Warren Buffet famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a great relationship with a customer. It only takes 5 minutes to ruin it.” I mostly agree; it can actually be ruined in about 5 seconds. Weather you are an entrepreneur or an intra-preneur (working for someone else), these four principles will still apply.
Always Better

Many people will say they have great relationships with their customers / clients. That may be true, but they can always be better. Your customers buy from you, but are they an ambassador for your brand? Your clients take your calls, but are you a partner in their decision making? Top brands like NordstromDisneyApple and Starbucks implement services to constantly improve and maintain high levels of engagement with their customers and guests. Do you want to improve your customer relationship skills? Here are some tips:

 Ask Questions

Good sales people know the secret to increased sales is listening more than you talk. The same rule applies to improved customer relationships. Ask your clients how you are doing. Give them a brief survey after they buy. Talk to them during the buying process. Asking questions helps you learn about them. When you ask questions, it helps them learn more about you and your brand. This builds trust, and trust is a good thing.

Excellence Always

Give Them Something

It doesn’t have to be a toaster (i.e. – banking industry). You can offer them recognition on your blog site or during a tweet. I “feel special” when Nordstrom mentions me in a tweet or Zimana Analytics retweets one of my quotesDunkin Donuts and Zappos put their “Customer of the Week” on their Facebook page. Whether you give you clients a physical product or simply recognize them publicly, your actions should make you stand out from your competition.

Back to Basics 

Occasionally I give presentations for free (something else to give away). I love the Thank You cards I receive following the event. Cash has never been included, but the fact that they “wrote a note” is greatly appreciated. Instruct your employees to always: smile, say welcome visitors, shake hands and say “Thank you” as people leave (whether they buy from you or not). When you walk into Moe’s Southwester Grill, they are greeted with a “Welcome to Moe’s!” Customers want to go where people know their name (thanks Cheers!).


Many companies offer incentives and reward programs. Nordstrom gives it’s members the chance to shop early at certain times of the year. Retailers offer incentives for frequent shopping. Make sure to let them know what the rewards are before they enroll / sign up. No one wants to run a race and not know what the reward will be. 

Notice none of the solutions to customer relations were about price. Lowering the price temporarily increases sales, but it will not have the same effect on perceptions of value. The goal is always to build ambassadors for your brand. You want people to celebrate and promote your company, even when you are not around.  

Scientifically Speaking, of course. 

Next Week: Build a Winning Pricing Strategy