If you could create the ideal relationship with your customer, it probably would look more like the relationships you have with your best friend, your husband, wife, mother or father. It would be a relationship built on mutual understanding, respect and empathy — not one set in the context of annual reviews and the ever-present threat of being fired.
Now think of how your best relationships are built. They take time and nurturing. You know the perfect gift for your wife, not because she told you what she wants (although that does help), but because you know her. You listen to her. You understand the nuances of her life — her likes and dislikes; what turns her on and what turns her off. Your understanding of her is both intimate and instinctual.
Ask yourself, is this the relationship you have with your customer? Do you know your customer as well as you know your wife? Your best friend? Yourself?
Ironically, you probably know your customer as well as you know your boss. Maybe you have a quarterly update or annual review? But you probably spend most of your time guessing what she wants and what you need to do to succeed. This is no way to grow a business (or build a career for that matter).
Instead of thinking of your customer as your boss, think of her as your wife or best friend. Listen to her. Engage. Get intimate with her. Get to know her better than anyone and you’ll be more likely to make her happier than anyone.
*The excellent relationship I have with my boss notwithstanding 🙂