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Nick Peart, marketing director EMEA of Zendesk looks at the seven things he has learned whilst working at Zendesk, with the benefit of hindsight.

nick-peart-profile-imageSince I started out in the technology sector some 14 years ago, the relationship between brand and consumer has rapidly evolved. Today, customers have the power to increase business revenue or drive it away. It’s those businesses that position the customer at the heart of their strategy that reap the rewards in the long-term. Giving customers a sense of authority by empowering them to influence and advise will ultimately help organisations build long-lasting customer relationships.

1You’re not God

One of the important lessons I’ve learned is that you might have the best solution out there but you need to remember that you are not the centre of your customer’s world. An important skill is to listen and truly understand the needs of your customer. You’re bound to disagree at certain points but just remember your main objective is to keep your customers happy and on side, so be tactical and consultative in your approach. A person is not ‘your customer’, even when they are buying your product. It is a privilege doing business with them, not the other way round.

2Drive for consistency

A customer relationship is not a one night stand; you don’t do business and then cut ties. Memories can be powerful. If the experience is poor what reason does the customer have to get in touch when a new product launches later down the line? The combination of one bad customer experience and the power of word of mouth could spell disaster for a brand. This is the reality of today’s customer economy and the reason why these relationships matter more than ever. It’s about providing a consistent and seamless customer experience across all communication channels to respond to consumers efficiently and effectively and ultimately benefit the business’ bottom line.

3Collaborate to create

I’m a big believer in building a healthy community where people feel at home within their work environment. Creating a friendly atmosphere encourages staff to be creative, meet, mingle and share ideas with their colleagues. No one should be afraid of voicing their opinion because no idea is a bad idea.

The collaboration concept also translates into your relationships with customers. Working together as a team to meet the same end goal not only ensures the customer feels important, but makes the process more streamlined and in-touch with the customer’s vision.

4Be transparent

In any successful business relationship transparency is key to establishing trust and loyalty. Over time I’ve learned that adhering to an open business concept is one of the things that scares business leaders most of all. The fact is companies that are reluctant about giving customers access to the same information as they have, good or bad, are likely hiding something for a reason.

The embarrassing truth will always come back to bite you; most likely splashed across social platforms for everyone to see. If something is not working be honest and change it before the problem escalates beyond your control.

5Customers are people too

In sales or customer support it’s obviously impossible to get to know every customer you deal with on a day-to-day basis. I’m not suggesting that you’re expected to remember every name or face you encounter, but it’s important to recognise customers are human too. Their problems are real, so it pays dividends tailoring your approach to e ach individual to make them feel valued. If customers are open to sharing their personal information with companies, the least you can do is use it to your advantage and personalise your approach accordingly.

6Empower people to be the best

As the battle for talent is ramping up, particularly in the tech industry, the pressure to keep employees happy is crucial. Employees are not machines they are people. The amount of effort and energy employees invest into their job has a direct impact on the business’ success. When staff feel engaged they naturally work harder rather than just simply punching the clock.

7 Go that extra mile

It might be a well-known customer service mantra but it’s not something that brands always work towards. Investing that extra bit of love and attention into your customer relationships will strengthen the bond. Even if customers don’t mention it, there’s no doubt they will notice and share their positive experience with other people.