’re outside.

Body language is another useful tool in building relationships. Whenever you are able to, always sit a little lower or equal to the person you’re speaking to. This puts them at ease and doesn’t feel intimidating. You don’t want someone to feel like you’re attacking them.

Did you know that your handshake tells a lot about you? Yes, there’s a right way to shake someone’s hand. You want to have a firm shake, while making eye contact. Limp fingers or “dead fish” shakes make you seem weak and quite frankly, creeps people out. Unless you know someone well, do not “sandwich” a person’s hand. This feels invasive to the receiver.

I encourage you to pay attention to not only your habits, but watch those around you. Really observe the people in your circle and beyond. Do you know someone very successful? Study how they interact with their counterparts. Do the same when watching someone that maybe doesn’t exude much confidence. I think you’ll find it a fascinating exercise and see interesting results.

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