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Are you in a bad relationship?

Are you in a bad relationship? You know the warning signs.

  • Poor communication: It seems like they don’t listen to you at all, but they expect you to hang on their every word.
  • Lack of trust: You feel like they are hiding stuff from you. They lie about what they are up to and aren’t honest about their mistakes.
  • Disrespect: They treat you like you’re not important, while flirting with new people. It’s practically impossible to get them to do the littlest thing for you.
  • Controlling: They tell you what to do or how to act, or maybe even threaten and intimidate you to get their own way.

I’m in a relationship like that right now. With my cable company.

Oh, there are a lot of excuses for staying. Maybe the relationship started out great, so you’re hanging on for the sake of the good old days. Perhaps you don’t feel like you have any other options. After all, isn’t a bad relationship better than none at all? And who’s to say that the next one will be any better? Maybe this is all you deserve. Plus, leaving is complicated and, frankly, expensive.

The truth is that business relationships are just like other relationships. In order to succeed they require give and take. They are built on honesty, trust, respect and commitment. If you don’t have that kind of relationship with your customers then they will dump you the when something better comes along.

Brands like Zappos (which has one of the highest customer loyalty ratings of any company) understand the value of good relationships. They grew from a million dollars in sales to a billion dollars in just nine years, all on word-of-mouth.

It makes you wonder:

  • What effect could better customer relationships have on your company?
  • What would happen if your customers started recruiting for you instead of looking for opportunities to dump you?
  • What steps could you take (even tiny ones) to listen better, be more transparent in your business practices, and show your customers a little bit of appreciation for their loyalty?

About Rick

Rick Scherle is a founder and Senior Managing Partner at Zoe Street.

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