While some companies manage to successfully build a steady business that strengthens over the years, others have big swings and close up their shop eventually. What is the difference? The difference is a strong relationship with their customers. While many factors lead to the success of a company, one necessary step is creating a strong foundation of customers who returns over time and sends future business through referrals. Customers are the heart of any company. They’re everything, they know it and you know it. And without new and old customers, a company wouldn’t have any business.
So, it’s important to know how you can deepen and strengthen the relationship that you have with your customers to maintain customer loyalty and high customer retention rates, for a long time.
Additionally, when you take care of your customers, they’ll do a lot of your marketing for you in return, by telling others in their network how great you are.
And that is worth the effort, especially when 92% of people trust friends and family recommendations more than any other form of marketing. And this also proves that relationship marketing is beyond valuable.
But the good news is that strong customer relationships are much like any relationship. They also require empathy, communication, and dependability.
Make Communication Easy and Comfortable:
Do your customers know that they can easily reach you whenever they need to? Do they know how can they reach you? Strong customer relationships require active communication, and your customers should be comfortable reaching out to you. So, let your customers know if you can be best reached out by phone, email, chat service, Slack, or some other type of communication method. And you should also know how they prefer to be contacted.
You should also ensure that your customers are comfortable approaching you. They should not feel that their question is too stupid to ask. Instead, your customers should see you as an approachable, friendly expert who will properly guide them through the process.
Care about your customers and be authentic:
The very first thing that you need to fully understand about improving your customer relationships is that you just can’t be a fake.
This simply means that you can’t do things with the entire purpose of improving your bottom line.
Sure, if you improve your customer relationships, the bottom line will usually improve as a side product. However, that should not be your end goal.
And if it is, customers will sniff you from a mile away and you will usually create the opposite effect, which includes losing the respect and trust of both your new and current customers, which is definitely bad for any company.
The key is authenticity. And if you look at the stats, 63% of people buy from authentic brands, compared to the brands that hide their “true selves”.
Usually, prospects and customers approach you because they have some problem(s) that they can’t fix, which is interfering with their business. And it puts them in a vulnerable position.
Ensure to tell them that they are in very good hands. They should feel that they have already found the solution to their problem (you), even if the details are not yet very clear. And also acknowledge that you truly understand their current situation. They will then be prepared to listen to your strategy.
Additionally, it can also help to refer to new customers who have already been in a similar situation. By showcasing that you have worked with other customers who have been in the same situation, you can help them to feel more secure in choosing your business to effectively cater to their needs. You can either do this by adding customer testimonials to your company website or during a conversation with them.
Continually Exceed Customer Expectations:
Doing a great job is one of the best ways to build strong customer relationships. Your offering should meet their requirements. And if you hear comments from your customers like, wow, I didn’t expect that, you’re heading in the right direction.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re undervaluing your time or your offerings. Usually, exceeding expectations needs only a little extra thought. Maybe your packaging is both functional and beautiful. Or perhaps you follow up to ensure that everything works as per expectation.
And if you show your customers that you pay close attention to details and truly care about results, they will keep coming back.
Treat Customers as Individuals:
But remember, you should not push too far in the direction of, “Yes, we’ve already seen this many times.” Your customers shouldn’t feel that they are getting some kind of cookie-cutter advice that you dish out to every one of your customers.
Every customer and their situation are unique. Yes, they could be similar to some extent, and yes, you can assure them that you have the expertise and experience to effectively serve their needs. You probably already have a broad strategy for common problems.
Don’t make your customers feel like they are just a number. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to remember their dog’s birthday or the names of all their children. However, you should have a good understanding of why your customers have come to you. The more personalized your communication and approach is, the stronger the customer relationship.
Be a Person, not an Email Address:
One of the best ways to connect with your customers is to meet them in person. Face-to-face communication is very personal and much more effective. But what if your business is entirely remote? You can still be easily approachable. Just add personality into your communication whenever possible and allow your customers to know more about your business and you as well.
However, you don’t want to feel like any faceless entity they only reach out when there’s a problem. Instead, your customers should have an emotional relationship with you and your company, and this only occurs when you make the interactions personable.
Be a Good Listener:
Did you ever have had a conversation with any of your customer where you felt like you were not being understood properly? It’s quite frustrating to feel like your message is just not getting through.
However, you don’t want your customers to be in that position. Else, your customers will think that either you don’t actually care about their concerns or are unable to communicate. And if customers think that their concerns are not being heard and addresses, they will likely be on their way out soon.
To avoid such an unfortunate ending of the customer relationship, you should listen to your customers. And avoid jumping to a solution before you understand their problem.
Take Responsibility for your Mistakes:
We are only humans, and sometimes we make mistakes. While we try our best to cover all the bases and keep everything running smoothly, life just happens on occasion.
The worst tactic in this situation is to hide or just disappear, trying to hide until the problem is fixed, or just ignore it altogether. Generally, the longer you wait to address an issue raised by your customer, the worst are the consequences.
However, if you quickly take responsibility for the situation, you can still stay in the driver’s seat. Your customer knows that you have identified their problem and are working towards a solution. And even if it wasn’t your fault, by taking charge, you can earn your customer’s respect.
Set a Clear Path:
Your customers would want to know what to expect from you. Usually, they come to you because they are in a new territory. Maybe they don’t understand design or how to develop a product. It’s a new world to them, and they are for an expert to guide them along the way.
And if you set out a clear, well-defined process from the start, you reassure your customers that you know what you’re doing. Additionally, you also help set expectations. Customers get anxious when they see uncertainty, and you can easily avoid that by just informing them ahead of time what you have planned to deliver and when you plan on delivering it.
Talk to your Customers during Key Moments:
One of the best ways to improve your customer relationships is by speaking to them during or after key moments over the phone.
We are going to discuss this from a CEO perspective or someone who is very high up in their organization. However, it will effectively work even if you’re a customer service representative.
There are several moments that you may want to capture with a conversation.
One key moment may be right after purchase.
When you call someone right after they become your customer to thank them for their purchase, they’ll really appreciate it. And the extra effort will also go a long way in showcasing them that you are actually grateful that they chose to do business with you.
Another key moment that is worth speaking to your customers directly is when they have a complaint, which hasn’t been resolved or properly addressed.
If your customer has been following-up on their complaint, and it has taken significant time for your company to fix the issue, you may want to reach out to the customer directly and thank them for their patience.
Just by telling them that higher up has recognized the issue and necessary steps are implemented to ensure that the same issue doesn’t occur again, the customers feel that they’ve been heard and their issue is being addressed. You could also compensate them, then and there, on the call.
It is estimated that poor customer service costs $83 billion a year just to the US companies.
When you quickly address any spiky customer service issues, taking charge and talking directly to the customer, hopefully, you’ll avoid any loses for your company.
Additionally, if you can manage to turn negative customer experience into positive customer experience, you may even benefit from the fact that around 69% of customers would recommend a company to others, after positive customer experience.
You may also want to talk to your customers when asking for feedback or going through development.
If you talk to your customers and ask them for their feedback about how things could be made better with your offerings and with your company as well. Such customer experiences will make your customers feel more invested in your company.
Additionally, your satisfied customers will start to feel that what they say has an impact on the company and also on the product/service they use.
Your customers will be more loyal to you if you implement their feedback because they now know that the product/service will be much better suited to their requirements.
Hence, whenever you plan about iterating your product/service, try getting on the phone and talk to some of your customers to some suggestions from them.
And once you have asked your customers for their feedback, you may also want to thanks them.
Putting everything together, your goal here is to make your customers feel understood and valued. Your loyal customers will want to stick with you, and the new customers would want to become loyal customers.
To continue serving your customers better, you need to know exactly what you’re doing right and which area of your product/service or company needs improvement. And the best source to get this information is from your customers.
Create a regular feedback loop where you ask your customers to let you know what is working and what’s not. It will show your customers that you are there to serve their needs, not just to sell your offerings or build a customer base.
However, you also need to act on your customer’s feedback in order for this to be effective. When your customers see that you implemented any of their suggestions or see that you’re looking into it, you prove that you are flexible and are listening to them. This will increasingly strengthen their relationship with you over time.
Show Gratitude for your Customers:
You can easily find, “We appreciate your business.” on just about every invoice template. However, if you want your customers to actually believe it, you should clearly demonstrate your thankfulness.
This can be a personalized gift or a small gesture like a handwritten thank you note. Or, it also means building a culture that is based on gratitude, where you look for new and effective ways to give back to your customers. Perhaps, invite your customers to a regular learn-and-lunch session where you provide them with valuable information that can help them succeed. This is also a great approach to show to your customers that you are the expert and want to exceed their expectations.
While many companies look for a shortcut to succeed while hoping to leap over their competition, those that survive in the long term have great relationships with their customers. Start working on some of these areas today to keep your calendar booked into the future.
And if you treat your customers well, you’ll be able to improve your relationship with them. As a result, your customer retention rates will improve and your company will grow.