How close should you be to your customers? In “Do Your Customers See You as a Personal Friend?”, a recent post on the Nextiva blog, Carol makes the case that you should be quite chummy. She begins:

How do customers perceive friendship? If you’ve ever visited a restaurant that leads you to your favorite booth by the window before asking if you want the usual, then you know. And, what do friends do? They stay in touch, forgive the occasional mishap — and keep coming back.

Your company can find ways to extend the hand of friendship to customers by thinking about what you value from your own besties. The following friendship tips apply equally well to personal relationships and commercial associations.

1. Be trustworthy

Trustworthiness is part of friendship (and the Scout motto), and you have to earn it. Friends know that they can count on each other; customers who trust you see your business as valuable and they spread the word to others who need your goods or services.

Naturally, customers trust you if you meet deadlines and provide high-quality products and services. And, if a blooper happens, customers expect their friend to happily correct it.

The unfortunate reputation of used car sales tactics has cast a shadow over all sales people, so establishing trust in your sales force is almost an art form. Even as you make sure that they purchase items that they really need, customers can learn to trust you when you stop them from buying unneeded items. So, don’t push them to buy blue shoes after they bought the red ones, but make sure that they have the batteries needed to run their new marching bunny.

2. Anticipate their needs

Get to know customers as well as you know your friends and make sure that you retain what you learn. The right data and software allows you to predict when it might be time for customers to reorder certain products or other related items.

If they ordered a three-month supply of widgets on March 1st, send out a reorder reminder well before June 1st. But, anticipating needs does not just apply to orders. If someone discovers a new use for widgets, safety tips or any other useful information, send that information to pertinent customers, along with a link to the article that explains the details – this truly boosts the customer experience

You can read the rest of the post here.