Growing Customer Partnerships Webinar Recap

Yesterday’s installment of the IPC Executive Webcast Series, “Growing Customer Partnerships in the Current Economy,” was presented by Joe O’Neil, president, Hunter Technology Corp., Santa Clara, Calif.

Two years ago, Hunter Technology changed the way it approaches customer relationships from a traditional customer/supplier model to one that more closely represents a partnership. O’Neil says this new approach was a significant factor in Hunter having its strongest first quarter since the business’s inception in 1968.

Here are 8 key ideas from O’Neil’s presentation on creating partnerships with customers:

1. “For a partnership to exist, it has to be a collaborative piece between two groups,” says O’Neil. Collaboration requires both parties to acknowledge that they share risks, responsibilities, resources, competencies and benefits with one another.

2. Understand your customers’ needs, and know their plans and aspirations. When you have knowledge of your customers’ technology roadmaps and outsourcing strategies, you can make informed choices for your business such as staffing and equipment investments.

3. Your customers should know where your business stands, too. “We’ve been very upfront about what our aspirational goals are in terms of growth, in terms of profitability,” says O’Neil.

4. Have frank discussions about potential conflicts of interest. Both parties needn’t have the same goals but their aspirations should be harmonious.

5. Trust must be at the core of your partnerships. Never enter into a partnership where you need a contract. Never enter a partnership without a contract.

6. Peer-to-peer relationships between employees of both organizations are the underpinnings for relationships between two companies—from purchasing and accounting staff to COOs and CEOs. “One of the key pieces in getting this done is [having] multiple levels of relationships,” O’Neil says.

7. Pay attention to the health of your customers’ businesses. If your customer wins an award, your company should be excited for them. If your customer runs into a rough patch, it should be seen as a challenge for your business, too. “If our customers are doing well, then our internal metrics are almost secondary to that,” O’Neil says.

8. There are immense opportunities for companies that nurture relationships with their customers. “New customers are readily available and we should all ask ourselves why they’re readily available,” O’Neil says. Each day presents new opportunities to build or erode trust with your customers. Companies that can “follow through” on their promises will reap the rewards.

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