What Makes a Good Customer Great
At a recent meeting with a customer, an interesting question was posed by our contact. He asked us what they could do as a company to be a better customer. As a supplier, we are always thinking what can we do to please the customer, not necessarily the other way around. We were so caught off guard that we couldn’t answer at the time, but it got us thinking, what makes a great customer standout from an average one?
Obviously, if you asked a supplier for one thing they would want out of their client, it would be to raise prices. At the same time, if we asked the client for one thing he would ask the supplier for it would undoubtedly be to lower their prices. But we know that’s simply not realistic as neither side is just going to cave in that easily. Both the supplier and the customer are in the business of making money. But often overlooked is the reliance that exists between. There can’t be one without the other, like the chicken and the egg. A good business relationship is one where the supplier and the client create a mutually beneficial partnership. One that ensures neither side goes broke, but at the same time neither side is getting filthy rich. With this in mind, here are a few qualities that we think make a customer a “great customer”.
The first quality that came to mind was pretty cut and dry. Communication is key in almost anything. Whether it’s in a thriving marriage, playing sports and communicating on the field, or doing business with clients, communication is essential. Customers and suppliers should clearly state their expectations up front. If not, assumptions are made, and we all know the saying about making assumptions! Assumptions can be easily avoided if both the customer and the supplier are above the table during the entire process, that way surprises are avoided on both sides. But, the thing that makes a good customer better than just an average customer is the communication doesn’t stop once the deal is made. Both sides communicate throughout the entire relationship and process. And it’s not always about business. People talk about life outside of work too. With that said, communication is the most important factor to a good customer.
The next quality that makes up a good customer almost spring-boards off communication; trust and transparency. Like mentioned above, the customer as well as the supplier, should be up front with everything, as well as communicate throughout the entire process, i.e. transparency. Being transparent with the supplier will ease and rid of any questions the supplier might have, and therefore a foundation of trust can start to be built. In the end, both the supplier and the customer are engaged in business, which means both sides are trying to make the best deal to make them the most money. The customer must trust that the supplier has their best interests at stake, and have a mutually beneficial sale benefitting both sides.
Another quality that once again goes together with transparency and trust is commitment. What is meant by this is that if we as a supplier are going to utilize our time, labor, machines, etc. for the client, a good client would reciprocate that commitment. They would do this by giving us as a supplier their time by seeing more of their projects, being the first company to see a bid for a project, and even opening doors for us to other companies that might be a good fit. They would introduce us to other people within the organization and give us every opportunity to grow our business with them.
The final quality is probably the easiest, yet most overlooked of any of the others. A simple “thank you” can go a long way and it is the calling card of the best customers. Suppliers jump through hoops all the time to ensure their customers are hppy. Just a quick “thank you” makes all that work and going the extra mile worth it.
After some thought and time to brainstorm, we were able to come up with an answer for our contact on what we believe makes a customer great. Doing all the things we talked about definitely will help you as a customer stand out from the crowd. When it’s all said and done, most of the qualities we talked are somewhat common sense. Yet, customers utilizing all the qualities will surely be set apart from the customers only doing one or none of the things we talked about.