Relating to Customers

Want to improve business? The secret is in how you relate to customers.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the August 2006 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Barry, a career coach, wanted a better method for attracting clients who would provide him with repeat business. He had the typical set of one-timers but wanted to get the word out to people who would turn into long-term clients. Rather than immediately revamping his business, he decided to switch communications tactics.

Barry asked his customers to write testimonials highlighting the value of his services. He also listened more intently and with more interest to prospective clients. The outcome was amazing: A higher percentage of people turned into repeat customers.

Effective communication is important in all aspects of your business. Your message must be personal and informative to directly connect with your audience. Regardless of the format--written, verbal, visual or a combination thereof--your ability to deliver powerful and succinct messages is one of the most essential components of your business.

You've worked hard at establishing your business. Remember, you are not just selling products and services--you are also selling yourself. Learn the art of communicating positively, and people will be drawn to you and your business.

1. Sharpen your message through ruthless editing. Improve the quality of the responses you receive by keeping your questions and answers simple. Being clear makes it easier for recipients to understand and remember your message. Whether you're making a point during a conversation or in an e-mail, always keep the goal behind the communication in mind. Most details are more important to you than to others, so only impart information related to the current discussion.

2. Make all communication two-way. Entrepreneurs are often forceful, driven personalities who consistently infuse new ideas into their businesses. Be careful not to dominate every conversation. For a successful exchange of ideas, people desire and expect your full attention and respect. People want to be valued, and the best way to achieve that is by listening. Realize there's always more to learn, and gain commitment from others by asking questions when they express their opinions.

3. Use stories or mental pictures to communicate. People learn faster and remember better when you create a visual picture for them. Whether you're networking at a dinner or closing a big deal, illustrate major points using descriptive words, photos or stories. Turn any conversation into a marketing message by incorporating client testimonials that are relevant to your audience. Rather than just listing your accomplishments, paint a picture of success by highlighting how your products or services have helped others achieve specific goals.

4. Increase understanding through repetition. Increase people's comprehension and personal investment in you by repeating the main points of your message throughout all your communication. This will inspire others to probe further and provide you with additional information. Their increased comprehension makes it easier for them to spread the word about your business.

Keep developing your communication skills. You'll discover many new insights and unique opportunities by having the right conversations. Keep your communications up-to-date as your business evolves. You'll be amazed at how effective communication enables your life and work to move forward with ease.

Speaker and consultant Romanus Wolter, aka "The Kick Start Guy," is author of Kick Start Your Success and Kick Start Your Dream Business.
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