Have you noticed that we often don't talk about successful relationships? We'll discuss what not to do. Or we'll learn from others' challenges, crises, or tragedies. Or we'll learn how to improve relationships. But we rarely talk about what a great relationship with someone else looks like and learn from others' successes. I think people need to have a vision of what a great relationship looks like to get onto the right path to successful relationships, but it's so hard to find.
I did hear of one social media crisis communications success at a conference. Southwest Airlines shared how they handled a system outage. Total brilliance on their part. They shared "what to do" rather than "what not to do" or "what to do via what not to do." The session was so impactful because they were sharing their success.
However, if sharing stories about successful relationships and communications were more common, I think we'd see more headlines like:
- Married for 50 years. Learn how they did it.
- How my best friend and I weathered ups and downs for 80 years.
- I was a happy customer of this company for 20 years. Here's how they treated me.
- We have customers for years. Let us tell you how we did it.
Usually, companies that have successful relationships will see this as a competitive edge and won't share how they maintain happy customer relationships. They may give tips to others to improve existing relationships, but they rarely share advice for how to approach them, nurture them, and give insights into what makes relationships great.
Some who are great at relationships simply live in the moment and enjoy them. They accept this as part of life and don't even realize that they are good at them. (This is rare, but these people exist.) Some have insights into why these relationships work. These people typically have great boundaries, little drama, and are generally happy. Sadly, these people don't share their relationship insights. Some think we all have this skill, while we struggle and admire their ease and grace when interacting with others.
For those of us who are challenged by what makes a great relationship, we may wonder why we don't get more advice. I know I sometimes do. Here are 5 reasons why I think that doesn't happen often. I’m sure there are more and would love to hear your perspective.
- People in happy relationships usually don’t share all of the details. They usually just enjoy the relationship and living. Rather than thinking about a great relationships, they enjoy being in it. If you notice, someone who is blissfully in love doesn’t feel the need to share that information with others. It’s just part of his or her life. Someone with a great friendship will share this with others, but again, there isn't a need to prove the connection. It’s also true regarding a client relationship. People may give advice when asked, but most don’t. They know that relationships are complicated and enjoy what they have.
- Each relationship is unique. People in successful relationships know that they are based between the people involved, making each relationship different. The type, structure, and level of connectedness for a relationship changes for all parties involved. There are no two relationships the same. This is why it’s so hard to give advice for a relationship - each one is technically new and different. There are similarities based on personalities and traits, but none are 100% the same. So how do you tell someone what to do in a certain situation, really? One approach may work for you, but fail miserably for someone else.
- There is no way to compare relationships. There are no baselines. There are no comparisons. Everyone who is involved in any relationship is different and each relationship is unique. With that said, how do you give advice on something that isn’t like anything else in the world?
- It’s hard to replicate a good relationship. See #2. It’s because people are unique and value different things in other people. It’s hard to experience similar feelings and emotions with someone else. So maybe you don’t replicate it to begin with?
- Actions are only part of the relationship equation. If doing certain tasks and deeds gave you a great relationship, I'm sure we'd all be successful. But tasks and deeds are only part of the relationship equation. Being is just as important as doing when you are in a relationship. And people who have great relationships know this. But what does that all mean? That's the hard part.
So why do I keep writing about creating great relationships if people who have them don't give advice about them? I think we need a vision or model of what makes a great relationship - the qualities, the interactions, the behaviors. We learn this from daily life, but wouldn't it be great to have a better idea of why relationships work?
I also think that a great relationship is the result of a memorable experiences online or offline. You show your company’s personality and brand through an interaction, or an experience, with a customer. Those experiences are an opportunity to connect with them.
We tend to talk about the transactional element of relationships and their related success metrics because it's easier and more concrete to talk about, "This [activity] worked for me - I got ##% more [actions/transactions]." That's great, but that's only part of the relationship. We don't really talk about the emotional drivers and aspects of the connection or how to know what's working. That's where the true bonding happens. And we need to address that.
People don't feel a connection to you because you or they completed an activity. Connections include more than that.
Actions speak louder than words. Actions are as communication signals; words reinforce those messages; emotions and feelings are the result. They all need to be consistent if you want to build a great customer relationship. That's the first step to build a connection emotionally. And there are more to follow.
You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.