Building positive relationships with customers and stakeholders is a basic necessity in any business. These relationships go a long way in terms of supporting business growth. There are many techniques, which can be used when building long-term relationships with customers. Among those techniques scholars distinguish open-ended questions, active listening, effective feedback, making no assumptions, prompt reaction to customers’ requests and claims.
The art of building strong relationships with customers starts with open communication. One needs to use open-ended questions, listen actively, and make no assumptions about customers’ needs. More specifically, open-ended questions such as “why”, “how”, “when”, and “where” are important in building relationships because they can help one to engage with customers’ needs and preferences very fast. Moreover, active listening is a communication technique that aids in building relationships with customers whereby the listener (customer service agent) pays total attention to what the other person (customer) is saying. Effective feedback with customers and stakeholders will help improve interaction between concerned parties. On the other hand, it is very important for customer service agents to avoid making assumptions about the customers’ needs. This ensures that the customer service agents understand customers’ needs fully and remain open to the customers’ questions (Gunelius, 2009; Acuff, 2004). For example, the work of an airport ticket agent who has to service customers with different needs ranging from a change of destination or time to some other customers’ seeking refunds for their delayed freights. Here, without proper, active listening skills, ticket agents may encounter a rough experience with customers because the situation requires that they listen and understand the problems presenting from customers in order to address them satisfactorily. As a result, the ticket agents can improve the interaction with customers by becoming active listeners. This requires that the customer service agent disregards all distractions and focuses on the customers’ questions besides asking a few questions here and there in order to guide the conversation to a possible end. Moreover, the customer service agent should concentrate on what the customer is saying to ensure that all points are noted. Lastly, it is not advisable to interrupt customers before they have given all the information regarding their respective problems.
Applying those techniques of building relationships with consumers, the customer service agents can assure that customers will leave their desks satisfied with the rendered services, and they will most probably return to the same desk next time (Clark, 2003).