The almighty concept of developing relationships in business is very tough to get right. But we all know that it’s essential to not just build success now and in the future, but to build loyalty and trust. Regardless of who it is – whether it’s your partners, suppliers, employees, or customers – strong relationships will always contribute to an amazing and rewarding business environment. But how do we improve our relationships in every area of the business? Let’s break it down and show you in terms of each area:
If you want to improve your relationships with your customers you’ve got to prioritise communication. Of course, it’s not just about this but there are some essential areas that you should focus on, especially in relation to your customer base.
Personalising your services is critical because customers want to feel special. This means you need to tailor your interactions based on what your customers want. We all want to feel unique and the great thing is that now there’s a number of different approaches you can utilise regardless of your industry, especially in relation to customer relationship management software. For example, fire safety experts can use tools such as BuildOps to work towards a far more personal service for each customer.
Stakeholders and Investors
A stakeholder is not the same thing as a customer. Somebody who has an active interest in the business is going to be far more engaged and therefore they need greater transparency. You need to be open and honest about the current state of the business whether it’s in relation to its financial health or progress. Therefore, you need to provide regular reports to keep those stakeholders informed about your business performance.
You should also recognise that sometimes a stakeholder is not necessarily up to date with what is happening but may also not understand your business strategies. You need to make sure that the stakeholders understand your long-term commitments and strategies to meet the appropriate goals. You should also look at engaging your stakeholders in certain ways. Allowing them to participate will give them a greater sense of involvement. There are so many ways in which we can do this, not just through meetings, but through events or specific initiatives. You have to remember that your stakeholders or investors need to see that what they are investing in, whether it’s financially or emotionally, is actually bringing about the results they want.
Suppliers and Partners
The supply chain is a very tough part of the business to get right because there are so many individual components. This is not just about your relationship with your supplier but it’s about recognising that all the bits in between operate effectively as well. When working with suppliers you need to have an environment of open and honest collaboration and communication.
We also need to remember that the importance of having open and honest communication is not just to benefit ourselves but about making sure that both parties benefit. When working with suppliers or partners you also need to make sure that the legal side of the equation is covered. Misunderstandings can be commonplace, especially if you’re working with a supplier on the other side of the world. Agreements and watertight contracts will prevent any misunderstandings and while this is a legal box-ticking exercise, it can cover you in so many different ways.
What we also need to remember is that for an effective working relationship with any supplier or partner is that there is the opportunity for feedback. We need them to let us know if there are any issues that we can address right away but we also need to make sure that any supplier is actually delivering what they promise. There are many suppliers out there and we can feel that perhaps we need to make sure they are working harder but, again, it is about guaranteeing that both sides of the equation are happy. If you’re not delivering what you promise you will need to make some swift changes.
We can stimulate good working relationships with our investors or suppliers but we have to remember that people within our industry also need to be respectful of us, and we of them. We must have an effective working relationship that is underpinned by professional respect.
Working with competitors is a very difficult setup. You need to be aware that your competitors could underpin you but also you need to contribute positively to the industry as a whole. Collaboration or partnerships that benefit both parties can seem like the furthest thing from your mind but it is a very useful thing to consider, especially if you are struggling during those first few years. We also need to connect with others in our field through industry events and seminars. But what we have to remember is that to have a good working relationship with any competitor, we should not keep our cards close to our chest.
There may be things you wish to keep under wraps, especially if you’ve got an amazing product that is not legally watertight yet, but sharing knowledge and insights is an excellent way to weed out the good companies from the bad. Companies that are keen to steal your idea, you can instigate legal action through specialists like Tozers, as long as you are within your rights to do so. When we work with peers in our industry it should all come from a place of professionalism.
Our employees are critical to the overall success of our business. Employees need certain things so they can feel part of the business. Something like autonomy and the ability to contribute ideas and decisions is essential. We must give their employees the ability to feel like they can contribute to the organisation, but what’s more, we should acknowledge and welcome collaboration.
Many businesses feel like they shouldn’t allow people to come up with ideas because it’s beyond their pay grade. A good idea is a good idea. But we also need to remember that our employees are not just contributing to the business but they need to contribute to themselves. Job satisfaction is essential and giving them a healthy work-life balance will contribute to their well-being. Above all else, we have to be transparent with our employees and this will invariably create a culture that will not just make your employees feel secure but will also appeal to others who wish to work within the industry.
The task of building and maintaining relationships is a lot of time and effort. We must understand how we can meet the needs of others. By fostering positive relationships we can create a stronger foundation for growth and success.
While developing our business is something that can take a lot of time and effort, if we are to give ourselves a fighting chance of being a successful organisation, it’s nothing to do with how we promote ourselves through our marketing tactics or having the right product because these are things that we can invariably change to meet the needs of our audience. Instead, it’s about making sure that those relationships that we have in every part of our business are nurtured, and when we ensure those relationships have everything they need we will nourish everyone.
In a world where AI and machine learning appear to take over everything, there’s one part of running a business that we are severely neglecting, and that’s the power of human-centred relationships that will prevail over any tech or tool.
Image Credits: Invest Europe