Customer Experience News & Trends

5 core principles that form outstanding customer relationships

Business success today is dependent upon developing mutually beneficial relationships that create shared value, solve mutual problems, and get both salespeople and customers to a place of “we” rather than the usual “us vs. them” tug of war.

Here are five core principles that form the basis of a trusting relationship:

  1. Reciprocity obligates salespeople and customers to make fair and balanced exchanges. If one party accepts a business risk, the other party does the same. If one party invests time and money in a project, the other party is prepared to reciprocate. Reciprocity ensures a fair allocation of obligations, risks and rewards. Without it, there is no win-win situation.
  2. Autonomy allows salespeople and customers to make their own decisions, free from the power of the other. Without autonomy, power struggles may develop, with one party demanding unilateral concessions or shifting known risks to the other party. These types of power plays prevent salespeople and customers from making rational decisions that are in the best interests of the relationship. With the principle of autonomy in place, salespeople and customers are free to bring the best of their problem-solving skills to the table.
  3. Integrity means consistency in decision-making and in actions by both customers and salespeople. Integrity preserves the relationships because it promotes trust between customers and salespeople. People want to be able to rely on each other to make the same decision and to take the same action in the same set of circumstances. They want to know they will get the same result from the same set of actions. If integrity is not demonstrated by both parties, it’s almost impossible to develop a long-term relationship.
  4. Loyalty obliges customers and salespeople to be loyal to the relationship. The principle of loyalty is used to allocate risk and rewards, burdens and benefits between customers and salespeople while always keeping the focus on what is best for the relationship. A revenue-maximizing solution that benefits only one party is not an example of loyalty. A solution that incurs the least costs for the relationship is a better example of loyalty.
  5. Equity is important to maintain harmony and trust in a relationship. By defining equity, each party takes responsibility for keeping the relationship in balance. It obliges customers and salespeople to share the rewards in proportion to their contributions, resources invested and risks taken. It may prevent tensions from arising in the relationship because equity addresses inequalities that arise over time. It keeps the relationship in balance by not allowing one party to win at the other’s expense.

Adapted from: “Getting to We,” by Jeanette Nyden, Kate Vitasek and David Frydlinger. Nyden teaches negotiation classes at Seattle University. Vitasek is best-selling author and David Frydlinger is a contract negotiation consultant.

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