Guest Column | September 10, 2012

Creating Healthy Customer-VAR Relationships

Tom Cates headshot

By Tom Cates, president, The Brookeside Group

How do you measure a healthy customer relationship?
Healthy customers are always looking to expand and improve the relationship because they enjoy working with you. If a customer is exploring a new line of business, do they call you first? Receiving the “first call” when your customer has a question or needs to place an order is a strong indicator of a healthy relationship. Securing the No. 1 spot on speed dial enables you to add value from the start and work with them through to the end. In a strong customer- VAR relationship, the customer deliberately ignores the competition, actively refers business to you and provides helpful feedback.

What are the signs of an unhealthy business relationship (and how do you fix it)?
One word that you never want to hear from a customer is “fine.” The word “fine” is an indicator that the customer does not want to engage in conversation and something is wrong. Think about the customers with whom you have healthy relationships. They are happy to provide all of the information necessary for you to do your job well. When you notice that the conversation becomes limited or the lines of communication become weak, chances are your customer is unhappy and could be on the road to defection.