It’s Not About the Transaction- it’s About the Relationship

two businessmen shaking handsI changed auto insurance providers and agents recently.

I’ve been with the same insurer for about 8 years. My most recent agent “inherited” me after my previous agent retired. I’ve never seen her in person. Never spoken to her on the phone. The last contact I had with her office was the certified letter she sent to tell me my homeowner’s insurance was being canceled.

I decided that it might also be time to change my auto insurance coverage, since the same company had insured our home and vehicles.

I had met another insurance agent at a women’s professional organization several months earlier- Christine Crowell of Crowell Insurance Group. We had been out for coffee a handful of times over the past year and developed a friendship. I liked her so much, I WANTED to give her my business. So I did. I wound up with better coverage at a lower price.

I called the previous agent to say I had gone with another insurer, and they asked which insurer I had gone with. I told them, and they said, “Oh, we write policies with them, too. But I guess you didn’t know that.”

I didn’t. But even if I had, I likely would have changed agents anyway, because for me, doing business is about more than the transaction; it’s about the relationship.

I enjoy doing business with people I have a relationship with. And although I feel a connection to Black and Brew, the coffee shop whose owner knows me by name, it’s not just face-to-face relationships that count in my book, nor in the minds of many other consumers.

I feel as though I have relationships with many business people in this county, thanks to social media. I am Facebook friends with Realtors, welders, A/C companies and boutiques. I follow carpet cleaners, developers and restaurants on Twitter.

Had there been any type of relationship with my previous insurance agent, I might have continued doing business with her. But we’ve certainly never gone out for coffee, and if she has a Facebook page or Twitter account, I don’t know about it. The only interaction I ever had with her was when she wanted to sell me more insurance, or tell me my carrier was dropping my homeowners coverage. Neither of those were pleasant experiences for me.

Business owners, I share this in hope that you will understand this: you need to be engaged with your customers. They need to feel as though you care about and value their business. No, you’re not going to take each and every customer out to lunch. Maybe you’ll never know all of them by name.

But with social media, there’s just no excuse for not making an effort. Get a Twitter account. Create a Facebook fan page for your business. Claim your business on foursquare and/or SCVNGR and create rewards and incentives for customers to come to your establishment.

Why? Because doing business is about relationships. The Internet has created countless additional ways in which to build a rapport with your clients. You might as well take advantage of it… your competition is.

If you would like more information about how to use social media in your company, call our Lakeland public relations firm. We can help.

6 Responses for It’s Not About the Transaction- it’s About the Relationship

  1. Lorrie,

    Excellent post. Building a relationship with your clients makes sense on so many levels.

    1. You enjoy your business more as you become close to the people you service.

    2. It’s much cheaper to retain your existing clients than to recruit new ones.

    3. By listening to your customers and encouraging them to deliver feedback, you learn ways to better serve them and most likely find other services they’re willing to have you do for them.

    I’m always amazed at the lengths a company will go to market to new customers yet they do an awful job of keeping their existing clients happy.

    One more thing regarding social sites such as Facebook and Twitter. They’re called “SOCIAL NETWORKING” for a reason. Unless you make the effort of getting to know the people in your online community, it doesn’t matter how many Twitter followers or Facebook fans you have.

    Keep up the good work and I want to see your new office soon.

  2. Stephanie Boggs says:

    I definitely agree with you, the relationship with your clients is of utmost importance. Especially with all the technology available, businesses have no excuses for not getting more involved with their clients. Positive interaction with customers makes such a big differences when it comes to keeping clients, and getting future business. A personal example for me is that my friends and I go to Applebee’s at least once a week now, simply because of a manager who always makes sure to talk to us and interact on a personal level. Had the manager just walked on by the first time we visited the establishment, we wouldn’t have had any real reason to go back, especially not on such a regular basis.

  3. This is the first time I have looked at your website. It is awesome, and very pertinent to todays business world. To have had an agent that “never” took the time to meet you personally is totally un-excusable. You are the reason they have the business they have (or had). Our clients are the most important asset there is. I have made many good friends, through connections with my clients. I simply could not operate any differently. Sorry, you had such a bad experience.