Almost no relationship can survive without trust, be it a business or a personal relationship. And I think of meaningful, long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships here. Business relationships come with their contracts and legal stipulations, but in the end, if nothing more than papers support such a partnership, it will never allow any of the parties to make the best of their collaboration. And if the financial part is what drives some, they should think of a maximum profit, not of just some profit.
So, which are the first things you should do to build a trust-based relationship?
Get to know eachother
Getting to know your partners implies two aspects: getting to know eachother’s business processes and customers and making sure you provide and receive all needed information. But keep in mind both aspects are ongoing. It’s not all over after the first couple of days of collaboration.
Why is this so important? An example could make everything a lot clearer. Let’s take a car insurance company and a repair shop for a certain car brand (usually if a car is offered a warranty, the driver is bound not to go to other repair shops). Such companies always close partnerhsips to help customers get their car repaired faster by speeding documents and money transfers.
Now let’s also focus on an average customer. The customer has some car troubles. The car is pretty hard to drive, as its steerign and ABS systems have been affected. The driver gets to the insurance company, obtains a damage evaluation and the needed paperwork and is then sent to the repair shop. Which he does immediately, as such issues need to be addressed fast.
When he gets to the shop, he finds out he needs to first schedule the car and that it will take over a month (the car cannot be used first because of the damage and second because the law requires all repairs to be made in 30 days after the incident and the drivers risks getting a nice fine). Now, when he asks why wasn’t the insurance company informed that repairs need a prior date booking, the repair shop representative says its not his place to inform them.
Who’s is it? Logically, the customers should do it if they feel like it. Most of the times, they don’t like doing it as they pay to get goods, services and information. What will the customer do? Choose a different car brand with better repair services. Possibily also a different insurance company, as he or she might think they could have tried to get more details on the repair shop.
If you have a partner that you trust, you also believe they will be open to suggestions. You know your customers and how you interact with them best. And probably your partner would be able to provide value added services if they knew all the fact. If they did not ask a certain question, but a customer of their, directed to you, did, you could further inform them.
When you sign a collaboration agreement, your partners’ customers become your potential customers and vice-versa. You cannot take either for granted. Otherwise your retention indicators will keep going down.