Every credible business knows the value of partnerships and collaboration, but with time and money often at a premium, how much effort and resources should be invested in cultivating outside relationships?
According to Krishnan Chatterjee, VP of Indian IT firm HCL, building these relations should now be an absolute priority for the modern company.
To hear why, and crucially how, these relationships can be built, we probed Chatterjee for his insight and experience in the area.
TechRadar Pro: In an increasingly competitive world, what is it that makes or breaks a company-client relationship?
Krishnan Chatterjee: It's easy to underestimate the impact relationships can have on an organisation's bottom line. The truth of the matter is that without robust, sustainable business relationships underpinning all of the day-to-day business, organisations would see a notable downward shift in their revenues.
By far the most important way to strengthen these relationships is to build them by going above and beyond the narrow restrictions of your contract.
Of course, it's easy to point at agreed deliverables and adhere to these and nothing else, but the truly successful organisations are those who are prepared to go the extra mile to deliver added value beyond their agreed deliverables.
TRP: What can companies do to go 'the extra mile' for their clients?
KC: There are a number of ways to achieve this, including offering customers greater flexibility in terms of time or resources, or even by investing resources in providing additional activity that isn't included in an service level agreement.
The service level agreement gives you the baseline of what your clients or business partner is expecting – it's what is not mentioned in the contract that will truly add value to the relationship.
Show them that you are thinking about them by sending useful information, pointing out interesting articles or events or just by giving them a call to touch base and catch up on the latest developments.
Taking the relationship beyond the contract can literally mean just that – interacting with the client outside the workspace. This will help you to get to know your client better, and open up more opportunities to increase the value of your relationship.
TRP: How can going 'the extra mile' help to create a competitive advantage for companies?
KC: Once companies are able to go beyond the contract in terms of delivery, satisfaction and performance, they'll find that they are able to earn the most valuable commodity of all: trust.
If customers believe that heaven and earth will be moved to help them, it demonstrates that the relationship is strong enough to ensure that they will do the same to stay with the company. What's more, it may even persuade a few others to work with the you.
TRP: How can social media help to build relationships with clients and business partners?
KC: Social media is no longer just a source of information or communication between friends. Social media has long since acquired the role of a marketing, sales and acquisition tool that helps companies to not only build their corporate image but also connect with clients and business partners.
With social media, barriers such as geography or opening times are no longer an issue – the internet has us connected 24/7 and gives us the opportunity to stay in touch at any time of the day.
Social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook provide the ideal platform to build trust within your community by posting helpful information, giving tips and participating in discussions.
Actively engaging with the community creates added value for clients and businesses that can give a company a crucial competitive advantage.