The 5 critical components of vendor-to-client interaction
Businesses around the globe are transforming rapidly. Despite the previous devastating waves of the pandemic, many companies have become even more aggressive at ensuring long-term survival.
Technological invention is one way companies are using to meet the needs of customers as well as outshine the competition. But it’s not the only way. Nurturing authentic partnerships is another foolproof technique to keep companies on a positive growth spurt.
A well-established partner simply becomes an extension of your business. This kind of relationship takes time and investment to build and both parties are committed to each other’s success. It’s a symbiotic connection grounded on trust and shared vision.
As you grow more partnerships, your business becomes a flywheel that keeps increasing in speed and power. Take Amazon, for instance. This trailblazing eCommerce giant has 630+ partners with more than half of them being tech companies.
The benefits of building long-term partnerships with clients
The following is a list of benefits a company accrues for building long-lasting partnerships with clients:
- Reduce costs
Partnerships are grounded on a shared vision, shared risk, and reward. This is a mutual relationship where the vendor and client are invested in each other. As such, you can negotiate better rates for your company, access incredible discounts and other incentives that bolster profit margins.
The transparent nature of partnerships means a client can easily offer true guidance on cost-saving decisions. They will point out options that greatly save on money. Consequently, your company will witness reduced costs.
- Streamlined process
Partnerships are collaborative in nature. When you invite clients to become partners, grant them access to your company’s systems. Let them inspect your workflows as you do the same for theirs. In the end, recommendations will be made that ensure both parties have the most efficient processes.
- Improved customer service
By pointing out elements that are not working properly in your workflows, your partners can be the compass that directs you towards the best practices. In the end, customers stand to benefit from the superior customer services your company offers. As the number of customers grows, your business becomes a formidable force against the competition.
Critical components of building long-term partnerships
It is clear now how important long-term partnerships are to any business. Let’s have a look at the essential components of building healthy and long-term partnerships with clients.
Poor communication has been the cause of many business failures. Open communication, on the other hand, leads to enduring relationships. You should be willing to invite your clients to strategy meetings to make them feel a part of your company
Communicating clearly and frequently is essential too. But you need to strive on building a connection…not a transaction. Be receptive to opinions and Ask “What,” “Who,” “How,” and “Why” questions. Not only does it encourage dialogue but unfolds information about your client that could prove useful later on.
Do not neglect professional courtesy. Be polite and cordial. These are soft communication skills that let you keenly absorb the opinions of your clients, especially in instances where there is a disagreement on an issue.
For instance, at Red Collar, we frequently set up meetings, with designers on one end and our client’s team on the other. Sometimes clients are not well prepared and meetings drag on and on resulting in many uncoordinated issues.
However, with multiple years of experience, we’ve learned to streamline the process and listen to everyone. Here’s how we manage to do that:
- Proper prevention briefing: asking the right questions is already half the solution to a problem. At this stage, we ask as many questions as possible to understand our client, their business, their customers’ needs, the best promotion strategy, etc.
- “Flood control mechanisms”: throughout the negotiations, there are aspects that we intend to solve or clear up, but unfortunately discussions at times become lengthy. As such, it’s important to know how to diplomatically return to the starting point.
- Decentralization: we’ve come to learn how to approach various meetings and put time, the most valuable resource, to great use. For instance, general meetings are for critical issues while separate chats and micro-meetings are handled separately by departmental heads.
- Unity of purpose: team goals are only achieved through team efforts. After lengthy discussions, we usually establish the focus on unity and develop ideas further.
- Strive to use better communication tools like slack which easily double up as management tools. It’s okay to use email, phone, or instant messaging when the need arises.
2. Research and Define
Clients will come to your company with ‘run-of-the-mill’ ideas for their products. They would go ahead to assert that the “average” product or service they are requesting should be able to yield returns.
Clearly, it will be up to your company’s R & D team to take the client’s idea and transform it into something revolutionary. The product should still be in line with the client’s goals while meeting their customers’ needs.
R & D should be present at every stage of product or service development. And there are multiple questions that need to be raised and answered. These include:
- Who is the target audience?
- What problems will it solve that the competitors are not solving?
- How will the product compete in the market?
- Do customers have any insight that could improve the product
You need to work with your clients or their teams during this trailblazing stage, analyze how things are done in the market, pull up user statistics, and research related topics. When all is done, coalesce the entire information into a potential solution.
3. Serving business goals without neglecting the end user
We’ve already established that partnerships are symbiotic. So when executives or product managers approach you with ideas, some are likely to be vague. You’ll hear “we want something new” or “we want to be unique” and other opaque suggestions. Some don’t even have a clear picture of the desired results.
At this point, your team will brainstorm and report if the idea is viable or not. Even if the idea is workable, you must consider how practical it will be to your clients’ end users. At Red Collar, we brainstorm on clients’ ideas, front the results and propose changes if necessary.
So in a symbiotic partnership, you need to be ready to guide some of your customers towards generating productive solutions-not just for them-but their users as well. This way, they can recoup capital spent on generating new systems and services.
4. Working as a team
Different perspectives breed the best results. When clients approach you, they will share their ideas based on their understanding. And like we said before, some ideas are vague or might be problematic to scale in the future. It is now up to your company to course-correct the clients’ ideas and point them in the right direction.
At Red Collar, we usually hold round table meetings that consist of our developers and the client’s team. The process begins by bouncing ideas off of each other until we approach the right solution.
Working as a team remedies some issues that could potentially arise and complicate a partnership. Moreover, the fun and excitement around teams solidify existing bonds.
The greatest compliment a company can ever receive is a client coming back for more services. This is a huge signal that your business offers outstanding products as well as customer service.
Besides providing seamless customer service, you also need to recognize your clients’ limitations and help them smoothen them out. If you don’t and their business sinks, you lose a player that could have been valuable in helping you navigate cutthroat competition.
Here at Red Collar, we go the extra mile to ensure the digital systems we set up for our clients are glitch-free and running as expected. In return, clients have always come back to ask for extra promotional landing pages, bug fixes, and much more.