by Jeanne Chapman
More than 25 years – that’s how long we’ve been working with Interval International, a leader in the timeshare exchange business for vacationers worldwide. Reflecting back on our relationship, we’ve built a mutual respect and have always found a way to make the partnership work for both of us.
With the new year upon us, it is a fitting time to look back and identify just what makes these relationships work over time. I’ve found over the many years working with our clients that successful relationships generally center around three key elements.
1) Deeply understand your client’s business – From the beginning of any client relationship, you make it your business to thoroughly understand their business. You become a valuable resource and subject matter expert that adds value to the product or service that you provide. Interval’s business is highly competitive and complex, serving several key stakeholders that include their members as well as their developer partners. We needed to understand all of the stakeholders, key opportunities and pain points and subsequently respond to them with workable solutions when challenged by their customers. Understanding your client’s world helps you become a better partner and, also, leads to identifying opportunities where you can help them grow their business.
2) Challenge yourself to think about things differently – Sometimes when relationships have this type of longevity, you can get comfortable and fall into a routine. But, in today’s digital age, what worked yesterday will not work tomorrow. And, with some client/customer relationships, ideas and programs can become stale. As a true partner, it is your job to challenge yourself and your team to think differently. They can be small tweaks in a program to keep it fresh and exciting. Or, you can identify new trends that support larger and more innovative changes. One of my favorite quotes is from Marcel Proust who promotes the idea that, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” So, try to look at things differently.
3) Remove friction – Being a great partner to our clients means living in their shoes. We want to be the one they can count on in times of need. We need to remove barriers, make their life easier and help solve their problems. However, at times, there is tension, inflexibility, operational challenges, all things I like to call – friction. I’m always of the mind that we can work something out. Whether it be adding value to their program, addressing outliers uniquely, creating specialized integrations or offering a favor here and there. There’s always a creative solution if you’re open to compromise. Removing friction is key to great, long-lasting client relationships. It’s been an essential part of our partnership with Interval as we’ve managed through our companies’ growth over the years.
Working with a client like Interval gives me great pride. These cornerstone tenets of a great relationship are the basis of Entertainment’s business and the key to our success in working with the many Fortune 1000 companies over our 50-plus years in business.