They go the extra mile and sometimes out the door

OPINION:

YOUR best staff go the extra mile for customers, sell more and generate more leads. They are also more likely to leave. So how do companies hold their best customer-facing employees?

Research indicates that the potential for personal well-being is a key factor.

Philosopher Lawrence Becker states that stable societies uphold norms of reciprocity. They exchange fairly, communicate problems without retaliation and make up for harm done.

Recently we asked 400 senior marketing managers to indicate the degree reciprocity is a norm in their business relationships.

Those upholding the norm had higher self-esteem, were more satisfied and experienced reduced conflict in client relationships.

The three outcomes are fundamental to our well-being. they are:

 Balance: It's in our nature to seek balance. It is also important in business. Payment for services aside, balance may also be a client returning because of the time and the effort in preparing a pitch or flexibility toward contract completion times in return for additional benefits.

 Expectation: we like to know how people respond to us. Commercial deals are complex enough without having to second guess every exchange. Long-term business partners require attention but they are less stressful as we have learnt the 'rules of engagement'.

 Self esteem: esteem develops through what we give and what we get. The act of reciprocity shows respect for one another. The sales manager going above and beyond the call of duty for his or her customer is doing so partly to show respect to their client and to earn respect in return.

Next time you are assessing your own or your staff's client relationships, ask: do you and your customers exchange fairly, communicate problems which arise without retaliation and make up for problems you cause one another?

If it's yes to all, then things are a little more personal and your good people have an additional reason to stay.

Simon Pervan is Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Southern Cross Business School, SCU



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