Another record year for entrepreneurship could be in store for 2022. But how many of these new business owners end up succeeding will depend on more than the quality of the products and services they offer.
Creating and nurturing customer relationships allow businesses to offer a more personalized and enticing customer experience, which produces the buyer loyalty that is vital to a company’s long-term success, says James Webb, a successful entrepreneur in the medical and fitness sectors and author of A Country Boy’s Journey To Prosperity.
“Relationships are the greatest asset an entrepreneur has,” Webb says. “To retain customers, it requires a process that turns every touchpoint with a customer into an opportunity for communication, trust, and mutual growth.”
But Webb emphasizes that an entrepreneur’s success is also highly contingent upon the strength of other business relationships as well.
“Good relationships with employees bring new meaning to work, strong productivity and new ideas that carry the business forward,” Webb says. “Relationships with financial partners allow you to take risks. Mentors and colleagues can help you view strategy and processes through a different lens.
“The more you cultivate all of these business relationships, the more you, they, and your business can grow. But you can’t take them for granted. Relationships are gardens that need tending.”
Webb offers these tips to entrepreneurs on how to strengthen their relationships with customers and other business associates:
Invite customer feedback. Webb says to truly know where your company stands with customers and what you can do to improve and better meet their needs, you need to survey their thoughts about your products and services – ideally in person. “Most of the time unsatisfied customers don’t approach you with a detailed list of things they’d like for you to improve on,” Webb says. “They just leave for one of your competitors. So set aside time to get their feedback and show them you care.”
Make your customer feel valued through the entire experience. “Consider the customer experience from start to finish,” Webb says. “Find opportunities to go the extra mile and make shopping with your company enjoyable. Positive words will spread like wildfire about your business, especially on social media, and remember, negative words can spread, too. Make customers feel they’re a part of something special by making them feel special.” A key part to the customer experience equation, Webb notes, is providing good website content that gives them insight and a quick path to solutions.
Encourage a sense of ownership among your employees. Webb says giving employees a voice in major decisions, more responsibility and allowing them to own stock are ways to create a sense of ownership and strong ties between your employees and your business. “Inspiring your employees to love your business as much as you do will strengthen your company’s foundation,” Webb says. “Your business will be that much more likely to survive setbacks and grow.”
Be generous with compliments. “Employees know you can’t give them a raise every time they do a good job, but recognizing them when they do good work makes them feel appreciated and goes a long way toward making them want to stay at your company,” Webb says.
Value your vendors. People who service your company regularly are a big part of the infrastructure that keeps your company rolling. “Treat them like honorary employees,” Webb says. “Everyone from your suppliers to your web designer is an important part of your extended team, and nurturing these relationships with nice gestures and consistent communication will just make your company stronger from the ground up.”
“It’s critical to be humble enough to understand that you need great relationships to succeed as an entrepreneur,” Webb says. “I’ve seen talented people fail because they thought they could do it alone.”