How sitting alone while drinking tropical drinks on Phi Phi island gave me insights on building relationships with customers.
First of all, let’s get this out of the way.
If you haven’t been to Phi Phi, and you have the means, book your trip now. The “dark side” where I had the pleasure of hanging out is quiet and chill. (I recommend “The Beach Resort“, it was awesome!)
The other side is for the more adventurous. Backpackers, partiers, Burning Man rejects… all apparently congregate on the other side of the island and it’s a bit more lively.
If you’ve ever seen the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio, then you know what Phi Phi looks like.
Fun Fact: most boats that take you to Phi Phi actually stop in the cove where that movie was filmed!
I’d also recommend, while on that side of the world, that you spend a little time in Hong Kong. It is by far my favorite Metropolitan city and 90% of the population speaks English for us lazy Americans… Go experience it. You won’t regret it.
That out of the way, let’s get to the story.
All Of Mankind Has One Common Bond, Mankind.
This article isn’t about me closing my first six-figure deal while schmoozing a potential client on a “business trip”. This particular story doesn’t really have to do with actual business.
It, more importantly, deals with the underlying bedrock of all business.
How do you build customer relationships?
Being able to connect with people is a skill that many think they don’t have.
You look at friends and coworkers that seem to click instantly with strangers, you get jealous. You think to yourself, “If I could only do that so freely, my world would be so different”.
Well, guess what, like anything else, it takes practice. Instead of burying your head in your phone while waiting for a plane, get to know your neighbor… you never know what connections you can make, especially at airports.
A Celtic Send Off.
To get to the actual story…
My friend and I had booked a night in Phi Phi because why not? After dinner, he decided to walk the beach and I decided to sit down at the tiny 3 stool bar right on the water.
The crystal blue water and lush greenery was the perfect setting for an ice cold Tiger beer. (Fantastic beer!!! And you can get it in the states now too!)
As I sat there minding my own, a gentleman about the same age made his way up to the bar. With barely enough room for you to move around to the back side where the open stools were, we had to exchange pleasantries for him to get by… since we’re both civilized, otherwise, it would have been VERY awkward.
As he ordered I detected an Irish accent. Now, I had been in Thailand for almost a week at this point, and most of the time you run into Americans pretending to be Canadian, or Aussies (Australians).
I found out that Thailand to Aussies is “like their Florida”.
To which I replied, “You obviously have never been to Florida”.
But this fair skinned, which had turned a bright and painful pink at this point, gent was clearly from the Emerald Isle.
Once he acquired his beverage, I turned and said “sláinte” while raising my bottle, he smiled, nodded and tapped his Leo (another beer found in Thailand) against my Tiger. (I just really wanted to say he tapped his lion [like Leo The Lion] against my tiger… but I’m getting sidetracked).
After a sip, we began to talk.
Over the course of the night, I found out that this was his last night on the island and that he was heading off to another Asian-Pacific Nation for the next leg of his 3-month tour.
He was traveling alone.
He loved playing the guitar.
He could drink… (and we did…)
He had spent most of his life doing manual labor jobs in his hometown.
He had seen the Isle Of Man TT race in person.
I learned so many new things about this person all by opening the door and extending a proverbial hand.
Taking a chance, and knowing a little bit about his culture, put both of us on common ground.
The night got fuzzier and fuzzier… which made my head hurt that much more in the morning… but if only for one evening, I had made a friend from half a world away.
How To Build Good Relationships With Customers, Focus On The Relationship.
This brings us back to the point.
I’ve met so many folks in marketing and small business, although the trend is changing, that are focused on the message. “They have to get what we offer, they have to know who we are…”
Every touch point is self-centered instead of client focused.
That’s all fine in due time, once you open the door, there will be plenty of time to tell them what you offer (…and by tell them what you offer, I mean explain how you integrate into building their bottom line).
The best business deals I’ve done have come off the back of me doing the research to find out what makes my prospect tick. Finding out what WE have in common. We’re all human, and we’re all the most important person in our lives.
Step out of your life, put them first, (which is what customers expect) watch your business grow.
The true value that you bring to any business relationship is just that. The relationship.
Get to know your clients… (it’s the fine are of customer service!)
This sounds creepy but stalk their social media. Know their families. Know their hobbies. Know when their birthdays are and do something special for it. It doesn’t have to be grandiose, a simple card and Starbucks gift card goes a LONG way.
Know that if you put the time in to build a strong relationship when they get another offer from another firm, agency, business, you have a pretty high chance of keeping that client since they’ll be loyal customers.
In fact, if you’ve done your job of building a rock-solid client relationship, they’ll tell you about the other teams’ pitch, and you can use it, or pivot to include what they found interesting!
It’s all about providing a connection along with an amazing customer experience!
Veterans Know Because Time Is A Great Teacher.
With all the automation in the world, it seems the one thing that grows businesses is focused on less.
When you can upload a spreadsheet and send out 1000’s of cold emails instantly, you’re bound to get a few responses.
But if you took the 3 extra minutes to understand who you’re talking to, listening to your customers and what they’re about, you’d see that conversion rate skyrocket!
As a business owner, when I send out a “cold” email, it’s packed with so much relevant and actionable information about their business, or issues in their business they may not have seen, that my reply rate is pretty damn close to 99%.
I show my potential client that I care from the start.
I don’t let them know that I have the best products or services… or “whatever”, and that they should work with me.
I simply reach out, connect, show them value, and start the conversation.
All this came from decades of trial and error, coupled with the privilege of being able to watch elders foster long-lasting and profitable business relationships.
When you focus strictly on the bottom line, it almost always ends up smaller than it could be.
Strong Customer Relationships Equal Profits.
If you can show that you care, you’ll keep your clients, gain their friends as clients through word of mouth, and enjoy a profitable business long term.
I’ve always been the one in my business’s to play the “relationship” role, but if you’re not that type of person, 1. learn to be that person, 2. LEARN TO BE THAT PERSON or 3. hire that person.
If you hire that person, let them foster and grow the goodwill between you and your clients. Either way, you need to grow so close that no offer will tear you apart. That the thought of losing you isn’t an option, and that it would be so difficult to pull apart your intertwined businesses that the effort just isn’t worth it.
Build better relationships, build a bigger business. Plain and simple.
If you’d like to start building a relationship, let me know.
Now, where did I put my little umbrella?
Adam is a digital veteran, early adopter, brand and business builder, and former unfulfilled Pog collector. (Actually, I’ve never owned Pogs.) With decades of knowledge and experience in online advertising and consumer behavior, he aims to spread the knowledge he’s collected with any and all who will listen. He’s also the creator of Painted Brick Digital in Scottsdale Arizona, an agency that helps clients push through the 8+ figure mark.