How to Maintain Relationships with Online Partners

Posted by Lasantha Bandara on September 25th, 2018 File Under : internet0 Comment

Business-to-business companies know the importance of maintaining healthy customer relationships. It’s more expensive to acquire customers than to retain them, so keeping everyone happy and continuing to work smoothly together saves both parties a significant amount of time and money. When it comes to the e-commerce space, though, cultivating those relationships can be tricky. If you only ever communicate online because you are hundreds of miles apart, adding personal touches like lunches and sending flowers that your brick-and-mortar counterparts get to do becomes challenging. There are other ways to be a good partner, so here are some tips for staying close with online vendors and customers.

Respect their intelligence

Businesses that interact with consumers more often than other companies do not always know their customers’ level of expertise in their industry. B2B organizations, however, can be more technical with one another. Do not be afraid to give your partners more information than they ask for: odds are they will appreciate it, and you will not have to worry about altering your language to be generic. Go ahead and let your vendors and customers relish in all that you know (you may spare yourself from sending dozens of emails and calls). When you respect their intelligence, all parties can be more productive.

Pay them on time

When it comes to your suppliers, paying them on time can often feel like a hassle. Paper checks take a while to arrive via mail (and there is always the potential to get lost), and card or ACH transactions can take several days to process. Is there something more immediate you can use? Both you and your suppliers will appreciate the convenience. Thankfully, there are solutions such as eChecks, like those from Deluxe. They work like their paper counterparts, but all you need to do is email them and avoid a trip to the bank or extended third-party verification processes.

Listen to what they have to say

Just because your business is virtual does not mean you and your customers need to be impersonal with one another, limiting friendliness to smiley faces and exclamation points in messages. You can involve them much more closely with a seat on your customer advisory board.

This group does not need to be large. Instead, ask individuals from other organizations that you get along with well to participate, and keep them in the loop whenever your business makes a decision that may affect them indirectly. When it comes to actions that will impact them directly, make sure you listen to their opinions and request help with decision-making. Maybe you can create a Slack channel for communication, or regularly meet up through conference calls and video chat. Treat your customer advisory board like confidants: when your partners see how much you care to include them, your relationship will be much stronger.

Participate in each others’ content strategy

If you want to make your alliances public, you and your partners can get involved with each other’s content strategies. Retweet and share your suppliers’ and customers’ social media posts and ask them to share your own. Whenever your partners have something good happening, get excited for them on your channels. Maybe you can even come to an arrangement where you guest write on one another’s blogs or newsletters (you are probably familiar enough with your partners’ businesses and customer bases to do so, and it will help you tap into their audiences).

Solve problems the old-fashioned way (or as close as you can)

When conflicts arise, you need to avoid lashing out at your suppliers and customers. Emily T. Brackstone, a corporate law attorney, says:

“Getting the parties together face-to-face in a room can often go a long way toward clearing the air. People will often behave badly over email, or even over the phone, but suddenly become much more reasonable when they are sitting across the table form the person. Be strategic about who is included in the meeting, however, as including someone with bad energy or a domineering personality can set the wrong tone.”

When you are an e-commerce business, however, in-person meetings may not be possible. It is wise to keep Brackstone’s advice about email and phone conversations in mind, so you can resort to video conferences as the next-best thing. Make sure that you and your partners can look each other in the eye to stay level-headed—your relationship will be stronger for it.

Cultivating healthy relationships with suppliers and customers when you are online businesses can be challenging to navigate, but consistent communication can keep your alliances healthy. How will you maintain relationships with online partners?

 

File Under : internet

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