Collaborating with Customers

Collaboration is important not just because it’s a better way to learn. The spirit of collaboration is penetrating every institution and all of our lives. So learning to collaborate is part of equipping yourself for effectiveness, problem solving, innovation and life-long learning in an ever-changing networked economy”.Don Tapscott

When we speak about collaborating with customers, we are including also, customer loyalty. When companies practice the art of including customers in aspects of their business, they encourage passion and commitment. This engagement then leads to brand advocacy – the most potent and powerful promotion, that brings huge benefits for any company. We believe that the most effective way of collaborating with customers is to focus on creating and building a robust rapport with them since such bonds breed trust and likeability. This manner of collaborating with customers is more durable than any written commitment or agreement to work together. It is more beneficial for companies to build a relationship with customers based on respect, care, admiration and goodwill – every other bond or document would possibly pale in comparison.

The focus on collaborating with customers must begin within a company. Leaders must inspire such cooperation by inculcating a culture of customer focus and service. Everyone within the company should understand the value of the customer’s business and association and know the impact of even a single customer deflecting to a competitor. This knowledge should encourage each person to remain humble and courteous while dealing with customers. It makes customers feel wanted and important, which in turn increases trust and dependability. As long as customers can trust a company, they would come back with more business and persuade others to do so too. Collaborating with customers is all about giving them what they want. The best way to know what customers want is to ask them directly – it makes them feel in control of the association and makes them more amenable to provide ideas and feedback for new products and services and ways to improve whatever currently exists. Collaborating with customers should translate to positive impact for the customers and their business.

The goal of any business should be to work together with customers in a manner that helps both sides and ensures success. The company’s leadership must remain actively involved in collaborating with customers, which would serve as an example that all others within the company would follow. The exchange of ideas and expression of viewpoints must be encouraged within the organization – this serves a two-fold purpose. One, it helps employees to grow and feel valued and two the flow of ideas would help a company to come up with innovative ways to serve and collaborate with customers. A company’s commitment towards collaborating with customers will ensure reciprocation from customers since they too would like to engage with a company, which understands them completely.

Collaborating with customers is imperative from any aspect of business since it enables a company to understand their needs, desires and preferences – the fulfilment of which would make the customers and the company successful. An understanding of what customers truly want would enable the company to create personalized offerings and service, which would pave the path towards a mutually satisfying association with positive impacts for both. The more involved a company seems in helping customers achieve their goals, the more likely would customers be in providing repeat business, great testimonials and a never ending supply of referrals. Collaborating with customers would ensure close relationships with them leading them to become allies / advocates for the company and the business for a very long time. Does your company invest time and effort in finding new ways of collaborating with customers? How successful have those efforts been? The most important aspect of such collaboration is the support / service a company provides to its customers. The customer service staff must be truly empowered to do whatever it takes to satisfy and delight the customers, anticipate and remove any problems and overall provide the kind of support and collaboration that customers would find value-added.

As we have discussed several times, there would be several customers that face the same challenges, have similar preferences, require similar information and data and can be grouped together basis other such similarities. Doing so would make it simpler for companies to collaborate with them basis their particular requirements, paving the way for customers to be confident that the company understands what they need and would be able to do so in the future as well. The true essence of collaborating with customers is that the customer’s business and life run smoothly due to the association and this in turn translates to an increase in revenue and profits for the company.

Any kind of new business imperative would need investment – time, effort and money – on the part of the company. However, when the collaboration gets initiated and is based on what the customer needs, the benefits would far outweigh the investments. Companies that think long-term and maintain a customer-centric approach would be able to help customers without the need for them to continually seek service and make innumerable calls / connections. Such investment in collaboration would increase future business and make brand ambassadors of customers. As the ‘good word’ about a company spreads, attracting new business and customers would be a much easier task.

Collaborating with customers is also about taking their ideas and using them to better the products and services offered by the company. It is about getting them actively involved in the ‘designing’ of processes, strategies and products and even with ideas on how the business should run. The inter-change of ideas could lead to some breakthrough ideas that would not only benefit the customers but also portray the company as a thought leader and an expert on customer care. Studies and research on the subject of collaborating with customers show that those companies have benefited that made such working together a business imperative and invested in tools to enhance collaboration. People within the organizations learnt to work together better, help each other and contribute to the success of one another and that of the company. In learning to collaborate with customers, companies have been able to enhance their own organizational efficiencies.

Great service complemented by high-class products and services make for happy customers. Such customers are more likely to want to collaborate enthusiastically with companies, making it a win-win situation for both. No company can disregard the importance of a loyal and delighted customer base. Despite all the efforts to work towards providing customers all that they need, every business at some stage would face the challenge of unhappy and even irate customers. Such customers are opportunities and a chance to exhibit the company’s commitment with more fervour and rigour. By treating them with respect and speedily sorting out their problems, the possibility of such customers becoming loyal and extremely grateful is very high and chances of long-term collaboration is almost certain.

Collaborating with customers and within the organization, affords a company many opportunities to put together ideas that would help them stay relevant and successful in a highly competitive and uncertain business environment. Not doing so could mean the decline and ‘demise’ of a company, with no chances of revival.

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