When your customers reflect upon your relationship, do they see you as a Partner or a Provider?
On some occasions, it doesn’t matter quite so much which of the two we are perceived to be, but more often than not it can have a significant impact on your image and reputation.
Say you’re making a simple transaction… buying a morning coffee or grabbing a train ticket.
In these instances, you don’t need any frills, you simply want the Provider to facilitate the transaction and deliver the service you went to them for.
But when it comes to a major purchase, such as implementing a new software for your business or installing a brand-new kitchen in your forever home, it’s a very different story.
People like to be guided.
We like to consult with experts.
Your customers want to be Partnered.
What’s the Difference Between a Partner and a Provider?
Now you might be asking yourself, what’s the difference?
Isn’t it all semantics? Surely I can be both…
Often, a Provider will make every customer interaction revolve around “me, myself and I”.
The focus will be orientated toward them as individuals, their goals and their objectives.
In other words, the Provider will present THEIR information, configure the interaction around THEIR goals and leave the customer to decide.
The inevitable end result being the customer doesn’t feel involved, considered or valued.
Critically for the customer, their aim ceases to become the priority.
By contrast, a Partner makes the customer’s goal their goal.
The information presented is relevant, and shared only after understanding the particular needs of the customer.
Likewise, a Partner puts the customer first, offering the solution best suited to their needs rather than self centred desires.
This is vital in building trust and working in collaboration helps to understand, develop and execute on projects for maximum customer satisfaction.
Why Does it Matter?
B2B or B2C, the distinction isn’t important.
True Partners will work with you or your business every step of the way.
They make it their mission to ensure that the end result which they provide to you will help you thrive and align with what you were looking to achieve.
Put yourself in their shoes.
You wouldn’t trust someone who has shown no interest in what you want, so why should your customers be any different?
So when a potential customer interacts with your business, do you want to be seen as a Provider, cold and clinical?
Or as a Partner, fully engaged in making their goal become a reality?
Making The Change
The right to call yourself a true Partner is not something that comes immediately, it needs to be earned, and continually reinforced throughout the customer lifecycle.
At the same time, we need to be realistic.
It’s important to accept that not every relationship has the potential to become a Partnership.
But it is our responsibility to do everything we can to be as valued to our customers as they are to us.
Here are 4 easy steps to take to achieve Partner status:
Be Honest, Respectful and Transparent
Put your goals aside; the focus is the customer and you need to make sure that they know that.
Look to the Long-Term, not just the Immediate Opportunity
A customer can, in some cases, buy more than once. Or at the very least can influence those around them through their lived experience.
Therefore, by dedicating the time to building a relationship, you can lay the foundations for future business as well as create the most powerful form of marketing, brand advocates.
Offer Solutions, not Problems
Rather than stonewall a potential client when your services don’t perfectly align; a Partner will offer a solution.
Collaboration allows for the best outcome for everyone to be discussed and fulfilled.
Invite Regular and Robust Feedback
Asking your customers to share their experience creates an opportunity for self reflection. In a fast paced environment, it can be easy to lose yourself in the flow and fail; to “come up for air”.
Only by doing so can you see the wood for the tress and make the necessary changes to prove your willingness to become more then a service Provider.
At Anthill we pride ourselves on being a Partner; collaboration is at the core of our business; the knowledge and expertise we bring comes as equal in value to our technology itself.
Would your customers say you are a Partner or a Provider? And what impact could it have to be one or the other?
Intrigued to learn more? Check out our Insights Hub to keep your business at the cutting edge.
March 2nd, 2021-