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I am coming off of one of the most extraordinary weekends — one that I will remember for the rest of my life. A little backstory:

My wonderful fiancé, Laurel, was adopted at birth and grew up knowing very little about her birth mother and nothing of her birth father. As most adoptions were “closed” back in the day, any request for information or contact went through the courts. An early overture to the birthmother was rejected and no information was listed about the father. The mom was unwilling and the dad unknown.

Flash forward 49 years from her birth, and some simple saliva in a DNA kit from AncestryDNA and the world opened up. Hundreds — thousands of DNA relatives were
staring at her from her computer screen. Most profound and life-changing was the name of her father staring back at her — and a brother as well!

With access to Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media, circumventing any need for court intervention, contact was soon made.  After careful, sensitive revelation, this long-awaited truth was brought to light. Her father never knew she existed and her 39 year-old brother was no longer an only child.

Two months of texts, emails and phone calls, culminated in a flight to Nashville, where Laurel and I met her father Tom, his wonderful wife Margie and her brother Matt. The tears flowed, conversation was easy and the laughter was genuine. To say it was magical would be an understatement. (See video clip below).

To be clear, we know that we’ve won the lottery here. There is no script for a scenario such as this and either side could have been a disappointment, rejected the overture or even sought to exploit the connection for personal gain. To the contrary, we have discovered a connection to the most lovely people, with deep goodness, accepting hearts, irreverent, authentic laughter and open arms. We have no doubt that we have begun the journey of a life-long relationship.

Business relationships can often take the same course. The initial connection can be intentional, well planned or purely by happenstance. Perhaps dictated merely by proximity or popped-up in an internet search. The first contact requires both sides to have the best of intentions and a respectful approach to create a strong connection. Neither side knows if the experience will be positive, but both sides hope for something better than merely “good.”

First impressions have always been important, but matters today more than ever. Primarily because the choices are vast and it so easy to move on. But when both sides approach the relationship with trust, an open mind and the best of intentions, a lifelong business relationship can develop. And the lifetime value of a customer can be profound!

Of course, you only have control of your side of the relationship, but how you approach your customers and design your customers’ experience can greatly influence how they perceive and respond to you. There is a great new and unexpected relationship right around the corner, but you have to be ready. Take out your microscope.

Is it ingrained in your company culture, policies and procedures to be open, kind, welcoming and appreciative — at every point of contact? It’s not episodic or even sporadic. It’s who you are at the cellular level.  In fact, it’s in your business DNA.

David Avrin, CSP is a popular speaker and consultant on Customer Experience and Strategic Marketing. His new book: Why Customers Leave (and How to Win Them Back) will be released early next year. Learn more at www.DavidAvrin.com

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