A REALationship occurs when you value your connection with the person you are doing business with greater than the money that is changing hands. The results are doing business with trust & openness which ultimately leads to more success. Do you have REALationships with your clients and customers? Are your clients and customers comfortable asking you the hard questions?
Recently I received a call from a client where we had just done a mockup for their new website. He called me after reviewing the mockup and he sounded hesitant. I asked him how close we were to what he intended and his reply was “how honest do you want me to be?” I replied, “100%!” He said he thought we had missed the mark which was disappointing to hear, so I asked him if it looked like the wireframe he had approved. And for those who don’t know, a wireframe is a rough mockup where we position the primary elements of the website prior to the design phase. He confirmed that it was similar to the mockup, which gave me comfort and we discussed that the was the color elements had been implemented just really threw him off. Some of it was my fault for not conveying a few key points to the designer and some of it was on the clients end, having a few different people involved in the process that gave inconsistent information. In the end we worked it all out, went back to the design phase and everyone was happy.
Later on that same day, I met with the other partner in the firm and he asked “so, do you hate us?” And I responded “what do you mean?” to which he mentioned the website issue. I said “I thought you knew me well enough… what would be a problem is if you accepted something you didn’t like and thought of how much you hated it every time you looked at it.”
Growing your business isn’t just about finding people who will pay you for your product or service. It’s about relationships, and good ones at that. The stronger your relationships are with your clients, the more referrals they will send you. And when you have issues (and you will) they will be able to discuss them with you instead of going silent. You will also not dread calling them if you have what would normally seem like bad news, because there is a trust there and they know will do your best to serve their needs regardless. And even if you totally fail, a client with whom you have a REALationship won’t kick you to the curb, they will be glad that they don’t have to start over because had it not been for the relationship, the business connection may have severed.
In closing keep in mind that you can also make more money, but you can’t always salvage a damaged relationship.