101 Ways to

Build Better
Relationships
with Your
Customers
Peter R. Garber

HRD Press, Inc.
Amherst, Massachusetts

Copyright © 2007, Peter R. Garber

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or
used in an information storage or retrieval system, without
prior written permission from the author.

Published by: HRD Press, Inc.
22 Amherst Road
1-800-822-2801
(U.S. and Canada)
1-413-253-3488
1-413-253-3490 (Fax)
www.hrdpress.com

ISBN: 978-1-59996-050-0

Cover design by Eileen Klockars
Production services by Anctil Virtual Office
Editorial services by Sally M. Farnham

Table of Contents
Introduction ................................................................
..................................................................
..................................
Getting to Know Your Customer........................
Universal in Nature ............................................
You Are Responsible..........................................
How to Use This Book ........................................

1
1
2
3
4

Part 1: Customer Expectations ...................................
...................................
1. Try as Hard to Keep the
Customer’s Business as You
Did to Get it in the First Place ................
2. Keep Your Promises ...............................
3. Follow up with the Customer ..................
4. Avoid Selling Tactics ...............................
5. Send the Customer
Thank-you Letters ...................................
6. Don’t Take Credit That’s Not Yours........
7. Help Make the Customer
Feel Good About the Purchase...............
8. Think Outside the Box.............................
9. Pay Attention to Details ..........................
10. Close Loops .............................................
11. Don’t Have Hidden Agendas ..................
12. Keep Internal Problems
from the Customer..................................
13. Value Your Relationship
with the Customer...................................
14. Don’t Cry “Wolf” to the Customer...........
15. Give the Customer Reasons to
Brag About You........................................
16. Expect Less from the Customer .............

7

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
iii

17. Don’t Expect the Customer to
Do Your Homework .................................
18. Be Accessible to the Customer ..............
19. Be Responsive.........................................
20. Be Responsible .......................................
21. Exercise Flexibility ...................................
22. Be Reliable ..............................................
23. Lose Graciously .......................................
24. Don’t Over Commit..................................
25. Do What You Say You Will Do .................
26. Don’t Oversell ..........................................
Part 2: Problem Solving Together ...............................
27. Put Things into Perspective
for the Customer .....................................
28. Reduce Paperwork for the Customer.....
29. Be a Contingency Thinker .......................
30. Be Creative ..............................................
31. Don’t Follow the 80/20 Rule
with the Customer...................................
32. Be Proactive ............................................
33. Prevent Problems Before They Occur ....
34. Do Things Right the First Time ...............
35. Help Reduce Cycle Time
for the Customer .....................................
36. Synergize with the Customer..................
37. Reduce Your Company’s
Bureaucracy ............................................
38. Bend the Rules for the Customer...........
39. Be a Problem Solver................................
40. Refer the Customer to
Other Sources..........................................
41. Look for Other Possibilities.....................
42. Roll with the Punches .............................
iv

26
27
29
30
31
32
33
35
37
38
41
43
44
45
46
47
49
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
59
61
62

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

Part 3: Communica
Communicating
ting with the Customer .................
43. Learn the Customer’s Language............
44. Keep the Customer in Your
Company’s Communications Loop ........
45. Have the Top Executives in
Your Company Meet the Customer ........
46. Don’t Fill the Customer’s
Voice Mail–Box with Messages..............
47. Don’t Call the Customer on Their
First Day Back from Vacation .................
48. Don’t Put the Customer On Hold............
49. Get on the Customer’s Mailing List........
50. Keep Confidential Information
Confidential .............................................
51. Really Listen to the Customer ................
52. Always Be a Page Away...........................
53. Be Computer Compatible .......................
54. Be a “Safe Ear” for the Customer ..........
55. Give Feedback to the Customer.............
56. Don’t Spread Rumors
About the Customer ................................
57. Don’t Let the Customer
See You Sweat ........................................
58. Admit Your Mistakes ...............................
59. Don’t Burden the Customer
with Your Problems .................................
60. Don’t B.S. the Customer .........................
61. Keep Good Records ................................
62. Don’t Become a Nuisance
to the Customer ......................................
63. Understand When “No” Means “No” .....
64. Link Electronically to the Customer .......

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

63
65
67
68
69
71
73
74
76
78
80
81
83
84
86
87
89
91
92
93
95
97
99

v

Part 4: Understanding the Customer ..........................
65. Be a “Constant” During Change.............
66. Read the Customer’s Annual Report .....
67. Study the Customer’s History .................
68. Ask the Customer if it is a
Good Time to Call ....................................
69. Take the Customer to Lunch ..................
70. Keep the Customer’s
Priorities in Mind .....................................
71. Stay “In Tune” with
the Customer’s Business........................
72. Empathize with the Customer ................
73. Feel the Customer’s Pain........................
74. Understand the
Customer’s Requirements......................
75. Consider the
Customer’s Perspective ..........................
76. Anticipate the Customer’s Needs...........

101
103
104
105

Part 5: Supporting the Customer ................................
77. Give the Customer the
Benefit of the Doubt................................
78. Avoid Conflicts of Interest.......................
79. Keep the Customer’s Logo
in Your Computer ....................................
80. Talk Nicely About the Customer .............
81. Join the Customer’s Team ......................
82. Collaborate with the Customer...............
83. Help the Customer Accept Change ........
84. Play a Supportive Role
for the Customer .....................................
85. Treat the Customer Like a Friend...........
86. Don’t Take Unfair Advantage..................

117

vi

106
107
108
109
110
111
112
114
116

119
120
121
123
125
127
128
130
132
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101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

87. Become a Resource
to the Customer ......................................
88. Think Win/Win with the Customer .........
89. Be a Team Player ....................................
90. Think Long-term Relationships...............
91. Don’t Waste the Customer’s Time .........
92. Act Like a Business Partner ...................
Part 6: Achieving Results ............................................
............................................
93. Deliver on Your Deliverables ..................
94. Sell with Class .........................................
95. Share Awards with the Customer...........
96. Don’t Depend on the
Customer’s Loyalty..................................
97. Help the Customer Reduce Costs ..........
98. Focus on Beating
the Customer’s Competition...................
99. Focus on Getting the
Customer Results....................................
100. Look for Ways to Add Value
to the Customer ......................................
101. Search for Ways to Improve
Your Service or Product ..........................

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

134
136
138
139
141
143
145
147
149
150
151
153
154
155
157
158

vii

Introduction

Your relationships with your customers can be the most
important factor to your success in business. More
business is gained or lost as a result of a supplier’s
relationship with the customer rather than as a result of
their ability to provide a quality service or product.
However, as in your dealings with other people in other
aspects of your life, building a good relationship with
your customers can take a long time to build and only
a short time to break down. One incident can damage
what you worked hard for a long time, possibly even
years, to build. There are many different ways to build
stronger working relationships with customers. However, there are no absolutes, no necessarily right
or wrong ways, and no shortcuts. What might work
effectively with one customer could be detrimental or
even destructive to your relationship with another
customer.

Getting to Know Your Customer
You need to get to know your customers and what is
most important to maintaining good working relationships with them. Building better customer relationships
is not just something that would be nice to do—it is
something that you must do if you expect to be successful in business today.

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

1

The competition is getting tougher every day. There will
always be a competitor out there just waiting for an
opportunity to get an “in” with your customers. By not
developing relationships with your customers, you could
be “opening the door” for the competition to come in
and take them away.
Building stronger relationships with customers can be
very satisfying in many ways. It provides new opportunities to be of service and to learn what you need to be
focused on not only today, but in the future as well. By
getting to know your customers better, you also learn
more about them and their business. The more you
learn and understand about the customer, the less
likely someone else could even be able to take away
your customer’s business. Your relationships with your
customers can be the best investment in your business
or career that you can ever make.

Universal in Nature
All of the 101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with
Your Customers described in this book are universal
in nature. That is, they would apply regardless of your
business or that of your customer, if you provide a
service or a product to the customer, if you or your
customers are a large or small company, or if you have
been in business a long time or are just starting
out. These 101 Ways are all about people and how
they react or respond to others. Most of the 101 Ways
deal with common courtesies that anyone, regardless of
the situation, would appreciate. Is there any reason why
you wouldn’t or shouldn’t treat your customers with
these same common courtesies? In addition, most of
2

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

the 101 Ways deal with common sense. Again, is there
any reason why you shouldn’t exercise common sense
with your customers?
Knowing and understanding your customers is getting increasingly difficult today as organizations are
becoming more and more complex. The better your
relationship with customers, the better you will be able
to understand them and their ever changing needs.
The world is also changing at an increasingly accelerated pace. So too are most businesses, including your
customers’. Your organization is probably changing as
well. Staying in touch with all these changes requires
extra effort and attention on your part.

You Are Responsible
You are the one who must take the initiative and
responsibility for maintaining and building the relationship between you and your customer. If you depend on
the customer to be the one to be most concerned about
your working relationship together, it might not happen.
Your customers both want and expect you to be the one
to initiate and nurture your business relationship. Your
relationship with the customer is a critically important
aspect of your business and success. Unfortunately, this
is something that is often overlooked or ignored.
Customers are the key to your success—they are
why you are in business. An important link to your
customers is your working relationship with them. If you
lose this relationship, you can also lose their business
and, ultimately, your livelihood.

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

3

Building better relationships with customers goes far
beyond what is typically thought of as meeting this
objective. It is much more than just inviting the
customer to dinner or for a round of golf. It goes beyond
just entertainment. This may indeed be important to
your relationship with the customer, but your relationship involves much more as you will see in these
101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your
Customers.

How to Use This Book
This book includes many important and useful suggestions to help you build better relationships with your
customers. Your working relationship is actually based
on how well you meet the customer’s requirements,
and your customer undoubtedly has many requirements. All of these requirements are important to
your customers. This book is really about how to meet
these requirements. In fact, it could have been
called, “101 Ways to Meet the Requirements of Your
Customers”! This book goes beyond what is typically
expected of you, but can make such an important
difference. These 101 Ways are what can make the
difference between ultimately keeping your customers’
business and losing it to your competition.
This book is divided into six sections: Customer Expectations, Problem Solving Together, Communicating with
the Customer, Understanding the Customer, Supporting
the Customer, and Achieving Results. You can use these
sections to find the general topics you are interested in
learning more about.

4

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

You can use these 101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers to develop training programs
to deal with difficult situations, solve problems with your
customers, create more effective customer service
strategies, and help reach your sales and marketing
goals. There is a brief exercise included in each of these
101 Ways designed to help teach and reinforce the
learning points presented.
The bottom line is that 101 Ways to Build Better
Relationships with Your Customers will help you better
serve your customers. Any time you have contact with a
customer should ultimately help you build a better
relationship. This is the goal that you need to continuously work toward every day you are in business.
After all, that is what your business is based on—your
relationships with your customers.
Good luck and keep building better relationships!

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

5

Part 1
Customer Expectations

1
Try as Hard to Keep the
Customer’s Business as You Did to
Get it in the First Place
You probably worked very hard to get your customer’s
business in the first place. You spent a great deal of
time explaining to the customer the many benefits of
your product or service and of doing business with you.
You learned about the customer’s needs and how you
could meet their requirements. You promised that you
would deliver the quality that the customer demanded—
on time, every time. Now that the sale has already
been made, you need to try just as hard to keep the
customer’s business as you did to get it in the first
place. You need to look at every interaction with the
customer as if you are trying to get their business for
the first time. You need to work just as hard to keep
their business as you did to get it in the first place.
How can you make the customer feel that you are trying
just as hard to keep their business as you did to get it?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

9

2
Keep Your Promises
You might make promises to your customer in many
different ways. These could be in the form of guarantees
or warranties, a contract you signed with the customer, or
simply telling the customer you would do something.
Regardless, a promise is a promise, and you need to
live up to it. Keeping your promises is fundamental
to maintaining any relationship. It is certainly no less
important to your relationships with your customers.
What are some of the promises you have made to your
customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What can you do to ensure that you keep these promises?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

3
Follow up with the Customer
Follow-up is critically important to providing excellent
service to the customer. Most of the time, follow-up
efforts do not require any significant additional effort or
service. But the benefits of follow-up with your customers can be immeasurable. Following up to ensure
that the customer’s needs are being met shows that you
are committed and care about their business. It is
amazing what a simple question such as “Is everything
going all right with our product/service?” can impact the
customer’s opinion and attitude about doing business
with you.
How can you ensure that there is follow-up with your
customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What opportunities might there be to provide additional
follow-up with customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can this follow-up be provided?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

11

4
Avoid Selling Tactics
Selling tactics are those gimmicks that some people
think can make the difference between a customer buying something or not. However, most customers can
spot selling tactics a mile away. Selling tactics can
cause customers to lose trust in those who are trying to
get them to buy something. They might wonder why the
salesperson would need to resort to such tactics. “Why
is the salesperson trying to pressure me so much to get
a sale?” the customer might ask him-/herself. “Might it
be that the product or service is so inferior that it needs
to be sold in this way?” Avoid using selling tactics with
your customers. You will not only help your relationship
with the customer, but also their perception of your
product.
What are some selling tactics that you should avoid
when dealing with customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

5
Send the Customer Thank-you Letters
It might sound trivial, but most people do appreciate
receiving a thank-you note or letter for something they
have done. Sending your customer a “thank-you” for an
order or simply continuing doing business with you can
only help strengthen your working relationship together.
Sometimes it can be the smallest things that can make
the biggest difference in your relationship with others.
What opportunities do you have to thank your customers for their business?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can you say thank you to your customers in other ways?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

13

6
Don’t Take Credit That’s Not Yours
It may seem that so often you don’t get credit for things
that you really do deserve that it only seems fair
that you should be able to get credit for something that
you don’t deserve once in awhile! However, if the
customer should ever discover that you took credit for
something that you really didn’t do, it could seriously
affect your credibility. You need to make sure that the
customer has an accurate understanding of what
results you were responsible for as well as what you
don’t deserve credit for. The customer will respect your
honesty and ethics when you say, “I can’t take credit for
that; the credit really belongs to someone else.”
Ultimately it is this type of character and honesty that
build long-lasting business relations with customers.
For what results might you have to clarify, for the customer, who really deserves credit?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
Finish the following sentence:
I can’t take credit for ______________________________;
credit rightfully belongs to _________________________.

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101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

7
Help Make the Customer
Feel Good About the Purchase
Have you ever bought something and then wondered
if you just did the right thing? This might have occurred
for any number of reasons including the salesperson’s
attitude about the product or service you purchased. If
the salesperson didn’t have confidence in the product
or service, how could you ever be expected to feel good
about the purchase?
Customers want to know that they are making the right
decision to buy from you. Thus, you need to be able to
help them understand why they have made the right
decision to buy from you. You need to help the customer
feel good about their purchase. Be equipped with all
of the facts, figures, statistics, comparisons, technical
data, etc., needed to help the customer understand why
buying from you is the right thing to do.
How can you help your customers feel good about buying your product or service?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What might you need to do in order to be able to make
your customers feel good about buying from you?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

15

8
Think Outside the Box
A popular cliché today in business is to “think outside
the box.” This means that sometimes you need to go
beyond what conventionally has been done in the past
and find new or different ways of doing things.
Thinking outside the box can also be useful when
dealing with your customers. Sometimes it is the different approach rather than what has always been done
in the past that is most interesting to the customer.
Thinking outside the box can help you find new solutions to old problems or take the customer in directions
never considered before.
Draw a box. Now think of the way you have always done
things in the past with your customers as being inside
this box. Write in the box one thing that comes to mind.
Now, think of ways that you could do things differently
concerning the customer. Write this outside the box.

(continued)

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101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

8. Think Outside the Box (concluded)
What might be some potential benefits of this “outside
the box” idea?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What is preventing you from doing this?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

17

9
Pay Attention to Details
There used to be a company that would always state in
their advertisements, “We pay attention to the details.”
This was a powerful message to their potential customers, letting them know this company was truly
committed to providing the highest quality service
and products possible. Details are important to any
business. Overlooking just one of the countless details
that must be paid attention to can result in significant
problems for the customer. What the customer wants
is for you to pay attention to details so that they don’t
have to worry about them. This way they can focus on
something else—such as their customers’ details.
What are some of the details that your customers would
like you to pay attention to that you may be overlooking now?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What effect might paying attention to these details have
on your relationship with your customer?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

10
Close Loops
“Closing the loop” means that you don’t leave any
loose ends or unfinished business. Providing complete
service to your customers means that you finish what
you start—you don’t leave things undone that cause
problems or delays for the customer. Usually the best
thing to do is to take care of these things as soon as
they come up. That way, they don’t get overlooked or
forgotten about as new things come up. Your customers
want and even demand that their suppliers close all the
loops as they provide their products or services.
What are some of the “loops” that you need to ensure
you close when providing service to your customers that
you might not be taking care of now?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What would be the benefits to both the customer
and your company by doing a better job of closing
these loops?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

19

11
Don’t Have Hidden Agendas
Having a hidden agenda is when someone isn’t completely honest about their motives or objectives. Do not
play this game with your customers. It can be very
deceptive and can cause the customer to lose trust in
you. Be up front about what you are trying to achieve.
Never use or manipulate the customer to serve your
own agenda instead of the customer’s. If you are caught
by the customer doing so, and it is likely that you will be,
it would most likely result in much more damage to your
relationship with the customer than any possible gains
you would receive from having a hidden agenda.
Think about when someone you have dealt with had a
hidden agenda that you initially were not aware of. How
did this make you feel about that person when the
agenda finally became known to you?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What did it do to the trust you had in that person or
persons?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can you make sure that your customers don’t think
you have a hidden agenda with them?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

12
Keep Internal Problems
from the Customer
Sometimes there may be internal problems within an
organization that are of concern to no one else but the
people working for the organization. From time to time,
every company experiences these things. There are
issues that the organization must resolve that may or
may not directly affect its customers. Sometimes there
may be a legitimate reason to tell customers about
these problems to assure them that they won’t be
adversely affected, particularly if these problems
become publicized. But many other times, there is no
reason or need to involve the customer—the problems
will not be apparent to them and are none of their
concern. If this is the case, then why make it their
concern? It may only serve to worry the customer
unnecessarily about the organization’s ability to continue to supply their needs.
What is an example of an internal problem that would
serve no purpose to tell customers about?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

21

13
Value Your Relationship
with the Customer
When you consider something to be of great value, you
do things to preserve and protect it. If you see little or no
value in it, you may quickly discard it or may not nurture
it. How do you feel about your relationships with your
customers? Do you value their relationships or not?
Assuming that you do value these relationships, do you
treat your customers as if you do? Do you do things to
protect or even enhance the value of these relationships? Or do you act like it is little or no value to you?
In what ways can you show your customers that you
value your working relationship with them?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can you enhance the value of these relationships
in the future?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can protecting the value of these relationships help
you continue doing business together in the future?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

14
Don’t Cry “Wolf” to the Customer
Remember the story about the little shepherd boy
who kept deceivingly crying that a wolf was approaching
his flock and unnecessarily summoned all the townspeople? Then one day, a wolf did really show up, but no
one would come to the boy’s aid because they believed
he was trying to fool them again. The moral of the story
is that you should not cry for help unless you really need
it. There is also an important lesson here concerning
your relationships with your customers. Don’t say that
you are in trouble and need help when you really don’t.
Just like the boy in the story, you will only get away with
this so many times. Even worse, in the event that you
really must go to the customer for help, their patience
might be exhausted. They may no longer have any
interest in helping you deal with your problems and
leave you to the “wolves.”
What might be an example of “crying wolf” to your
customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What are the dangers of doing this?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

23

15
Give the Customer Reasons to
Brag About You
Okay, maybe your customers won’t carry around your
picture in their wallet and brag about how wonderful you
are to anyone who will listen! But you do want your
customers saying positive things about you to other
people in the business world. This is the best advertisement you can ever get—one that even money can’t buy.
The only way that this will happen is by giving your
customers reason to brag about you. Sometimes it is
your extra efforts that are the most appreciated by the
customer. Whatever the case, you must find ways to
differentiate yourself from your competition. This is
what keeps the customer coming back as well as telling
others about how good you are!

Bragging Rights
What are some things that your customers might brag
about you to others?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

16
Expect Less from the Customer
Your job is to be of service to the customer. You should
make life easier for them, not more complicated. You
must look for ways to make doing business with you
as simple and easy as possible for the customer. The
less you expect the customer to do, the better. This
might involve reducing the paperwork, forms, number
of people to contact, turnaround time, etc., which is part
of the process of doing business with your organization
that a customer experiences.
What are some ways that you can simplify for your customers the process of buying from you?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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25

17
Don’t Expect the Customer to
Do Your Homework
Don’t expect the customer to do your homework for you.
They probably don’t have the time, interest, education,
or training to do your job. Therefore, you must be prepared and knowledgeable about what you are selling
before contacting the customer. Learn everything you
can—not only about your product or service, but also
the customer’s. If anything, you should be the one
educating the customer about your product or service
and its application, not the other way around.
Have you done all your homework concerning both your
product or service and that of each of your customers?
If not, what sources can you use to become better educated about both?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

26

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

18
Be Accessible to the Customer
Good relationships are based on personal contact.
Building a relationship or even maintaining one is
extremely difficult without this contact. Your accessibility to the customer can have a great impact on your
relationship. If you become no more than a greeting
on a telephone answering machine or an out-of-office
e-mail message, the customer may get frustrated with
trying to communicate with you. These new electronic
communications tools are great, but they can’t replace
good old-fashioned, live, and direct contact with other
people. Don’t over rely on electronic or other impersonal
means to communicate with your customers. Make
yourself accessible to the customer. Find the time if
necessary to meet personally with the customer. Think
of this as one of the best investments you can make in
your relationship with the customer.
(continued)

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

27

18. Be Accessible to the Customer (concluded)
Accessibility Questionnaire
A. If a customer was trying to get in touch with you, how
long would it take before they could actually talk
“live” with you on the telephone?
Less than 1 hour
More than 1 day

4 hours or more
At least a week

1 day

Is this too long? Why or why not?
_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________
B. How often do you meet in person with your customers?
Daily
Quarterly

Weekly
Annually

Monthly
Never

Is this frequently enough? Why or why not?
_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________
C. How can you become more accessible to your customers?
_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________
28

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

19
Be Responsive
Being responsive to the customer’s needs requires
timeliness. Timeliness in this case means immediately!
When a customer calls you with a request or a problem,
they want you to respond as quickly as possible. If any
delays occur on your part, it is like saying to the
customer, “I’ve got something more important than you
that I am doing right now. I will get to your problem as
soon as I don’t have anything more important to do!”
Instead, the message you should be sending the customer must be something more like this: “Your problem
is my top priority, and I am committed to doing everything I can to provide you the service you want and
deserve as quickly as possible.”
Which message do you believe you are currently sending your customers when they call you with a request for
service of some kind? Why?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How could you improve your responsiveness to the
customer?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

29

20
Be Responsible
Being responsible means many things. It can mean
ensuring that customers receive the service they expect
and deserve. It can also mean accepting the credit
or the blame for how well customers’ requirements
are met. Responsibility, particularly when there is a
problem, can become very difficult to assign to anyone,
particularly when things don’t go well with a customer.
There can be a great deal of finger pointing and blame
placing, none of which helps in your relationship with
the customer.
If you are responsible for something that happened
that negatively affected the customer, then you need
to acknowledge it. This allows the corrective action
process to begin without further delay.
Think of an example when you may not have claimed
responsibility for something that occurred that negatively affected a customer. How did this affect the
relationship with this customer?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How could this situation have been better resolved if
you had taken responsibility earlier?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
30

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

21
Exercise Flexibility
Exercising flexibility with the customer means just what
it sounds like—that you can bend in many ways if
necessary. Customers like to have as many options as
possible. No one likes to have a set of rigid rules or
procedures imposed on them. They like to be able to go
in different directions as the situation dictates.
Sometimes we get so set in our own practices and
procedures in business that we lose this important flexibility that is necessary to build and maintain a better
relationship with the customer.
What are some of your current practices or procedures
that may have become rigid over the years and are in
need of flexibility?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can you exercise more flexibility in these areas?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
Now get ready and exercise flexibility with your customers by bending and stretching!
101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

31

22
Be Reliable
When a customer perceives you as being reliable, it
can be one of the most important factors in building
a stronger working relationship with them. What might
seem to be a “given” by the customer may in reality
require a great deal of effort on your part. However, this
reliability can be very important to the customer—they
may even learn to depend on it. In time, the customer
will come to think of you as “old faithful”! Although
there may be many other roles in your life that you
wouldn’t care to be thought of in this way, this can be a
very positive way for the customer to think of you. This
keeps the customer coming back to do business with
you over and over again.
In what ways are you already perceived as reliable by
your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
In what ways would you like your customers to rely on
you more?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What would be the advantages to you of being perceived in this way by your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

32

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

23
Lose Graciously
Nobody likes to lose. But unfortunately, losing sometimes is part of life and business. However, there are
many ways to lose. For instance, you could lose
destructively, in which case you “burn your bridges”
behind you. In terms of dealing with a customer whose
business you just lost, this might mean destroying
what’s left of your working relationship in the process.
You may say or do things in anger about losing their
business that will ensure that they never consider
buying from you ever again in the future. You could
become uncooperative about providing any assistance
to the customer in the transition from your company to
the new supplier. There are many other ways in which
you could be less than helpful as your customer takes
their business elsewhere.
What advantage is there to losing graciously, or in other
words, doing everything you possibly can to make
the customer’s transition to their new supplier go as
smoothly as possible? List below the possible advantages to losing graciously as opposed to losing
destructively.
(continued)

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

33

23. Lose Graciously (concluded)
Losing Graciously
Advantages
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

Losing Destructively
Disadvantages
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

Based on this analysis, which do you think would be the
better approach to losing?
__________________________________________________

34

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

24
Don’t Over Commit
As busy as you probably are today, it can be easy to find
yourself committed to do more things than you could
ever possibly get done. Particularly when dealing with a
customer, you might find yourself over committing yourself as you constantly try to provide better service to
meet their requirements. All this is done in hopes of
building a better relationship with the customer.
However, if you make these commitments and then
are unable to meet them, you will ultimately damage
rather than strengthen this relationship. In the end, it
would have been better if you had never made the
commitment in the first place. At least under this
circumstance, there wouldn’t have been any unfulfilled
expectations on the customer’s part.
Saying “no” when you should or need to say “no” can be
a very important ability to possess. It can help you
maintain your credibility and relationship with the
customer.
What was an example of when you over committed to
what you could do with a customer?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
(continued)

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

35

24. Don’t Over Commit (concluded)
What was the ultimate consequence of your over
commitment?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How could you have handled this situation differently?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
Would saying “no” have been a better overall strategy
for dealing with this situation? Why or why not?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can saying “no” be a better way for you to maintain
your relationship with your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

36

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

25
Do What You Say You Will Do
Your relationship with the customer must be based on
trust. A customer is placing a great deal of trust by
giving you their business. Don’t forsake this trust. A big
part of this trust is honoring your commitments to the
customer. If you said you were going to do something,
then do it! These commitments should be kept at any
cost—even if at your company’s expense. In the long
run, investing in building this trust with your customers
will pay dividends.
What are some recent commitments that you have
made to a customer or customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What did you have to do to meet these commitments?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What might have been the consequences for not
meeting these commitments?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What were the “paybacks” for doing what you said you
would do?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

37

26
Don’t Oversell
Like so many things in life, you can get too much of
even a “good thing.” This applies to selling. Obviously,
selling is essential to making sales. Not selling can be
disastrous because the customer is not educated about
what they are missing by not buying your product or
service. The goal needs to be to find just the right
balance between these two extremes.
Selling can be like medicine. Given in the proper dose
and measure, it can have a very beneficial effect. Overdosing on a medicine will not only take away its
beneficial aspects, it could also endanger the well-being
of the patient. Overselling can make the customer
suspicious, irritated, and begin to question the true
value of what you want them to buy. Sometimes “less is
better” when selling, and it helps you build a better
relationship with the customer.
When would “less be better” when dealing with your
customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
(continued)

38

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

26. Don’t Oversell (concluded)
What could be the consequence of overselling to your
customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How do you know when you might be overselling to your
customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can you avoid overselling in the future?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

39

Part 2
Problem Solving Together

27
Put Things into Perspective
for the Customer
There is an old saying, “Sometimes you can’t see the
forest for the trees.” Often, the clearest perspective is
seen from someone on the outside looking in. You can
be so close to a problem that you can’t objectively
evaluate it. As someone who is not officially part of the
organization and its reporting structure, you may have a
unique perspective of your customer’s operations. You
probably are very knowledgeable about the customer’s
company and its people and processes, and can provide
valuable insights that no one else has. You may be able
to put things into perspective for the customer better
than anyone else. This can provide an added and
unexpected benefit to your customer.
However, you need to take care to share this with the
customer in such a way that it will be most positively
received and not be detrimental to your relationship,
particularly if addressing sensitive topics to the customer.
What unique perspectives might you be able to provide
for your customers that they may not be able to see for
themselves?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What would be the best way to share this perspective
with the customer?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

43

28
Reduce Paperwork for the Customer
There is always a great deal of information you would
like to have from your customers. This information not
only helps you better serve the customer’s needs today,
but also in the future. Unfortunately, getting this information usually results in more paperwork for the
customer. For the sake of your relationship with the
customer, you must try to keep this paperwork to a
minimum. Think about how you feel when you are asked
to fill out form after form when you make certain
purchases. How happy does this make you? Undoubtedly, your customers feel the same way about filling out
paperwork to do business with you!
How much paperwork do your customers have to complete to do business with you?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can you reduce this paperwork for your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
44

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

29
Be a Contingency Thinker
Being a contingency thinker means always having
a back-up plan. You learn to think in terms of “what if?”
For example, say you have to send a large order to
a customer by a certain deadline. What are some
contingencies you would need to think about? You might
think about alternative ways of shipping the order to the
customer’s location. What if the normal way you send
orders is not available or can’t deliver on time? What
contingency plans do you have that could prevent this
situation from becoming a problem for the customer?
What are some contingencies that you should be thinking about to ensure that you continue to provide the
quality of service to your customer that they require?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What are your contingency plans to deal with these
situations?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

45

30
Be Creative
Sometimes it may seem like there is little opportunity to
be creative in business, particularly when it comes to
building a better relationship with customers. So often,
the standard and conventional methods or procedures
are expected. To deviate from these traditions would be
paramount to blasphemy!
Hogwash! Why not try something new or different when
dealing with your customers? Maybe this is just what
everyone needs to “wake up” and start getting excited
about their work again. Try a different approach and
break with conventional thinking. Do something that’s
never been done before. In other words, be creative.
You never know, you might just start a new trend that
will become a tradition as hard to break away from as
what is currently the norm!
What are some ways in which you could be more
creative in your job and the way you provide service or
products to your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

46

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

31
Don’t Follow the 80/20 Rule
with the Customer
According to the classic 80/20 rule, you probably spend
80 percent of your time with 20 percent of your customers. Presumably, the 20 percent of your customers
who take up this majority of your time are those who
require the most attention. But is this the most
appropriate way for you to allocate your time? If this is
true for you, do these 20 percent of your customers
represent 80 percent of your business? If not, is this
really fair to the other 80 percent of your customers
who give you the most of your business? Just because
these 80 percent of your customers don’t demand more
attention or require more service, are they less important than those who do? Actually, they deserve to get
the most of your attention, not the least.
Does the 80/20 rule apply to you concerning the
amount of time and attention you spend with your
customers?
If so, who are some of the customers you spend this
disproportionate amount of time with?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
(continued)
101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

47

31. Don’t Follow the 80/20 Rule
with the Customer (concluded)
What about the other 80 percent of your customers?
Are you focusing enough of your time with them?
If not, how can you better distribute the time and
attention you pay to your customers and avoid the
80/20 rule if it is not the best strategy for you to follow?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

48

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

32
Be Proactive
Being proactive means that you do things before
they have to be done. By being proactive, you stay on
top of matters and don’t let them get out of control.
Customers generally prefer doing business with a supplier who is proactive rather than one who is constantly
in a reactive mode. When you find yourself reacting to a
problem or situation with your customer, you can do
little more than “damage control.” Usually in a reactive
mode, you can expend a great deal of energy and not do
anything but avoid some catastrophe from occurring.
Being proactive usually requires much less time
and effort than waiting until you have to react to an
emergency situation. Being proactive also creates less
anxiety and tension for everyone, most importantly the
customer.
Think of a situation you have experienced when dealing
with a customer in which you found yourself in a
reactive mode. What did you have to do to deal with this
situation?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
(continued)

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

49

32. Be Proactive (concluded)
How could being proactive have prevented this situation
from becoming the problem it developed into?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How much less time and energy would being proactive
involve versus waiting until you found yourself reacting?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
Which would your customer(s) rather you be—reactive or
proactive? ________________________________________
How can you be more proactive with your customers in
the future?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

50

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

33
Prevent Problems Before They Occur
Which would your customers prefer?
A. The best service that could possibly be provided
when a problem occurs with a product or service they
purchased.
B. That the problem never occurred in the first place.
Obviously, the answer is B. Your customers would much
rather not have problems occur in the first place. This
is the best customer service that they could ever
experience. This is why, as the quality process teaches,
prevention must be our system for achieving quality.
How can you prevent future problems for your customers before they occur?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How could practicing this philosophy help build better
relationships with your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

51

34
Do Things Right the First Time
Another fundamental lesson from the quality process
teaches us the importance of “Doing things right the
first time.” Think about what this really means to your
customers. How much does it cost not only your customers but also your organization when things are not
done right the first time? Besides the financial expense
of having to do something over again, what about the
costs to your relationship with the customer? Perhaps
this is the greatest cost of all.
What are the customer relationship costs to you when
things are not done right the first time? List as many as
you can think of in the spaces below.
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How could doing things right in the first place prevent
some or all of these problems and the resulting expenses?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
52

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

35
Help Reduce Cycle Time for the Customer
Cycle time is how long it takes to complete a process.
Reducing cycle time increases productivity and efficiency. Any time you can reduce cycle time, you help
the customer save money. Too often, suppliers to
customers are focused only on their own cycle time, not
their customers’. They may worry more about how the
customer can improve their cycle time rather than the
other way around. For instance, you might look for ways
to reduce the cycle time it takes customers to place
their order or pay their bill within the billing cycle. While
these will always be important things to focus on, what
the customer is most interested in is how you can help
reduce the cycle times for their business.
What part do you play in your customers’ cycle times?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can you reduce your customers’ cycle times?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

53

36
Synergize with the Customer
Synergy results in the whole being greater than the
sum of the parts. In other words, synergy means that
when working with others, 5 + 5 = 11 or more. In this
example, 10 people working together can produce a
result greater than what they could accomplish working
independently. Synergy unleashes the talents, experiences, innovation, creativity, and resourcefulness of
everyone working together. Synergy is the key to
teamwork and achieving group goals. Synergy can be
one of the most powerful forces in your working
relationship with your customer. Through synergy, you
can achieve what neither you nor the customer could
ever accomplish working alone.
What are some opportunities to synergize with your
customer(s) that you may not be taking advantage
of today? In other words, what can you accomplish
together that you can’t independently?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

37
Reduce Your Company’s Bureaucracy
You may call it by many different names such as
policies, procedures, practices, processes, requirements, etc., but it all means the same thing to the
customer—a big hassle! Think about how you feel when
you must go through a number of procedural steps or fill
out countless forms to get something accomplished.
You need to try to find ways to reduce the levels of
bureaucracy and “red tape” that a customer must
contend with to do business with you.
What unnecessary bureaucracy do your customers have
to put up with to do business with you?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How might these be eliminated?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
If these hassles can’t be eliminated, what can you do to
make them less of a burden to the customer?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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38
Bend the Rules for the Customer
There is an old saying, which is particularly popular
among young people: “Rules are meant to be broken.”
Although this would not be a very good philosophy of life
to follow consistently, it may be prudent at times when
dealing with your customers, particularly if it pertains
to rules that customers have to follow to do business
with you.
Are there rules that your organization may have that
make it more difficult to serve your customers? Does
following these rules to the letter of the law actually
cause you problems in your relationships with the customers? Are there rules that you could either get an
exception to or even ignore without negative consequences? If so, then this might be a good example of
when “rules should be broken.”
You may need to explain the circumstances and reason
that you are bending the rules just for them. Undoubtedly, your customers will appreciate this extra service
you are providing. Everyone needs to get a break once
in awhile!
What are some rules in your organization that you could
or even should bend a little to provide better service to
your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

39
Be a Problem Solver
One way to be of service to the customer is to help them
solve their problems. In doing this, it is important that
you be part of the solution to the problem, not part of
the cause. Sometimes because you are not part of
the customer’s organization, you are in a better position
to find these solutions and get them implemented. In
order for problem solving to occur, it is helpful to use
some kind of model that leads you step-by-step to the
solution. The following model is designed to help you
accomplish this goal:
Step 1. Work together with the customer to identify the
problem. Often, this can be the most difficult
step. Unless you correctly identify what the
problem really is, it will be virtually impossible
to find its solution. Sometimes, as an outsider,
you may be able to identify problems better
than the customer.
Step 2. Find the root cause of the problem. This
may not always be what you or the customer
first assume is the cause. Often you need to
dig deeper into the problem to find the real
root cause.
(continued)

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

57

39. Be a Problem Solver (concluded)
Step 3. Search for possible solutions to the problem.
Get as many opinions as you can. Tap into
the experience and knowledge of the customer’s employees, other suppliers, even their
customers.
Step 4. Select the most appropriate solution or course
of action to take. Once again, the more people
you involve in this step of the process, the
better the results you can achieve.
Step 5. Follow up with the customer to ensure that
you have taken the best possible actions to
eliminate this problem and prevent it from
reoccurring in the future.

58

101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

40
Refer the Customer to Other Sources
Your most important goal needs to be to provide
the best possible service to your customer. You need
to achieve this goal regardless of who provides this
service—even if it is someone else. Perhaps the best
way to build a stronger relationship with your customer
is to refer them to other sources that may be better able
to meet their needs. Ultimately, the customer’s
requirements will be best met in this way. This needs to
be your first and foremost priority. Ultimately, your
relationship with the customer will be strengthened
rather than weakened.
Have there been times when you should have referred
the customer to another supplier who could have
offered more appropriate service that would have met
the customer’s needs better than you could have?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
(continued)

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59

40. Refer the Customer to Other Sources
(concluded)
What do you think would be the consequences of
doing this?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How do you think referring a customer to someone else
who could better serve their needs could help your relationship with them?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
Which do you think would ultimately be best for both
you and the customer?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

41
Look for Other Possibilities
Sometimes to provide the best service to a customer,
you need to look for alternative solutions than are
typically available. In other words, you need to be a
“possibilities thinker.”
A possibilities thinker always looks for other alternatives. If one door becomes closed or locked, then
he/she searches for another possibility. Possibility
thinkers don’t give up easily. Nor are they ever truly
defeated. There is always some other new possibility to
explore—something else that might work better.
What might be some example of other possibilities that
you could suggest to your customers that you might not
have normally considered?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How might these other possibilities help you continue to
provide the quality of products/service your customers
expect from you?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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42
Roll with the Punches
There is an old saying, “You’ve got to roll with the
punches.” What this means to you in business is that
there are always going to be challenges and problems,
and you can’t let these get you down. Instead, you need
to be flexible enough to do your best to adapt to these
events. If not, you will be defeated by them.
In dealing with a customer, there are always going to be
problems that you will have to face. You must deal with
these problems and keep trying to meet your objective
of providing the highest quality service or product to the
customer that you possibly can.
What are some of the “punches” you might have to deal
with as you work with your customers? List these in the
left-hand column. In the right-hand column, list how you
can “roll” with each of these problems.
Punches
_______________________

Rolling with the punches
_______________________

_______________________

_______________________

_______________________

_______________________

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101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

Part 3
Communicating
with the Customer

43
Learn the Customer’s Language
Every organization has their own language, so to speak.
They have many acronyms, abbreviations, or short-hand
ways of describing that which is part of their unique
company culture. For example, try to translate the
following message that is expressed in a particular
customer’s company language.
A VMX and e-mail was sent from HQ to all
N. A. R & D, field, production, distribution, and
satellite sites about 1st -quarter P & L report. CEO
and Board want costs down, ROI & ROC up, and to
be back on track on plan by 4th quarter.
Translation: A message was sent from the company’s
headquarters via the voice mail telephone system
and electronic mail to all research and development
facilities, manufacturing locations, distribution centers,
and smaller facilities supported by other company
facilities throughout North America. The Chief Executive
Officer and the corporation’s Board of Directors are
requesting that a cost reduction program be begun to
increase both the return on investment and return on
capital financial performance measures to meet the
year-end goals established in the company’s strategic
business plan.
(continued)

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65

43. Learn the Customer’s Language (concluded)
What are some of the words, acronyms, symbols, slang,
abbreviations, etc., that you must learn in order to
speak your customer’s language?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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44
Keep the Customer in Your Company’s
Communications Loop
As quickly as things change in an organization, it is
easy to be “out of touch” with what is going on. Your
customers have an interest in what is happening in your
company, particularly as it might directly or indirectly
affect them. They appreciate hearing information about
changes in your company and organization. Part of
maintaining a good relationship with your customers is
keeping them in your “communications loop” about
what is happening in your company on a regular basis.
What are some ways you can keep your customers in
your company’s communications loop?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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45
Have the Top Executives
in Your Company Meet the Customer
There is nothing like going straight to the top to make
the greatest impression on someone. People appreciate
meeting important and accomplished individuals, particularly the top executives of your company. It is an
honor and a privilege to meet this caliber of person
and doing so can often have a long-lasting impact on a
person. Having your top executives or owners meet your
customers is a way of saying how important they are
to your company. It also gives the top people in your
company a greater awareness and appreciation of
who your customers are and how their needs can be
better served.
How can you arrange for the top executives or owners of
your company to meet with your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What would you hope to accomplish by this meeting?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How could this help your relationship with your
customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

46
Don’t Fill the Customer’s
Voice Mail–Box with Messages
“Hello, it’s me again. Sorry to keep leaving messages on
your answering machine, but I just thought of something else I needed to tell you.” Does this sound like the
telephone messages that your customers receive from
you? If you have ever experienced multiple messages
from the same person on your answering machine
or voice mail–box, you know how irritating this can be.
This causes the customer receiving these messages a
number of difficulties. First, because the messages are
heard by the receiver one at a time, usually in the order
in which they are received, it can be like investigating
clues in a cheap paperback murder mystery! You get
important information in bits and pieces and have to
put them together into some kind of logical manner.
Second, there is a limited amount of storage space
available on their voice mail–box or answering machine.
If you fill it with all of your messages, there won’t be any
room for anyone else’s. This probably won’t make the
customer very happy. An third, it can be very tedious to
listen to long messages that don’t seem to ever make
their point.
To avoid having to leave multiple or lengthy messages on
your customer’s voice mail–box or answering machine, use
the following message organizer:
(continued)

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69

46. Don’t Fill the Customer’s Voice Mail–
Mail–Box
with Messages (concluded)
Telephone Message Organizer
Before leaving a message or messages on a customer’s
telephone voice mail–box or answering machine, answer
the following questions to help you more effectively and
efficiently communicate this information.
A. What are the most important points you want to
make in your message?
1) _____________________________________________
2) _____________________________________________
3) _____________________________________________
B. Is there any related information that you need to
communicate to the customer that you should include
or reference in this message?
_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________
_______________________________________________
C. Practice the 2-Minute Challenge:
Practice sending this message to yourself in 2 minutes or less. If you can’t say everything in less than
2 minutes, go back to steps A and B and make your
message more concise and to the point. If this is not
possible, consider sending the message via some
other means such as a “live” telephone conversation, face-to-face meeting, conference call, video
conference, letter, e-mail, etc.
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47
Don’t Call the Customer on
Their First Day Back from Vacation
No matter how important it is for you to talk to the
customer, avoid the temptation of calling him/her on
their first day back at work from vacation. Even if you
have listened to the customer’s message on their
answering machine every day for two weeks telling you
that they will be back in the office on the 22nd, wait at
least until the 23rd or 24th to call. Why? Think about
what it is like the first day back at work from vacation:
Does the word chaos come to mind? There is probably
no way that you are really going to be able to get the
customer’s full attention that day—so don’t even try.
Ultimately, no matter how urgent it is to talk to the
customer, you will be better off waiting just a few more
days to call. The customer will appreciate the extra time
to get caught up and be more responsive to your call.
The only reason to call a customer on their first day
back from vacation is if you were specifically instructed
to do so by them, which is highly unlikely!
Have you ever called a customer or someone else on
their first day back from vacation? If so, how receptive
was this person to your call? ________________________
Were you able to accomplish as much with this call as
you had hoped? ___________________________________
(continued)

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47. Don’t Call the Customer on Their
First Day Back from Vacation (concluded)
How much more productive might this call have been if
you had waited a day or two?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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48
Don’t Put the Customer On Hold
How does it make you feel when someone keeps putting
you on hold during a telephone conversation? Does
it make you feel that there is someone or something
more important than you that the other person is more
concerned about? Is this the impression or message
you really want to send to your customers?
You can put the customer on hold in other ways as well.
You can allow delays or interruptions to virtually put
service to your customer on hold. In either case, the
customer will become impatient waiting for you to get
back to them instead of giving them your undivided
attention, which they want and deserve.
In what ways might you be putting your customers
on hold?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can you avoid putting customers on hold in these
ways in the future?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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49
Get on the Customer’s Mailing List
It is always good to know what is going on within your
customer’s organization. Personnel changes, moves,
reorganizations, changes in strategic focus, and the like
frequently occur, which could impact your relationship
with the customer. An excellent way to keep abreast
of these changes is to receive the publications and
mailings that the customer sends to their employees
and customers. Typically this includes the company’s
newsletter, product literature, annual reports, and other
public documents intended to be shared outside the
organization. These are usually obtained simply by
asking for them. By receiving this information, not only
will you be better able to keep informed about what is
going on within their organization, but will demonstrate
to the customer your interest in their company.
What are some of the types of information that your
customers may publish that would be useful for you to
receive?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
(continued)

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49. Get on the Customer’s Mailing List
(concluded)
How can you get on your customer’s mailing list to
regularly receive this information?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can this information be used to help you build a
stronger working relationship with your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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75

50
Keep Confidential Information
Confidential
It has been said that “if more than one person knows
something, then it is no longer confidential!” What this
implies is that the person who hears the confidential
information will inevitably tell someone else, who will in
turn tell someone else, and so on. Everyone seems to
have at least someone else they trust enough to tell
even the most confidential information. This process
will be repeated until the confidential information
becomes common knowledge and is no secret anymore.
Sometimes it seems that the more confidential the
information, the more tempting it is for someone to
tell it to someone else. Perhaps the most likely way
to ensure that information will be quickly spread
throughout the organization is to say that it is highly
confidential!
However, in the course of doing business with your
customer, you may often become aware of highly confidential information. Perhaps you may become aware of
things that not even the customer’s own employees
don’t know. You need to honor even the strictest
of confidentiality requirements requested from the
customer. There may also be legal implications to this
confidentiality requirement, and you may be required to
sign an agreement stating that you will not divulge
(continued)

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50. Keep Confidential Information Confidential
(concluded)
any information you learn about the customer to anyone
else, particularly their competitors. This can be particularly important in those situations when you may also
do business with the customer’s competitors.
How can you assure your customer that you will honor
any confidential information that they may entrust
in you?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can your customers’ confidence and trust in you
to keep information confidential help strengthen your
business relationship?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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77

51
Really Listen to the Customer
Listening to what someone has to say can be one of
the most difficult and challenging aspects of communications. There are just so many things that can
interfere with really hearing what the customer is trying
to say. One of these obstacles might be our own
expectations of what we want the customer to say. In
other words, you hear what you expect to hear, not
necessarily what the customer really meant. This can
cause serious relationship problems between you and
your customers. There can be huge differences between
what your customers said, what they meant, and
what you heard. The following is an example of the
Said-Meant-Heard phenomenon that often occurs when
communicating with customers:

What the customer said:
We don’t have the money in our budget to buy from you
at this time.

What the customer meant:
Your price is too high. You need to find a way to provide
your product/service at a lower price or some other
creative way to meet our price objectives.

What was heard:
There is nothing that can be done to change this situation once the customer’s budget has been set. The
sale is lost.
(continued)
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101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

51. Really Listen to the Customer
Customer (concluded)
What are some examples you may have experienced
with your customers concerning Said-Meant-Heard?
What the customer said:
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What the customer meant:
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What was heard:
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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52
Always Be a Page Away
With the availability and popularity of electronic pagers
or other similar devices today, there really is no reason
for you to ever be out of touch with the customer. For a
relatively inexpensive price, you can make yourself
completely accessible to the customer, 24 hours a day,
7 days a week, virtually anyplace in the world. Although
this may not be necessary in every customer situation
or relationship, it may be very important in other circumstances. Pagers today come in a wide variety of sizes,
shapes, and functions to meet whatever communications needs you may have with your customers. Being
able to respond immediately to your customer’s needs
via your pager or cell phone, personal digital assistant
(PDA), etc., could be one of the most important services
you can provide.
How accessible are you presently to your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How could being more accessible to your customers
help your business relationship and allow you to provide
better service to them?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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101 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Your Customers

53
Be Computer Compatible
When communicating with your customers, you need
to speak the same language—the same computer
language that is. You need to be able to readily transfer
information to and from the customer via your computer
system. To do this, you need to make sure that your
computers can “talk” to one another through e-mail or
other means, and that information can quickly and
easily be transmitted between your systems.
The Internet today offers potentially unlimited possibilities for communications and data transfer. You need
to take full advantage of these new capabilities when
dealing with customers. However, with technology, software, and computer equipment rapidly changing today,
this is not always an easy thing to do. No sooner do you
install the most current and sophisticated equipment
available then something else more powerful hits the
market. Although you may never be able to always keep
up with the latest technology, you do need to stay up-todate with your customer’s current computer capability.
How compatible are you with your customer’s system?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
(continued)

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81

53. Be Computer Compatible (concluded)
Do you experience any problems sending or receiving
information via your computer with your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
If so, how can you become more computer compatible
with your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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54
Provide a “Safe Ear” for the Customer
Everyone needs someone they can talk to and share
their problems and concerns with. Finding a “safe ear”
to talk to isn’t always easy. A safe ear is someone you
can trust to tell things to, and you know that it will not
go any farther and that this trust won’t be broken.
Sometimes because you are not part of their organization and reporting structure, the customer might feel
most comfortable talking to you about certain things or
problems. Playing this role for your customer can be one
of the most important things you can do to support your
working relationship.
Have you ever been a safe ear for one of your customers in this way? How did this affect your relationship
with your customer?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can you be a safe ear for your customers in the
future?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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55
Give Feedback to the Customer
Feedback is information that helps you perform better
in the future. Unfortunately, you don’t always get feedback when you need it. The right people need to give
you feedback—those who are most knowledgeable
about your performance. You may be in an excellent
position to be able to give your customers knowledgeable feedback about their performance. As a supplier to
your customers, you may see a perspective in their
performance and organization that no one else sees.
However, for feedback to be useful, those receiving it
must be receptive to hearing this information. How
feedback is presented can have a great effect on how it
is received.
What type of feedback could you give the customer that
could help them better serve their customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
(continued)
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55. Give Feedback to the Customer (concluded)
How receptive do you think your customers will be to
receiving this feedback?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How could you help the customer be more receptive to
this feedback?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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56
Don’t Spread Rumors About the Customer
Why is it that everyone loves a rumor so much? In any
organization, there are typically more rumors floating
around than anyone could ever even begin to chase
down. Who starts these rumors is anyone’s guess and
how accurate they are greatly varies.
However, like the old saying, “there’s a little truth in
every rumor,” you may find that some of these rumors
being spread around turn out to be true. But just how
true are they? How accurate are rumors? Just how little
truth is there really in the latest rumor you heard about
your customer? The answer is probably very little. This is
why you shouldn’t totally believe every rumor you hear
or spread rumors around about your customers. Do you
really want to be associated with spreading inaccurate
and even sometimes malicious information about your
customers? What effect do you think that would have on
your relationships with your customers?
What is an example of a rumor about a customer that if
attributed to you spreading it around could negatively
affect your business relationship?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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57
Don’t Let the Customer See You Sweat
It may not always be good business to let the customer
know everything you need to do in order to provide the
quality of service or product to them that they expect.
This might be contrary to what your instincts tell you.
After all, wouldn’t you naturally want the customer to
know all the efforts you must put forth to provide a
quality service or product?
However, do you really want the customer to know
all the problems you might encounter along the way?
Do you really want them to know all the “close calls” you
might have experienced that could have interfered with
your ability to supply them the level of quality they have
learned to expect and receive from you? Just maybe this
is a little more information than the customer really
needs to know. Maybe it is better if they don’t know how
close they came to not receiving your usual high quality
of service or product. If all they ever see is what turned
out right, do they need to know all the problems that
occurred getting to this successful end? Do they really
want to know? Sometimes it is better to spare the
customer all the gory details and just share in their
satisfaction of receiving exactly what they ordered.
Ultimately, they will have more confidence in you and in
continuing to do business together.
(continued)

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87

57. Don’t Let the Customer See You Sweat
(concluded)
What might be some details that would be better that
the customer doesn’t see you “sweat” about?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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58
Admit Your Mistakes
Nobody is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes at
times. Certainly it is important that you do everything
you can to minimize the frequency or severity of
mistakes. Customers expect this of you as they should.
But your actions after you do make a mistake can be
as important as avoiding mistakes in the first place. Of
course, trying to cover up mistakes will only make
matters worse.
The best thing that you can do when you do make a
mistake is to admit it to the customer and immediately
take action to correct the situation. The customer will
respect your honesty and accept the fact that even you
can make a mistake once in awhile. You also then need
to reassure the customer that you have taken steps to
prevent this same mistake from reoccurring in the
future.
What is the worst thing that could happen to you by
admitting you made a mistake to the customer?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
(continued)

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58. Admit
Admit Your Mistakes (concluded)
What is the best thing that could happen to you by
admitting your mistake to the customer?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What is the benefit to both you and the customer of
admitting your mistakes and committing to prevent
them from reoccurring in the future?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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59
Don’t Burden the Customer
with Your Problems
Sometimes customers can seem like old friends, and
oftentimes they are. Friends share things with each
other about their lives, including their problems and
complaints. Even in these friendships with customers,
you still must keep in mind that this is a business
relationship as well. Complaining about all your problems to the customer, particularly about your employer,
may not be the best way to build a better business
relationship. The customer may only be sympathetic up
to a certain point and tire of hearing about your
problems. The customer might even decide that they no
longer want to do business with an organization with so
many problems. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!
Do you burden your customer with too many of your
problems? What might be some indications that you
might be guilty of doing this?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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60
Don’t B.S. the Customer
Of course B.S. stands for “blue sky.” Did you think it
stood for something else? Actually the idea of blue sky
and what the meaning of B.S. is typically thought of are
the same thing. It is based on the perception that there
are salespersons who will describe the sky as being
even bluer than it actually appears. Blue sky in this case
means to exaggerate the value, significance, or importance of something to the customer in order to make a
sale. Although this technique may achieve some shortterm objectives, it ultimately comes back to you!
It can destroy your credibility and ultimately your relationship with the customer. Don’t B.S. the customer in
any way.
By the way, what did you think B.S. stood for?
What might be an example of B.S.ing the customer that
you should always avoid?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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61
Keep Good Records
Records are what are left after your business is
completed. Records provide a database and historical perspective of the past. Often this information
is needed to make important decisions that can
significantly impact the future. Keeping good records
that are accurate, verifiable, and easily retrievable can
be a very valuable service you can provide for your
customers. It saves them from having to duplicate these
same efforts. It also allows you to provide a unique
service to the customer that no one else can. By
maintaining a database of all pertinent information concerning your business with the customer, you can add
value and help strengthen your business relationship
with the customer.
What are examples of records that you have access to
concerning your business with your customers that
could potentially be helpful to them?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
(continued)

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61. Keep Good Records (concluded)
How can you help your customer use this information?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can you ensure that this information is or continues to be available to your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can your customer data record keeping be
improved and be of more value to both of you?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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62
Don’t Become a Nuisance to the Customer
When dealing with a customer, you should be responsive,
informative, proactive, courteous, sharing, helpful, resourceful, professional, obliging, articulate, earnest, trustworthy,
fair, competent, friendly, ambitious, sincere, realistic, correct,
accurate, humble, caring, empathetic, patient, principled,
polite, progressive, diligent, hard working, committed,
reassuring, convincing, quality minded, detailed, innovative,
tireless, caring, capable, nice, initiating, wise, open, kind,
helpful, imaginative, reasonable, stable, zealous, just,
precise, worthy, unique, versatile, keen, likable, optimistic,
quick, sensitive, lively, extraordinary, memorable, responsible, consistent, neat, rational, organized, or valued—but
never become a NUISANCE!
Becoming a nuisance to a customer is probably the
worst thing you can do concerning your working
relationship. This means that what the customer would
really like to do is get rid of you. This is similar to how
you feel about a fly showing up at your picnic! Is this
really how you want your customers to feel about you?
Make sure that you avoid becoming a nuisance to your
customers at all costs. If you think you see or hear a
customer reaching for a fly swatter the next time you
contact him/her, maybe it is time to back off just a little
bit! Remember that different customers have different
expectations and requirements concerning how you
(continued)

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95

62. Don’t Become a Nuisance to the Customer
(concluded)
interact with them. Some may want to hear from you all
the time and others practically not at all. You need to be
able to distinguish these differences in your customers’
expectations of you.
Are you in danger of becoming a nuisance to any of
your customers? If so, what can you do to correct this
situation and still accomplish what you need to with the
customer?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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63
Understand When “No” Means “No”
Part of not becoming a nuisance to the customer is
understanding when “no” means “no.” This can be very
difficult for many salespersons. After all, most sales
training typically includes lessons on not accepting the
first “no” from the customer. Instead, you may have
been taught to consider a “no” as nothing more than an
indication that the customer has not received enough
information to make a purchase decision.
Although this may indeed be an effective sales technique that can bring in sales that would have otherwise
been lost, there comes a point when you need to take
the customer at their word and understand that “no”
really means “no.” Pursuing the sale after this point
will only negatively affect your relationship with the
customer.
Even though you may not make the sale, there may still
be something to gain by accepting the customer’s “no.”
For instance, you might ask for feedback from the
customer concerning his or her reasons for this decision
that might help you make future sales. Or you might
simply strengthen your relationship with the customer
by accepting “no”—this may be something of even, or
possibly more, value.
(continued)

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63. Understand When “No” means “No”
(concluded)
List below on the appropriate lines those circumstances
when you should not accept at least the first “no” from
the customer and when you should accept “no” from the
customer.
When not to accept “no” from the customer:
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
When to accept “no” from the customer:
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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64
Link Electronically to the Customer
In our electronic age today, there are so many ways
for you to link up with the customer. The personal
computer provides virtually limitless possibilities for
you to become linked electronically with your customers.
This includes e-mail, the Internet, faxes, personal data
assistants (PDAs), electronic calendars, and other future
possibilities not even yet imagined.
You must use all these new electronic communications
tools to stay linked to the customer. These allow you to
stay closer to the customer’s needs and to be better
able to provide the quality of service your customers
want and deserve.

Your Electronic Communications Inventory
Check which of these electronic communications tools
you are presently using to stay more closely linked with
your customers:
____ E-mail

____ Fax

____ Internet

____ Intranet

____ Pager

____ PDA

____ Voice mail

____ Teleconferences

____ Web site

____ Cell phone

____ Laptop PC

____ Others?
________________________
________________________
(continued)

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64. Link Electronically
Electronically to the Customer
(concluded)
How could you better use these communications tools
to help you meet the requirements of your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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Part 4
Understanding
the Customer

65
Be a “Constant” During Change
Changes in your customer’s organization can mean
change for you as well. Therefore, it is important to stay
aware of these changes as they occur and find out how
they may affect you. The more you understand about
these changes in customers’ organizations, the better
able you will be to maintain your business relationship
with those who may now be making decisions that
directly affect you.
Periods of change in a customer’s organization can be
one of the most important times to focus on your
relationship with them. In fact, you may be one of the
last things that doesn’t change. You may be the only
“constant” that was not eliminated or changed. In this
role, you can do a great deal to help the new players
in the organization move toward their own goals
and objectives. These changes may also provide new
opportunities to be of service to the customer.
How can you be the “constant” that stays the same
during changes in your organization?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can your continued relationship with the customer
help them adapt to changes in their own organization?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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66
Read the Customer’s Annual Report
A company’s annual report contains important information about who and what they are today and hope
to be in the future. You can learn a great deal about
your customer by reading their annual report. This
wealth of information can help you not only gain a
better understanding of the customer’s business and
operations but also how you might position yourself to
be part of their future. The company will also be
impressed that you took this interest in learning more
about their company. Annual reports can usually be
obtained simply by requesting one or by buying stock
in your customer’s company—also another good investment to make!
Do you have a copy of your customer’s annual report?
__________________________________________________
Now, the really tough question—have you read it? _____
How can you use the information you learned in the
customer’s annual report to provide them with better
service, not only today but also in the future?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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67
Study the Customer’s History
The past is rich with lessons that teach us how to be
successful in the future. By studying history, we can
learn from both the mistakes and successes of those
who have lived before us. A company’s history is an
important part of its tradition. Most companies are very
proud of their history and are pleased to share
it with others. They see their past as an important key
to understanding who they are today. It is important
to learn about your customer’s history to gain this
perspective and understanding. By learning about their
past, the customer will feel that you will be better able
to serve their needs not only today, but in the future.
Have you studied your customer’s history? If not, how
can you learn more about it?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What do you see as the benefits to both you and the
customer from learning more about their history?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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68
Ask the Customer if it is a
Good Time to Call
Sometimes you might contact a customer or prospective
one at a bad time. The customer may indeed be interested in talking with you, but just has other more
pressing business to attend to at the time. Pursuing the
contract at this particular time may only serve to irritate
the customer. Instead of returning your call at a more
opportune time, the customer may lose their patience
and interest in talking with you.
Everyone, including your customers, is very busy these
days at work. When contacting a customer, it is a good
idea to ask if it is a good time for them to talk or not.
The customer will appreciate your consideration for
their time and hopefully respect yours as well.
Think of a situation when you tried to contact a customer at a time not convenient for them. What was the
result?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How could this contact have been more productive if
you had asked if it was a good time or not for the
customer?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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69
Take the Customer to Lunch
There truly may be no such thing as a free lunch, but
this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pick up the tab when
you are dining with a customer. The lunch may be free
to the customer, but pays dividends to you. Often,
inviting a customer to lunch is a good way to get to
know each other in a more relaxed environment. This
can be important to better understanding the customer’s needs and requirements. It also helps you build
a better relationship together. Find opportunities to take
the customer to lunch or some other more relaxed
setting to work on strengthening your relationship.
What opportunities do you have to invite the customer
to lunch or some other more relaxed atmosphere to get
to know each other better?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How could this help build a better relationship with your
customer?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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70
Keep the Customer’s Priorities in Mind
Your priorities are what are most important to you.
Priorities can be unique and individualized. Obviously,
priorities are important, particularly to the person who
sets them. Your customer’s priorities should also be
important to you. Helping your customers meet their
priorities should be a top priority of yours. However, to
accomplish this goal, you must first understand what
your customer’s top priorities are.
What are your customer’s top priorities?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
If you don’t know your customer’s priorities, how can
you find out what they are?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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71
Stay “In Tune” with
the Customer’s Business
There are many ways for you to keep informed about
your customer’s business. There are industry publications that provide current information and market
trends. In addition, business magazines, newspapers,
and periodicals provide general information and market
conditions. The Internet can also provide a wealth of
information about your customer’s business. This
information can be critical to helping you provide the
quality of service the customer wants and expects. By
being aware of what is currently happening in their
business, you can be better prepared to make any
necessary changes to ensure that the requirements of
your customer are still being met. The customer will be
impressed by your making the effort to stay informed
about what is happening in their business and have
more confidence in your ability to serve them.
What are some of the sources you can use to stay
informed about what is going on in your customer’s
business?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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72
Empathize with the Customer
To have empathy means to try to understand how
another person feels about something. It doesn’t mean
that you necessarily agree, just that you understand. It
is important to empathize with the customer on certain
things that may be of great concern to him or her. This
may involve something about which you do not agree
with the customer. At the very least, you need to try to
gain a better understanding about why the customer
feels the way he or she does. Sometimes this greater
level of understanding can be important in helping
find solutions to problems. And the customer will
appreciate that you took the time and effort to really
understand their point of view. This is what builds better
relationships.
What is an example of an empathy opportunity you may
currently have with a customer?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What would be some of the possible advantages or
gains that might be realized by empathizing with your
customer?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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73
Feel the Customer’s Pain
There is an old saying, “You need to feel the other
person’s pain” to really understand him or her. In many
ways, this is especially true when it comes to dealing
with the customer. You need to be just as concerned
about your customer’s problems as they are.
Their problems need to be your problems. Most importantly, you need to be just as motivated as the customer
to find solutions to these problems.
In what ways can you “feel the customer’s pain”?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
In what ways can you help stop your customer’s pain?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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74
Understand the Customer’s Requirements
The quality process has taught us the importance of
meeting the customer’s requirements to keep their
business. However, in order to meet the customer’s
requirements, you must first understand what they are.
You may think you know what the customer’s requirements are, but do you really? Misunderstanding the
customer’s requirements results in more lost sales than
any other reason.
To find out if you really do understand what the customer’s requirements are, try this simple exercise. First
write down what you believe to be the customer’s
requirements. Next ask the customer what they perceive
their requirements to be. Compare these two descriptions
and see if there are any discrepancies between these two
lists. If there are differences between your understanding
and your customer’s understanding of their requirements, then these gaps must be addressed as quickly
as possible.
(continued)

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74. Understand the Customer’s Requirements
(concluded)
What do you think are the customer’s requirements?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What does the customer say are their requirements?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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75
Consider the Customer’s Perspective
Two people can see or hear something and come away
with two very different experiences and perspectives.
One’s perspective can have a very dramatic effect
on how they feel about something. Have you ever
considered what your customer’s perspective might
be about buying from you? Is it possible that their
perspective might be different than yours? Absolutely.
It is important to consider what your customer’s
perspective might be. There are a number of ways in
which you can gain this better understanding using
either a direct or indirect approach.

Direct Approach
Ask the customer what their current perspective is
concerning buying your company’s product or service. In
other words, how do they presently feel about doing
business with you?

Indirect Approach
Project yourself into the customer’s position. In other
words, “walk a mile in their shoes.” If you were the
customer, how would you feel about the quality of
service or the product you receive from your company?
(continued)

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75. Consider the Customer’s Perspective
(concluded)
Which approach do you think works best for you to gain
the customer’s perspective?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can you get a better perspective of how the customer feels about doing business with you?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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76
Anticipate the Customer’s Needs
Anticipating the customer’s needs is part of providing
excellent service that really builds a stronger relationship. This shows the customer that you are thinking
ahead in a proactive manner in order to prevent problems. Sometimes you may be in a position to anticipate
a customer’s needs before they are even aware that the
needs exist. For instance, you may be aware, before the
customer is, of an upcoming change that could affect
the customer’s business. Or you may be able to warn
the customer about a shift in markets or demand that’s
coming and help them prepare for it. It might even
be something that is about to happen within your
own organization that you could forewarn the customer about.
What might be a change that will affect your customer’s
needs that you can anticipate and warn them about?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can your product or service help them deal with
these changes that you foresee?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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Part 5
Supporting the Customer

77
Give the Customer the
Benefit of the Doubt
Everyone needs to get a break at least once in awhile.
Nobody’s perfect or can do everything right all the time.
And sometimes things aren’t always as they appear to
be. Something might appear to be one thing, but in
reality be very different. This is particularly true when it
comes to your relationship with your customer. Give
your customer the benefit of the doubt. Don’t jump to
the wrong conclusion when dealing with the customer.
Keep an open mind about your customer and their
actions. Why not assume the positive rather than the
negative about the customer? Which would be a better
way to maintain a more positive relationship with your
customer? Go ahead; give ’em a break—they deserve it!
What is an example of when you may have had
an opportunity to give your customer the benefit of
the doubt?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How did giving the customer the benefit of the doubt
result?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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78
Avoid Conflicts of Interest
A conflict of interest with a customer might involve
you doing something that could be counter-productive
to their business but advantageous to you. This could
involve their competitors, other business interests
of yours, or even your personal interests. Regardless, it
is obviously best to avoid any conflict of interest that
could exist between you and your customers. If you are
not sure if something might be a possible conflict of
interest, you should discuss this with the customer to
understand how they may feel about it. You may even
be able to prevent something from becoming a conflict
of interest by finding out if it is or not beforehand with
the customer.
What might be some possible conflicts of interest with
your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How might these be prevented or eliminated?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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79
Keep the Customer’s Logo
in Your Computer
A company’s logo is an important aspect of their
identity. Your customers are justifiably proud of their
company logo and like to see it appear in as many
places as possible. With all the technology available
today, it is relatively easy to have your customer’s
company logo loaded into your computer so that you
can easily reproduce it. There will be many occasions
when this can be very useful to both you and the
customer. Being able to reprint their logo will make
you seem more a part of your customer’s team and
committed to providing them service.
One word of caution—make sure that you accurately
reproduce the customer’s logo. Size, color, scale, etc.,
are all critically important in company logos. You need
to make sure that you have the most current version
of their logo, as companies sometimes have a tendency
to make changes in logos from time to time. Check
with your customer to make sure that you are correctly reproducing their logo and have their permission
to do so.
(continued)

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79. Keep the Customer’s Logo
in Your Computer (concluded)
If you do not already have your customer’s logo in your
computer, how can you have it loaded into your computer so that it can be readily and easily reproduced?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can you ensure that you have your customer’s most
current approved logo?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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80
Talk Nicely About the Customer
Word gets around, and what you say about your customer will very likely get back to them. Keeping this
in mind, it is a smart idea to say good things about
your customers to others. Going around “bad mouthing”
your customer may allow you to vent some of your
frustrations about working with them. But it also may
seriously damage your relationship with them as well.
Think about how you would feel if someone who you
were giving your business to went around saying nasty
things about you. Would you continue doing business
with them?
How do you talk about your customers to others? The
following quick test can immediately tell you if you are
saying anything inappropriate about your customers to
others.

Test
If your customer heard what you say about them to
other people, would this strengthen or weaken your
work relationship?
__________________________________________________
(continued)

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80. Talk Nicely About the Customer (concluded)
Answers
Obviously if you answered “strengthen,” then there
is nothing inappropriate about what you go around
saying about your customer. On the other hand, if you
answered “weaken,” then you need to reevaluate what
you say about your customers to others.
How did you do on this test?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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81
Join the Customer’s Team
No, this doesn’t mean you should apply for employment
at your customer’s company. Rather, it means that you
need to just think of yourself as part of your customer’s
team. Team members support one another as they
strive to reach their shared goals for success. Sometimes team members perform tasks that enable other
members to be better able to do their jobs. Other times,
players “carry the ball” themselves with the support of
their teammates. Ultimately, what is most important is
how the team performs as a whole. Even the greatest
individual performance is diminished if the team itself
is not successful. It is the team that is most important
in sports as well as in your relationship with your
customers.
How can you become more a part of your customer’s
team?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
(continued)

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81. Join the Customer’s Team (concluded)
What role/position can you play on your customer’s team?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What contributions can you make to the customer’s team
effort?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What results can you help your customer’s team achieve?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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82
Collaborate with the Customer
To collaborate means to work together toward shared
goals. Collaboration is the optimum business relationship.
Collaboration creates opportunities for many desirable
things to occur. By collaborating with your customer, you
not only can reach goals that neither of you could alone,
but you can also form alliances that provide many other
benefits. This can lead to future collaborative efforts.
You need to look for collaborative opportunities with
your customer. The benefits may be more than you may
immediately realize.
What are some collaborative opportunities you may
have with your customers that you may not be presently
taking full advantage of?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What might be some of the advantages of collaborating
with your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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83
Help the Customer Accept Change
As the old saying goes: “The only constant in this
world is change.” Perhaps the most important skill
that someone can have is the ability to accept change.
You may be able to help the customer adapt to changes
that are occurring in their business. There may be
changes that you need to initiate that also potentially
can be very upsetting to your customers. Products,
services, markets, pricing, and many other aspects of
your business will constantly be changing or fluctuating
as you do business together. Your customers will appreciate any efforts you make that will help them adjust to
the new things to come.
You can help your customers accept these changes in
the following ways:
• Be sure to give the customer as much advanced
notice of any changes that are going to occur
• Share as much information about the change as you
can with the customer
• Explain to the customer why the change is necessary
and why things could not remain as they were in
the past
• Let the customer know what the objectives and
expected results are for these changes
• Give the customer time to adjust to the change
(continued)

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83. Help the Customer Accept Change
(concluded)
What changes do you foresee coming that you may need
to help your customers deal with and accept?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can you help your customers deal with these
changes?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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84
Play a Supportive Role for the Customer
There are many roles that you can play for your customer. One of the most important is providing support
to the customer. You need to support your customer in
any way that they can use your assistance. Support can
be provided in many different ways. You can give your
customers emotional support by ensuring them that you
will provide them the highest quality product or service
possible, on time, every time. You can also support their
efforts to meet their own customer’s requirements. You
need to think of support exactly as its name implies—to
help hold something up or keep it from falling. Thus
providing support to your customer can’t be something
that you just provide occasionally or when the mood
strikes you. To truly play a supportive role to your
customer, you constantly have to be there when they
need you.
How can you play a more supportive role for your
customer?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
(continued)
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84. Play a Supportive Role for the Customer
(concluded)
How can playing this supportive role help you build a
better relationship with your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
When do your customers need your support the most?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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85
Treat the Customer Like a Friend
Treating the customer like a friend doesn’t necessarily
mean that you have to be their friend. True friendship
is a special relationship that you have with only a select
number of people in your life. You treat friends differently than you do other people. You show them kindness, trust, respect, patience, understanding, and many
other things in this mutually supportive and nurturing
relationship.
Acts of kindness and genuine concern for someone else
will usually be reciprocated. You don’t have to become
friends with your customers, but treating them more like
one can have many positive results for both of you. You
will find that treating a customer as you would a friend
can result in building a stronger relationship.
What could possibly result if you began treating your
customers as you would your friends?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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86
Don’t Take Unfair Advantage
Occasionally, you might find yourself in a position with a
customer in which you have the “upper hand.” In other
words, the customer has no other choice but to agree to
whatever you want in order for them to meet their objectives or commitments. But this situation could change,
and the customer will remember how you treated them
when they were most vulnerable.
You have a choice to make. Choose below how you
want the customer to remember how you reacted in
this situation:
____ That you came through and really helped them
out of a difficult situation and strengthened your
business relationship by your actions.
____ That you took unfair advantage of the customer in
this situation. Even though they had no other
choice but to do business with you this time,
they won’t allow themselves to be put in this
situation again.
The choice is yours!

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87
Become a Resource to the Customer
Resources are those things that are of value to a business that help them reach their goals. Resources are
usually something in limited supply for everyone in
business, including customers. This is what makes them
so valuable. The more you can become a resource for
your customers, the more valuable you will be to them.
The best thing for your customer is when they use you
as a resource, and it doesn’t directly add cost to them.
For example, many organizations today have limited
resources to accomplish everything they have to do. The
more you can provide certain services that could help
the customer achieve their goals, the more valuable a
resource you will become. These resources may cost
you little or no extra expense to provide to the
customer. This might include sharing information or
databases, office or meeting space, advice, personnel,
training, or countless other resources. One word of
caution: Each customer may perceive the value of
particular resources differently. What may be considered a valuable resource by one customer may be of
little or no interest to another. For example, meeting
space may be a scarce resource to one customer and a
commodity to another. Resources, like so many other
things, may indeed be in the eye of the beholder!
(continued)

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87. Become a Resource to the Customer
(concluded)
What might be some examples of resources that you
could provide that would be considered valuable to your
customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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88
Think Win/Win with the Customer
Thinking win/win means that you look for ways in which
both you and the customer benefit from doing business
together. If either party is not satisfied as a result of
doing business together, then you have something less
than a win/win situation. It may be a win/lose scenario
in which you benefit at the customer’s expense, or a
lose/win scenario in which you don’t reach your objective, but the customer does. Or you could have a lose/
lose situation where both you and the customer lose as
a result of not doing business together.
Obviously, win/win is the goal that you must constantly
strive to achieve with your customers. It is the only way
that both of you will be completely satisfied as a result
of your business relationship and interested in continuing it in the future.
What are examples of the following scenarios in your
business relationship with your customer?
Win/Win: _______________________________________
__________________________________________________
Win/Lose:_______________________________________
__________________________________________________
(continued)

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88. Think Win
Win/Win
/Win with the Customer
(concluded)
Lose/Lose: _____________________________________
__________________________________________________
Lose/Win: ______________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can you work toward achieving win/win scenarios
with your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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89
Be a Team Player
You constantly hear about the need for teamwork in
business today. To most people, working as a member of a team means supporting others in their own
company. We typically do not think of teamwork as
going beyond the boundaries of our own organization.
However, to truly support your customer and build a
stronger relationship, you must think of yourself as a
member of their team as well. You need to support the
customer as they strive to reach their goals for success
much the same as you would your own team. Just like
in sports, where one player’s performance enables
another to score points for their team, you need to help
your customers win in their competitions as well.
How can you become more of a team player for your
customer?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
Again, thinking of sports where one player enables
another to make the “big play,” how can you provide
support for your customers in this way as a team
player?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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90
Think Long-term Relationships
When it comes to relationships with your customer,
you need to think long term. Sometimes it may be
difficult to look ahead that far. We easily become so
focused on meeting our daily, weekly, monthly, or even
quarterly sales goals that we lose sight of the long-term
implications. This is particularly important when dealing
with relationships with customers. Thinking long term
about your customers means that you consider not
only meeting today’s goals, but look at what will most
likely strengthen your relationship and ensure that
they continue doing business with you in the future.
In business, we have to be constantly looking at both
the short- and long-term impact of our actions, particularly as these affect our relationships with customers.
There needs to be an appropriate balance between
both aspects of doing business. If either the short
term or long term is overlooked, there can become an
imbalance between these two important considerations.
Unfortunately, it is usually the long-term aspects of
relationships with the customer that are most often
sacrificed to achieve some shorter-term goal or objective. At times you might find that this is acceptable.
However, if you ignore for too long the long-term
aspects of your relationship with your customer, you
may no longer have that customer to worry about in
the future.
(continued)

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90. Think LongLong-term Relationships (concluded)
What is the most appropriate balance between shortterm and long-term considerations with your customers?
Is this balance too heavily weighed on either short or
long term?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
Is there enough emphasis on the longer-term aspects of
your business relationship with your customers? If this
relationship is out of balance, what can or should be
done to correct this situation?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
Short term

140

Long term

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91
Don’t Waste the Customer’s Time
Time is money, and today most of us have less time (as
well as money) than ever before to spare. Wasting your
customer’s time is the same as wasting their money.
Whenever a customer has contact with you, a certain
amount of their resources is being spent. Your objective
in asking for a customer’s time should always be
that they will ultimately feel that it was money well
spent. If not, then it was a waste of time and money
for both of you.

Time = Money Exercise
Think about how much money your customers actually
spend when you ask for their time. In the following
exercise, roughly estimate what just one hour of the
customer’s time might cost them. This, of course, will be
nothing more than a guess on your part, but can put the
dollar range that might be involved into perspective.
Consider such things as salaries, rent, utilities, taxes, and
other associated costs involved in doing business. You
may think of your own company’s cost in projecting what
your customer’s might be. Again, accuracy is not as
important in this estimate as gaining a better understanding of just how valuable your customer’s time is
to them.
Estimated customer’s cost of giving you one hour of
their time: $__________
(continued)

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91. Don’t Waste the Customer’s Time
(concluded)
How can you make this investment on your customer’s
part yield the greatest dividends for them?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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92
Act Like a Business Partner
Business partners work to benefit each other. What is
good for one, is also good for the other partner’s
interests. They each strive to find ways to add value
to their partnership. Each contributes to the partnership, making the pair stronger because of their unique
offerings. Partnerships create synergy. In other words,
working alone, neither of the partners would be as
successful as they are together. Partners need to trust
each other and share information that allows them
to reach these greater goals. They also provide support
for each other through good times in business as well
as bad.
In what ways could you act more like a business partner
with your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What are some common goals of this partnership?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
(continued)

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92. Act Like a Business Partner (concluded)
What information could you share with your customer/
partner that would be beneficial to you both?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can you provide more support for your customer/
partner?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What opportunities are there for synergy in this partnership between you and your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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Part 6
Achieving Results

93
Deliver on Your Deliverables
Deliverables are what you have agreed that you will provide or do for the customer. The customer associates
you with your deliverables. The customer does business
with you because they need your deliverables. It is what
the customer wants and expects from you. Deliverables
are what keeps you in business. They are what the
customer pays for.
Sometimes you can get so caught up in your work that
you forget about the importance of your deliverables.
There are just so many details that you have to deal
with on a daily basis at work. However, you need to
keep in mind that your deliverables are what keep you
in business, and without them, there would be no other
details you would have to worry about at work.
What are your deliverables for your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
(continued)

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93. Deliver on Your Deliverables (concluded)
Do the details of your business sometimes seem to take
priority over delivering your deliverables to your customer? If so, how?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can you ensure that you don’t lose sight of the
importance of your deliverables to your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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94
Sell with Class
Selling with class can mean many things. It can mean
that you treat the customer like they are the most
important person in the world to you. It can also mean
that you display a certain degree of character and
principle in all of your dealings with the customer. It
might also represent a certain style that is part of the
way you do business.
How would you define “selling with class”?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What value do you think your customers place in dealing
with those who sell with class?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can you sell with more class?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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95
Share Your Awards with the Customer
Everyone enjoys receiving those small gifts or tokens
that companies often give away to recognize an event or
occasion. These might be a coffee cup, calculator, flashlight, T-shirt, or any number of other gifts or awards.
Typically, these are presented to each employee in
appreciation and recognition of their contributions
toward reaching the goal the company is celebrating.
It is also a good idea to ensure that you present these
same gifts to your customers. After all, they too play an
important role on your team. Without your customers,
you wouldn’t be in business. They should be recognized
for their contributions to achieving the goals as well.
What customers of yours should you include in your
distribution the next time you present a gift or award to
your employees?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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96
Don’t Depend on the Customer’s Loyalty
If you are looking for unwavering loyalty, then buy
yourself a dog, but don’t expect it from your customers!
Although a customer may indeed feel a sense of loyalty to
you as a supplier, don’t depend on it entirely. Loyalty in
business, no matter how strong it may have once been,
will only go so far. Ultimately, even more important than
loyalty will be your customer’s business needs. If you
can no longer meet the customer’s requirements, they
will find someone else who can. You have to earn the
customer’s loyalty each and every business day.
Are you depending on your customer’s sense of loyalty
to continue doing business with you? Maybe even a
little bit? What percentage do you think you are
depending on the customer’s sense of loyalty to
continue your business relationship? _____%
Is this too high of a percentage? If so, what do you think
would be a reasonable percentage? _____%
(continued)

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96. Don’t Depend on the Customer’s Loyalty
(concluded)
In what ways might you be depending too much on your
customer’s loyalty?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What are you doing to earn rather than depend on your
customer’s loyalty each and every day?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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97
Help the Customer Reduce Costs
Rising costs are a problem for every business today,
and your customers are no exception. Any way that
you may be able to help the customer reduce costs can
add value not only to your services, but also to your
relationship. Although this may sound self-defeating,
part of your efforts to help the customer reduce costs
should be in finding less expensive ways to do business
with you. The costs you can save the customer in this
way can pay back significant dividends to strengthening
your relationship together.
What are some opportunities you have to help your
customers reduce costs?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can you help the customer purchase your product/
services more cost effectively?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What might be the benefits to you in helping the
customer reduce costs in either of these ways?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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98
Focus on Beating
the Customer’s Competition
Do you consider your customer’s competitors to be your
competitors? This concept represents the ultimate in
building a better relationship with your customers. You
have to help them defeat their competitors. Their competitors need to become your competitors if they are
not already. Common competitors can build strong
bonds between people. The more focused both you and
the customer are on the competition, the better you will
be able to beat them.
Who are your customer’s competitors?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How can you better help your customers beat their
competition?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How could being more focused on your customer’s
competitors help your relationship with them?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________

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99
Focus on Getting the Customer Results
Sometimes we get so involved in the process that we
fail to pay attention to results. You must have a clear
understanding of the results that the customer is trying
to achieve and focus on these same objectives.
Remember, you will ultimately be judged on how you
contributed to the end result. The process of getting
there is important only because it supports obtaining
these results. You need to make sure that everything
you do for the customer is truly supportive of their
desired results. If not, you run the risk of damaging your
relationship and losing their business.
What are the customer’s results that you are supporting
by the product or service you provide?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
(continued)

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99. Focus on Getting the Customer Results
(concluded)
How well are you supporting the accomplishment of
these results?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
How could you do this better?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What affect could this have on your relationship with the
customer?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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100
Look for Ways to
Add Value to the Customer
The main objective of any business is to add value to
their customers through their product or service. Your
customers want this from you. In fact, they want the
most value from their money that they can possibly
obtain. The more ways that you can find to add value to
your customers, the stronger you will build your working
relationship. However, you need to ensure that you are
focusing on the right things to try to add value. The best
way to understand this is to ask the customer how you
can add value and then deliver this value.
What are some opportunities for you to add value to
your customers?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
If you don’t know for sure what would be value-added to
the customer, how can you find out what would be?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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101
Search for Ways to
Improve Your Service or Product
The quality process calls this continuous improvement.
What this means is that you must constantly be searching for ways to improve your product or service to
the customer. It doesn’t matter how small these
improvements are. Most important is that you continue
to improve. Instead of trying to hit “home runs,” you
should be happy with getting a “hit” as it relates to
improving your service or product every time you “step
up to bat.” In baseball, more runs are scored as a result
of hits than from home runs. The same is true
when dealing successfully with a customer. Building
a stronger relationship comes not so much from one
single significant event, but rather a long series of
things that continuously improve your service or product
for the customer.
In what ways can you continuously improve your product
or service to your customer?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
What might happen to your working relationship with the
customer if you should ever stop improving?
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
__________________________________________________
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