“It’s Nothing Personal…”, But It Sure Should Be!

Posted on 08. May, 2011 by in Customer Recognition, Customer Relationships

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The Trump Apprentice TV programs proclaim in their opening credits, “It’s nothing personal, it’s just business!”  I find this statement personally offensive.  It contradicts everything I believe about how good businesses are built and prosper.  The fact that Donald Trump espouses this philosophy suggests his views are very different from my own.  To me most successful businesses have one common element contributing to their success, the ability to form lasting personal relationships!

  • From the customers’ perspective, being treated personally and having familiar affiliations establishes a warmth that keeps customers returning.  Relationships fuel the emotional glue that “sticks” customers to organizations.
  • From the employees’ perspective, having an organization respect them on a personal level and show appreciation for them bonds them, making them less attracted to hungry competitors offering them sweeter salaries.
  • And from the suppliers’ perspective, personal relationships help build strong alliances that insure a dependable supply of materials and support.

It’s not easy, but it is business!

Building relationships is hard work and calls for specialized support tools.  It’s easy to excuse oneself from attending to relationships.  It takes time away from the “core business”.  It requires “people skills” – which some lack or are unpracticed at.  And, it requires supporting tools (databases, communication programs, etc.) which are only available if management makes a substantial commitment to acquire them.  As a result, far too many managers/business owners simply excuse themselves from the obligation of focusing on relationship building.  Restaurateurs stay in the kitchen, architects adopt a “hard to get along with” persona, landscapers stay in their greenhouses.  Do all businesses fail because of their proprietors’ or managers’ poor relationship skills?  Of course not!  But none will be as great as they could have been, and many will falter without acknowledging the importance of conducting their businesses in a personalized manner.

I don’t just offer this philosophy as a theoretical point of view, I credit valuing people and building relationships with helping me and my wife create a very successful marketing consulting firm.  In the course of 20 years we retained a far greater proportion of our employees than the average; and we retained clients in an industry characterized by low client loyalty.  In both cases our success was based on our respect for individuals and our dedication to building strong relationships with them.  Products, prices and policies are rather easily imitated by competitors.  But established relationships take considerable time to form and are hard to break.

Despite the growing recognition of and focus on customer loyalty, far too many large organizations continue to distance themselves from the obligation of establishing personal relationships.  And, ironically, even small entrepreneurships excuse themselves from the need to conduct business on a personal basis.  Perhaps they’ve all come to believe that it is just business and need not be personal!

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