Businesses exist to serve customers; so it goes without saying that no business can thrive, or even survive, without building customer relationships.
Just like any meaningful relationship, the relationship between a business and its customers does not just happen; it must be deliberately cultivated. [Click to tweet]
Consequently, you have to think through and decide the kind of relationship that you would like to have with your customers.
The most basic kind of relationship between a business and its customers is a transactional one. This kind of relationship is really no relationship at all. The business and its customers simply connect for the purpose of completing a purchase.
For example, if a customer just buys things that can be downloaded from your website and pays for them online, this is a transactional relationship.
You can take that further and create a personalized experience by having the customer interact with a real person in a physical store, over the phone, via email, live chat, or through other communication channels.
Businesses that work with elite clients may go even further and give each customer their own representative in order to build a long-term relationship.
This kind of relationship often gets very personal. For example, the company’s representative may take part in family events like weddings and birthday parties with the customer.
Your business can combine various kinds of customer relationships. One form of relationship is not necessarily better than the other.
The choice that you make will be determined by several factors. Some of these are the resources you have, your business model, and, most importantly, what your customers expect from you.
Nevertheless, the fundamentals are the same. An excellent customer experience is the foundation for building viable customer relationships.
One way to achieve this is by always thinking ahead to understand the needs of your customers. Then figure out the best ways to meet those needs.
Good communication is also important. You should make deliberate efforts to keep your customers informed. This is even more important for service-based businesses.
Your customers need to know what you are doing for them and why it matters. Many companies try to do this at scale by leveraging technology to automate most of the process.
Some of the tools used for this purpose are self-service systems and customer relationship management platforms.
But before you can decide what kind of technology you are going to use, you need to know the actions that will lead to the desired outcomes.
Once you know the things that must be done, you can create a customer relationship management plan that works for your specific situation.
4 steps to start building customer relationships
Building profitable and long-term relationships with customers is a demanding task, especially when you consider the fact that each person comes with their own unique personality and preferences. However, it is a lot easier when you break it down into the following steps.
1. Know your customers
You cannot expect to build strong relationships with your customers if you don’t know who they are and what they want. You should also understand why they have chosen to do business with you.
So you need to take the time to ask the necessary questions and put the insights received to good use.
Don’t base this on guesses or conjectures. Get first-hand information and do thorough market research.
You can send out surveys, talk to people one-on-one, set up focus groups, or review data from relevant studies.
Find out what your customers like about your products and services, and what they don’t like as much as you thought they would.
You can get even more value from this process by creating a customer avatar to figure out who your ideal customer is.
Include basic details like age, gender, location, income, civil status, and education level.
Think about their aspirations and desires. What problems are they faced with and how can our business help them?
Gathering these important details will help you to create a customer relationship management strategy that hits the target.
2. Provide exceptional customer service
Customer service that goes above and beyond is an important part of having good relationships with customers. The quality of customer service can make or break a company.
There are so many factors that can go wrong, from miscommunication to unclear expectations. These hurdles create a sense of frustration for the customer and for the service provider.
You can tackle this challenge and provide customers with quality service by educating your employees on the tasks they need to do.
Be proactive in solving problems and do your best to answer questions in real time.
Note that using the right words and phrases when talking to customers is one of the most important parts of customer service.
Your words have an immediate and lasting impact on how people perceive you and your business.
Use positive phrases such as “My apologies” and avoid negative statements like “I don’t know.”
3. Be responsive to your customers
Respond to feedback and requests in a timely manner. Customers want to feel like they are being heard and that their opinions matter. Address their concerns in a way that shows you genuinely care.
Generally, people desire to connect in ways that go beyond work and professional relationships.
Therefore, most customers will appreciate a friendly a personal approach. Find out what you have in common with customers and interact with them on that topic.
Follow up on important details; ask about their family and send them personalized goodwill messages on their special days such as birthdays and anniversaries.
The information gathered in the process of getting to know your customers will be very useful here.
4. Build trust
Because of all the different ways businesses try to lure customers to buy, customers have become quite picky and less trusting. Yet, trust remains a vital element in building customer relationships.
Customers are more likely to trust you when you have a reputation for quality, honesty, and integrity.
One of the ways to achieve this is to always honor your commitments and deliver on your promise, even when it’s difficult.
Customers will be happy to keep doing business with you when they can trust that you will always ensure that they get value for their money instead of leaving them in the lurch.
Studies show that it is easier to keep a customer you already have than to get a new one. Bain & Company reports that a five percent increase in the rate of customer retention can increase profit by more than 25 percent.
Also, it has become clear that the quality of products and services is not enough to make customers stay loyal or keep them coming back.
In most cases, customers will only stay with a business because of the experience that the business creates for them and the relationship that they have with someone in the business.
This is why maintaining excellent customer relationships is a great investment for your business.
Get started with the aforementioned steps and let us know if we can help further.