Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

When Company Fellowship Turns Fruitful

Every once in a while, our team takes a bit of time away from the busy schedules we all maintain for a get together. It’s not a big time commitment, but it gives us an opportunity to catch up with folks who may be in and out of the office a good bit. Today, we all had lunch.

It’s always encouraging to me when, after we’ve had some laughs about little league and vacation, the conversation moves toward team building. This is a particularly sharing group—if they’ve had a success, they want everyone else to know how so the success can spread. As I’ve said before, the sum of our work is far greater than the parts.

Here’s what came out of lunch today:

  • Today, retaining customers is more vital than ever.
  • We are in the service business, but we are also in the “experience business.” Conscious or not, our customers will rate their experience as good, bad or indifferent with every sale.
  • Make no mistake about it, cost is important more than ever. But if cost is the same, the experience factor is the new competitive differentiator.
  • Our customers are loyal to us when they receive value beyond the ordinary buy and sell.
  • The more extraordinary the value, the greater the loyalty.
  • It’s important to determine what the “value lever” for each of our individual customers. We’ve got customers who like a routine. Some want fast answers while others are looking for a personal touch. Most appreciate problem solving beyond the transaction. Whatever the individual value leveler, identify it and work to fulfill it.
  • Stay in touch. Communicate. Communicate in different ways: a short note, an e-mail, a phone call or a value suggestion is often appreciated. Smaller, more frequent connects will lead to longer relationships and loyalty.
Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.