Category Archives: Business Relationships

The sciences of economics and management are said to be social sciences. As business owners, we are one of the most effective students of these behavioral sciences. We can readily observe changes in attitude and preferences of the market consumers for our goods and services.

Establishing and evaluating business relationships are therefore essential to our line of work. Without good business relationships, we could not strike out great bargain deals from our suppliers, and we cannot establish rapport with our customers very well. A good business relationship will help us take our firm into the top of marketing, sales, and the competition.

angry business woman pointing her watch

How to Manage Client Expectations

Mismanagement of client expectations could really damage your business name and its repercussions might be detrimental to your long term growth. Let me stress out a few key steps in managing client expectations.

1. Say it loud and bold

Be upfront. As long as you maintain your sincerest courtesy, being candid will for sure work for the benefit of all parties. Never leave anything ambiguous, it is much safer if you lay out your terms in the simplest manner possible. Also, be specific with you coverage including its corresponding boundaries.

2. If you said it, do it

Never even attempt to sugar coat your words, it will back fire in the end. Make your life simple, if you say things, and then mean it. Don’t go around announcing some promises when you do not even have the slightest idea how to go about what you have promised. It is plain foolishness to promise anything you cannot deliver. If someone approaches you for work and it happens that apparently you cannot guarantee a quality job, then at least have the decency to mention someone who could make a good work out of it. Being audacious will make you grow, but please do not do it if you will jeopardize other people’s business.

3. Show samples of your work

If you buy things from someone, you do not rely merely in his words right? For sure you will ask for a portfolio of his work so as to pacify your doubts. Clients certainly feel the same way. They would ask for the best samples of your work as a guarantee that indeed they have the right man to do their job for them.

4. Talk and work in your client’s language

When you work according to your client’s communication method, you are paying them the highest compliment you could ever offer. You are showing courtesy that are rarely seen nowadays. Clients will love the idea that the work you are doing for them speaks after their own manner and style because it captures their own identity. Do not go overboard though; just do in a way that is amenable to you.

5. Document everything

It won’t hurt to document everything, writing down anything necessary regarding the project. A follow up email with a brief summary of your discussion is a good idea of documenting and confirming of what you have discussed.

6. Be honest

Do not hide anything. There is no point of mentioning only your good points and not the shortcomings. Whether you like it or not, they will still find it anyway sooner or later. Tell your clients honestly of your actual capacity, capability and limitations. Speak to them about your victories and your challenges.

7. Establish boundaries

It’s okay to go extra mile in servicing your clients. It is even commendable to go out of your way to help them once in a while. But since you are in business, you have to set certain boundaries and limitations.

8. Draw an agreement and stick to it

Start only any project when you already have a signed agreement. Your agreement will serve as your binding contract and your guide as to the coverage and limitations of the project all the way through.

Loyalty Cards

The Three-Pronged Approach to Maximizing Customer Loyalty

Customer loyalty schemes have always made their marks on the retail and services industry. One can name quite a few loyalty schemes that are going around. These can range from retailer loyalty, to online rewards, frequent flier rewards, and other travel programs to name a few. In an industry where every inch of the market is being disputed, and every customer counts, businesses have to formulate new approaches in establishing customer retention programs.

When loyalty programs came about, they were a big hit on the market and the marketers since they’re something new. With customer loyalty in everyone’s mind nowadays, there will be a saturation of programs within a few years’ time. We foresee that these programs have very little differences with each other, and as a result, customers will be more difficult to please and participation in such programs will waver. Even though this might be the case, it can still be assured that loyalty programs will continue  to rake in targeted participation; provided that the offers are attractive enough.

Management then needs to learn a very important lesson based on the environment: loyalty schemes have their own life cycles. At first, they might be very effective, but given a few months, or even weeks, they lose their initial momentum quite quickly as the customers become accustomed to the loyalty programs.  The best way to adapt then is to innovate and venture into the untried and the unknown. There are three resources that you can tap to push for innovative customer loyalty ideas. These are your networks, data, and convergence.

Getting to know Your Customers to Maximize your Networks

If your loyalty programs are heavily reliant on customers with very specific needs; a very important point is to get to know who your customers are. These can be done thru analysis of your customers’ behavior. Take a look at your customer demographic. These can tell you quite a lot about how effective your programs are; and who’s engaging in them.

The next approach is getting feedback from your customers. Getting to know the reasons why customers are changing to another provider or service gives you a better and more unbiased perspective of how your products and services are viewed by your customers. Furthermore, you can also ask your customers what attracted them to your product and service. You can then craft your new loyalty programs with this analysis of customer behavior as the focal point.

Engage in Online Networks

With the dawn of the internet, and its apparent ability to reach out to millions with very minimal cost can also be the focal point of your retention programs. Membership webpages, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook accounts can provide you loyal customers, given that they contain specific and relevant content for your customer base.

Do not Lose the Human Touch

Though most of the marketing and loyalty programs today are done virtually, always remember to never lose the ‘human touch’ when it comes to establishing loyalty among your member base. You can gather loyalty to your product or service by getting friends, family, colleagues into your network. You can also hold members-only exclusive events or sponsor an event to draw potential customers in person.

Gather Data from your Customers

As mentioned above, get to know your customers and their behaviors. You can come up with loyalty programs that allow your customers to identify themselves and make the data gathering work easier for you. Consider loyalty programs for customers who want to make themselves known and testify for your products and service. This not only gives you more leverage when it comes to word-of-mouth, but it also provides you data on what’s working for you; so that you can capitalize on it.

Understand your most Valuable Clients

Get to know who your most valuable customers are. It is imperative for a business to know what percent of your customer demographic accounts for the highest percentage of your sales. By tapping into these resources and coming up with loyalty programs specifically targeting this demographic, you can further increase your foothold on your customer base.

Use different approaches to come up with Targeted Offers

As a business owner, you can also analyze your customers based on transactional and demographic data. Once given a blended approach to finding out what makes your customers tick; you can then come up with targeted offers that will maximize these customer groups. Furthermore, given this analysis of data, personalization of these loyalty programs will drive more relevance to your targeted demographic.

Forming Coalitions with the Big Players

If you are a smaller player in a very big field, where the biggest names play, you can also look at forming strategic partnerships with the most established players in the field. If you are given a chance to form coalitions you might consider these things first:

Coalitions: “What’s in it for you and your customers?”

Yes, it’s true that provided a chance to form coalitions, your customers would get better rewards and quicker turnarounds. There is also what we call the ‘acquisition effect.’ Forming coalitions would greatly benefit you and your partners and might leave most of your competition green with envy. Coalitions   also works by getting more customers from sponsorships from the other partners. As a coalition, your goal is to make each other’s customers your own; therefore increasing the customer base, not only for you, but for your partners as well.

Another important benefit of forming strategic partnerships with the big brands is brand alignment. You get to align your products and services with different brands, preferably the most known ones. Always make sure to consider the other partners’ reputations. Given a reputable set of partners, aligning yourself with them will not only push your reputation due to association, but will also increase your customer base.

In the market today where the struggle to retain customers get fiercer and fiercer every day, customer loyalty can be maximized by utilizing your business’ three major resources: networks, customer data, and coalitions. Most importantly, in pushing for these customer retention programs one concept should always be put as the focal point of every loyalty program: innovation.

business owner cafe

Get Referred, Rethink, then Re-strategize

These days, running a business through word of mouth just isn’t enough anymore. Long gone are the days when an entire business strives on some solid reputation and loyal customers’ word of mouth.

In running your business, having a rock-solid reputation is definitely a must.  This is where you base your word of mouth advertising. While it’s true that word of mouth can take you places, relying on it though is just not enough these days. Certainly, working on referrals will continue to rake in more customers; but you’re missing out on one important key to becoming a successful business: constant promotion. Somewhere out there, there are potential customers who need your products or services. The thing is, these people don’t even know your business exists.

With the economy struggling, your customers’ budgets are slowly being pushed to the limit. Each person is looking to stretch the value of his or her dollar; and the customers who you thought were loyal are also looking for businesses that can give them the lowest rate with the same services or products as yours.  The main concern here is that if you rely on this customer to provide you with referrals; all of that can be gone with the loss of this one client.

With the struggling economy in mind, you always need to put customer attrition into the equation of running your business. A loss of a single customer will mean a lot to a company that runs solely on its reputation and word-of-mouth. You now need to invest on attracting more customers to try to negate the effect of customer attrition in your business.

In comes marketing your business. If you work based on word-of-mouth referrals, then it’s time to rethink your strategy. You might want to find out how customers view your products and/or services first, then capitalize on that. You can do this by having your customers answer surveys or just by asking them what they think of your business. You can also ask them to give testimonials on how your product or services was able to help them. Given this customer data, you can then use it as the focal point of your marketing strategy. You want to get the positive experiences of your customers out there in the market, so that potential customers can get to see them.

Putting all things into consideration, marketing then should be part of your daily business operations. With the environment now, you need more visibility to earn you a bigger foothold in your niche. Having this visibility will protect you from customer attrition, and get you more customers.  You just need to find out the positive points in your business, from a customer’s perspective and work your marketing strategy from there.


Engaging with Customers in 5 Steps

We live in an age where the customer dictates the essence of your business in any convresation. These are the steps you may follow in improving your relationship with them.

These days, customers could readily and out rightly reject your marketing styles especially if you do not have the right strategies to engage them. No matter what kind of material you present to them, everything else still boils down to the fact that your success heavily depends on their discretion. As they say, “they’re the boss”. Your brand value now is gauged primarily by what they hear from friends they communicate with in Social Media Networks, or by doing self research on new products using the great resources from the web.

The following are the basic steps to give you a better grip on your customers:


Make the time to listen to your customers. Get involved in their world. There’s no way you will be able to understand their propensities and expectations if what you just keep on hearing are your own words. Put yourself in their shoes and try to view things according to their perspective. Involve your customers by soliciting their insights as to how you could make your products and services better. This should be not hard to do; even in the web, you could find so many resources to which you may listen to other people’s views.


Look at how you convey your intentions. You must be able to communicate to your customers your intent of helping them sort out their dilemma. You do not need to talk about yourself in particular because no one would even care. What customers need to see is whether you communicate to them and about them.


Act, react and respond to your customers’ suggestions, comments and needs. When you communicate to your customers, you do not stop there; you rather take another mile in making sure that every legitimate feedback gets a reasonable response. It is your way of validating your good intent of helping them. The customers will surely know that you care.


Create an environment and a community online where your customers will be given the proper avenue to communicate their voice. Creative conversation helps create fruitful marketing. By giving your customers the right medium, you might have provided your customers a chance to transform your business and bring it to a successful level.


Evaluate your business in its entirety. Study your strength and loopholes. Make sure to make up for your shortcomings and to take advantage of your strength in helping you answering the needs of your customers.

There could be a great number of ways of communicating with your customers; you may choose one or two that you are most comfortable with, as long as it addresses your customers’ requirements.


Managing Client’s Expectations 101

A client’s expectation that has gone awry may have nasty consequences that may burn huge costs and damage your reputation. You will find it helpful to consider the following outlines in managing client expectations.

1. Define the expectations

Be blunt and specific of your coverage. Exhaust all possible ways to make your points simple, clear and straightforward which makes it easy for reading and understanding.

2. Outline your boundaries

Make sure to slash off anything that states ambiguity, leaving nothing with misleading postulations. Point out your boundaries in clear cut language.

3. Don’t over promise

There’s the right time to be daring, and sometimes it is what is called for in any given situation, however, do not attempt to be so at the expense of the client. Never over promise nor exaggerate your capacity. If you accept a particular project, deliver what you have promised to deliver at all cost; otherwise, have the decency to decline or mention someone who you think could perform the job.

4. Provide samples of your deliverables

Clients are particular about results, and so they ask for some tested examples. Make sure to readily provide them your most valuable samples. If the clients are convinced of your work, everything else follows.

5. Be flexible with the clients form of communication

It will certainly help to ask your clients how would the communication flow will sound. Since the end result of your work must consistently agree with their principles and views, they will find it helpful that the communication method you use is patterned after theirs. This is your way of showing them your sincerity of helping them. However, do not go as far as providing options for the clients that are no longer amenable to you. Everything must be done with consideration.

6. Remember to touch base in writing

It is best if everything you have discussed is well-documented. It is therefore practical and helpful to send your client a brief summary of what you have verbally discussed. It shows your wisdom.

7. Be transparent

Do not project to your clients a perfect image of how you deal things. It is way better to be honest and frank of your real ability and capacity. This way, the client fully knows what he is getting.