How to build business relationships that last
Start and end strong
The quality of an experience or a relationship is often defined by the first impression and remembered by the last impression. That is the essence of this maxim.
In project-based work like ours, a strong start is critical because the customer may be slightly uneasy having just made a significant buying decision. To keep them (as well as their managers and employees) supportive and enthusiastic we must move quickly and efficiently from the start and generate some early, quick results. A strong finish is also critical because we want the customer to remember the experience fondly so they will refer us to other organizations or bring us back in if and when the occasion requires.
This maxim is true of any customer experience, even small or short-lived ones. Both the initial impact and the lasting impression should be positive.
For a slightly advanced take on this maxim: The maxim was in part derived from some insights we learned while working for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel company. They manage the customer’s experience based on what they call “The Three Steps of Service,” which are: Warm welcome, anticipate needs, and fond farewell. Besides starting and ending strong, the Ritz-Carlton adds a third dimension which addresses the time in between arriving and departing, which they call “anticipate needs.” They have developed many processes to try to improve the guest experience by anticipating what is needed before it is requested. It is one of the underlying principles that help define and drive the behaviors of their organization.