How to Build Business Relationships and Why?
Updated: May 14
I am a small business owner. That is exciting to say out loud! As a business owner, a true key to my success has been bringing back the long-lost art of “customer service”. I feel so strongly about building business relationships based on reliability, being present and pleasant and commitment. These days, effective customer service can take on different forms, but the bottom line is you must provide high quality service in many forms to retain clients and earn referrals.
How many times have you called customer service for one of your home service providers and either hung up because there were no options to speak with an actual human, or you hung up after a long frustrating conversation during which ultimately you got nowhere. Now we could be talking about the phone company, your insurance carrier, a retail store, the “returns” department for virtually anything…you get the idea and you can probably think of a few examples of your own. As I said earlier, customer service seems to be a long-lost art. Not enough businesses have friendly, knowledgeable and patient customer support.
That said, when I decided to start my own business, I knew that client satisfaction was going to be on the top of my list! There are many ways to accomplish this. A consistent warm friendly manner is one. When your clients know they can count on you to be cheerful and happy to hear from them, you’ve made progress. Have you ever worked with someone that you always ask yourself, “Well, I wonder what kind of mood he or she will be in today?” That puts the conversation off to a stressful start. Don’t be that person for your clients!
In addition to providing great customer service to meet your client’s needs, you should have a method for building that relationship. A handwritten note on the work anniversary start date is a simple yet impactful touch point and it adds that personal touch. I have actually created a few simple printable business greeting cards and put them for sale on Etsy – super cheap. They have a pre-written note inside, and a place to sign your name. No excuses when it’s this easy!
For a virtual assistant, there are several relationship building methods. Attending networking events gives you an opportunity to meet new prospects and vendors while also having a quick conversation with an existing client or contact. I realize not all Virtual Assistants attend in-person networking. Facebook has a TON of online networking groups you can join. The concept is similar.
Inviting clients and contacts to connect via social media is pretty much a given these days. Take advantage of that connection by commenting on their posts, sharing valuable content your connections can benefit from (not everything should be a sales pitch) and ask for introductions when you see an opportunity. For me, the bottom line is that along with providing high quality service through my work, I can directly connect much of my success to the relationships I have built and fostered with my clients and contacts. I consider all of these activities critical components of customer service. The result has been satisfied long-term clients that happily refer their contacts my way! By keeping in touch with my contacts, whether or not they are a prospective client, I have also had referrals sent my way.
So, I invite you to join me in bringing back the art of customer service through building business relationships! Select the methods that work for you and be consistent. Not only will your business see results, but the process can be rewarding on a personal level.
Katie Bauer started Effective Virtual Assistance, LLC, in 2008. Based out of Northern Virginia, Effective Virtual Assistance, LLC partners with small businesses locally and nationally to give business owners the time they need to focus on core business and revenue generating activities. With a firm belief that when a client is successful, that reflects on her success, Katie’s goal is to go above and beyond with each and every client task and project.
Over the years Katie has been contacted by aspiring VAs through clients or directly via her website, asking for insight and advice. She realized writing a short eBook to share her experience along with offering some of the documents and tools could benefit other Virtual Assistants. Visit her Etsy shop to find these great resources.
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