We all continually hear about communication as a vital factor for success. However, within the business environment, without effective communication (and all the competencies that surround it) there cannot be any success.
Often the professional working arenas place a strong focus on the technical aspects of a job, with the assumption that the human elements will take care of themselves. But as the Vice-chairman of Pepsico, Roger Enrico, put it: ‘The soft stuff is always harder than the hard stuff. Training and perseverance can perfect professional skills, yet something more is required when building and maintaining relationships.’
For those who question the importance of relationships in business, here are some stats that may make you rethink your position:
The cost of renewal of an existing customer is 11% of the cost to acquire a new customer.
A 5% increase in customer retention can increase the company’s profitability by 75%.
Improving either retention or monetisation will have two to four times the impact of acquisition (which has a 3,32% impact) or growth.
(Price Intelligence study run by Patrick Campbell, 2016)
If a company loses 2−3% of their customers on a monthly basis, they need to grow between 27% and 43% a year to maintain their revenue levels.
Why do relationships matter so much? The answer is simple: we like to work with those we know and like. For many business owners and managers, there is a comfort in having a professional that we trust who we can call on when we need something done. As much as we can calculate the cost of having to find new clients, so too do our clients have to calculate the cost of finding a new provider.
The starting point must be your own intrapersonal communication − this being the conversations that you have with yourself which build your emotions, perceptions, beliefs and attitudes. Your intrapersonal skills refer to how you solve problems, how you manage your emotions, and how well you understand yourself – including your strengths and weaknesses. It is only by knowing yourself that you are then able to branch out in cultivating meaningful relationships with others. Knowing yourself also facilitates how you want to interact and be seen by your clients.
In terms of building working relationships, there are some core factors that come into play. These include: making your relationship meaningful with your client, asking questions, and being curious about their business. If you deliberately focus on the elements of a relationship, your client retention will be safe. These factors include: being honest, routinely calling on clients, listening to their needs, doing what you said you would, being proactive in their interests, not overpromising and underdelivering, and accepting accountability for results.
Merchants (a Dimension Data company) maintains that 89% of customers will drop a service if their needs are not seen to in a satisfactory manner and that 55% of customers would be willing to pay more for a better customer service experience. Service and relationships matter. If your client knows your calibre of service, trusts who you are and knows that you provide a value-added service to them, your relationship should remain solid and strengthen over time. Communication is one of the most powerful tools available in the business arena: use it wisely and use it well.
‘Building fruitful and lasting relationships starts with abandoning the conventional ‘‘me’’-based thoughts that are so prevalent in the business world and so easy to slip into in our personal lives − Michelle Tillis Lederman, 11 Laws of Likability
AUTHOR l Neale Roberts MBA(Entrepreneurship), PGDMM, ILPA(Life) is an Accredited Business Coach and Business Coach Trainer