We are wired for newness. On Christmas morning we open present after present looking for the high of having something newer than the one before. Novelty even triggers the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, a “happiness hormone” which is associated with reward and pleasure. It is, in fact, the same chemical released when we are “in love.” But as lovers become accustomed to each other and experience a sort of contentment, so do we set our client relationships on auto-pilot. In other words, it oftentimes takes significant effort to keep a relationship fresh. These relationships require attention in order to keep growing along with the people in them.

In client relationships one or both parties easily fall into the “what have you done for me lately?” pattern. We all know this is the wrong way of doing business though. Fresh, healthy customer relationships are what translate to higher rates of customer engagement which is most closely related to ROI, profit margins, and the like. I suggest the following to keep those client relationships from going stale.

Know Your Customers. Customer feedback is so very important. It is no longer enough for Taco Bell to know its customers are seeking a taste of Mexican food. What kind of Mexican food? At what price point? During what time of day most likely? To eat in or carry out? Unless you consistently solicit feedback from your customers, it will be impossible to keep customer relationships fresh, because you won’t have any idea what your client actually wants. Same with a small business or a client-based business. Find out how the relationship is going and how your client feels about your product and service.

Make A Change. It isn’t enough to say you recognize something needs to be different. You need to execute that difference. Show your client you are gauging the market, you see the need for change, and you are going to execute that change. Show how you will record and analyze results. Give your client a reason to stick with you year after year. Taco Bell realized their hot sauce was no longer enough for the pallets of people now carrying keychain bottles of Sriracha and putting Frank’s Hot Sauce on fried chicken. They responded by introducing the pre-packaged Diablo sauce!

Be Authentic. That is fancy talk for DON’T LIE. Honesty fuels growth and allows each partner to trust the other person. As in marriage, the shift from puppy-love to long-term commitment requires a chemical switch (here we go with the brain again…) from dopamine to vasopressin. In other words, it is time to move from longing to devotion.

What are you doing to manifest healthy, long-term relationships? Are you content with short-term clients and even shorter-term paychecks or are you looking for a partner for life complete with a retirement package? Share your tips in the comments section below.