How to Develop the Relationship to Prevent Problems

by Joy Lanzaro

Be willing to be satisfied. It’s strange but true. Small-business owners and their staff really like making their customers happy for its own reward. They’ll go the extra mile for customers who will be satisfied with a job well done. Yes, it’s a monetary transaction, but sincere appreciation is an intrinsic reward and can grease the gears of good will. And, because reasonable people tend to have reasonable friends, company owners will make a reasonable effort to earn your trust and referrals. It’s an investment and a reward in itself.

Unfortunately, there’s an erroneous idea that service providers are desperate for business and have to accommodate any type of demand to get future referrals or avoid bad press on social media. Nothing freezes up good-faith offers faster than a customer whose satisfaction is a moving target or whose expectations are totally disconnected from reality. Negotiations stop when a company owner realizes, “No matter what we do, this customer won’t be happy.”

Does that mean you have to be happy all the time? No. Sometimes the service legitimately falls short of expectations. That’s why it helps to have a good working relationship. In a majority of cases, the alternative is silence. In an effort to avoid conflict or unpleasantness, many customers simply refrain from future dealings with the company without offering input about their experiences. Silence deprives both sides of the benefits of a feedback loop that informs both sides and can potentially restore and build trust. The company may not even be aware that the customer was not satisfied and go merrily on with a blind spot about its business practices.

You can lay the groundwork for a good working relationship by:

  • Voicing your concerns with tact when something doesn’t turn out as planned
  • Articulating reasonable and achievable goals and expectations in advance (if possible)
  • When things go exactly as planned or better, reciprocating with referrals or simply expressing sincere and earnest appreciation

Most service transactions are like mini-relationships. There’s comfort in knowing that a sincere effort will be made to meet your needs. It feels good to connect friends and family to trustworthy service providers and great experiences. It gives the service provider a little boost to know they made someone’s day. In the long term, a good working relationship has benefits for both the consumer and the service provider.