Many people believe that having an exceptional, cutting-edge product that addresses real problems in a specific market is key to running a successful technology company. While this is undoubtedly an important part, most successful entrepreneurs have realized that this alone does not lead to widespread adoption and retention of new customers.
To succeed and build its business, a technology company must recognize that prioritizing interpersonal relationships with consumers is the foundation of long-term success.
It comes down to
In the current economic climate, as they face the strains of an impending recession, business owners are increasingly concerned about their bottom line. As a result, they analyze their budgets and scrutinize how every dollar is spent. Vendors, service providers and technology solutions that have not yet proven to be a vital, required part of the business are rapidly being phased out.
In these uncertain times, technology vendors may think it wise to promote their use of data or better product capabilities, but experience has taught me that cultivating strong and meaningful customer relationships requires more work and effort.
This is often the saving grace of a technology company. Startups can build a loyal customer base by nurturing connections that result in long-term value creation for their consumers by providing added value through genuine human connection and assistance.
Technology companies that lose sight of the human side of running a business risk becoming alienated from their customer base, often resulting in a lack of understanding of customer goals and issues. Investors, property owners and developers must be able to react quickly to market instability in an industry like commercial real estate, where finances and project status can change in the blink of an eye.
Entrepreneurs who are in constant dialogue with their customers can gain real-time insight into how market movements affect their customers’ businesses and adjust their approach to avoid future pitfalls.
Create mutually beneficial relationships
The ideal method for cultivating strong interpersonal bonds is to see your customers as people first and foremost, rather than as a source of money. My digital real estate company was founded about seven years ago and one of the wisest moves my founding partners and I made was building a dedicated client success team. The main aim of this team is to act as trusted advisors to our clients, which is why it consists of former real estate developers and project managers.
Your customer success team essentially needs to operate as an extension of the customer team, so it’s critical to have staff who speak the customer’s language and understand the subtleties and pain points of their business.
Customers need to know that your team is reliable, attentive and that you really care about any issues they encounter, especially during times of economic instability. By going all out in your customer support operations and doing your best to understand the people who make up a customer’s business, rather than just the numbers and the bottom line, they will consider you a trusted partner and an important member of their own team.
The ability to learn from your consumers to produce a stronger, more robust product is an added benefit of cultivating good customer relationships. For example, if a customer is having trouble estimating their cash flow, my team can create a product to help them do that.
This allows us to refine our solution and broaden our services to address pain points that would not have been on our radar without a customer’s candid comments or ongoing conversations with our customer success team.
Focus on long-term relationships
It is critical to form significant, long-lasting relationships with customers by making them feel heard, understood and supported. Here are a few suggestions and tactics I’ve learned over the years for developing better, more engaged customer relationships:
Focus on long-term goals versus short-term rewards.
While it may be easy to make more money in the short term by recommending a wide variety of products, taking the time to thoroughly understand a client’s business and the gaps in their operations and workflow will make all the difference when it comes to developing a long-term strategy. focused on your customer’s goals and will result in a more meaningful business relationship.
Build a team of industry experts.
Customer success teams need to enhance technology with layers of contextual experience. When trying to deliver relevant insights and recommendations, it’s critical to have a team made up of individuals who have spent time in and understand the complexities of the client’s industry.
Be a trusted advisor.
Customers need to be able to rely on your staff to be there when they need it, especially in times of uncertainty and chaotic market conditions. Having knowledgeable customer success staff who understand how to navigate and solve complex challenges will show your customers that they can rely on you in even the toughest of circumstances.
Don’t lose the personal touch.
After all, your clients’ businesses are run by people who are influenced by the same things as you. When the opportunity arises, be personal and sensitive, and show a genuine interest in their family and interests. Getting to know the people who run your client’s business is key to building a long-lasting relationship.
As a leader, I make it a point to underline that valuing customer relationships means prioritizing organizational success. At the end of the day, both startups and their customers recognize that the ultimate goal is to make money – it’s still a business – but technology companies that don’t overlook the importance of human relationships will always have a competitive advantage.