Imagine there are few businesses that grow over time, while others have huge swings and eventually descend. What is the difference? The polarity lies in how they focus on building customer relationships to the next scale.
Strong customer relationships are much like any relationship. You need to invest your time to build and nurture them over a period. 79% of customers say that they want brands to show that they understand and care about them before they buy anything. Businesses that perceive the importance of building customer relationships develop an emotional connection towards them and retain with them for a long time.
The below model is one approach towards building good customer relationships.
What are the principles of good customer relationships?
A good customer relationship is when the customers have a consistent customer experience every time they interact with the business and leaves them with a good impression. There is mutual regard and understanding between the customers and business thus extends for a long period of time.
The actions for building strong customer relationships embody providing real time support and also proactively offering solutions that are geared towards customer success. Customer relations aims to create a mutually beneficial relationship with the customer that extends beyond the initial purchase.
In order to build good customer relationships you need to:
- Customize your approach with warm greetings depending upon the scenario.
- Make your customers feel that you understand what they want.
- Know that some customers are more interested in the ways you build customer relationships than your products or services.
- Keep your customers notified about the things they are interested to do business with you.
What is the importance of building customer relationships?
There is a great importance of building customer relationships considering an array of plus including more potential leads and higher customer retention rates. To streamline it, here are the top three benefits of building great customer relations.
Increase Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
The longer the customer retains with your business, the greater is the value provided during their lifetime relationship. High CLV means each customer will bring in more revenue for your company. When it comes to customer success, you should spare no efforts in building strong customer relationships
Reduced customer churn
61% of customers stop buying from a company if they have a poor customer experience. When you adopt the right techniques to build customer relationships, you deliver great experiences, which brings your customers back to you and reduces the chances of customer churn. By delivering expected service, you stop them from switching to other brands.
Improve customer loyalty
Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer. How you maintain good customer relationships, determines your customer loyalty. By fulfilling the customers’ demand for high levels of customer service you can boost inform their level of satisfaction. When customers are happy, they go on recommending your brand with positive word of mouth.
10 ways to build long standing customer relationships
Building trustworthy customer relationships consider all the interactions across the customer journey and other factors that can influence a customer relationship. Businesses should focus on a comprehensive approach to customer success while planning the techniques to build customer relationships.
In order to do the same, here are 10 key factors that any business should consider for their customer relationship strategies.
1. Spare no effort to exceed customer service expectations
Building long lasting customer relationships is a smart move from a marketing standpoint. It also helps you to anticipate your customer needs, perform ongoing adjustment actions to improve your business and exceed their expectations.
InContact study found that consumers were generally positive with proactive service. Real time support is one key attribute of providing a great customer experience. It is a win-win formula for businesses to exceed customer service expectations and create a good impression.
Here are some of the best practices to exceed your customer expectations:
- Deliver real time support – You can deliver real time sales and support assistance to your customers with live chat. You can gain insights and understanding of the customer journey and deliver proactive support to enhance the customer experience.
- Connect with your customers – Allow your support team to connect with your customers and understand their needs and feedback. Empower them to fulfill their needs and deliver a great experience.
- Make your customers feel special – Go an extra mile to deliver the meet and exceed your customer expectations. Send a thankyou note to your customers. It will have a positive impact on your brand reputation and increase customer loyalty
Ritz Carlton Florida sets a good example of creating a memorable customer service experience. One of the family left their son’s beloved toy Giraffe at the hotel during their vacation and all his father (Chris Hurn) could do was, he emailed Ritz explaining the situation.
The hotel people responded by not only sending the beloved toy home but by creating a photo booklet showing everything Joshie had done during his extra stay. When a hotel had done that for your child, would you stay anywhere else?
2. Personalize customer relationships
Keeping your customers happy and satisfied is important for all businesses. Connecting with your customers on a personal level is the key to establishing a long and trustworthy relationship with your business.
According to Monetate, 79% of organizations that have exceeded revenue goals possess a documented personalization strategy.
Personalization increases loyalty, drives higher conversions, and ultimately increases revenue. It is understandable that the path to the personalization for some companies is challenging and as a result, marketers have created segmentation strategies rather than building a truly personalized experience.
Consider the below steps in order to build strong customer relationships and achieve brand success:
- Match your tone with your customer personality – Some customers prefer short conversations and some like lengthy ones. You can learn about your customer personalities. It will help you to know how to speak and personalize relationships with them.
- Use advanced customer engagement tools – With live assistance tools like co-browsing & video chat you can collaborate with your customers in real-time and identify issues faster. You can deliver effective personalized solutions in the first contact. With direct communication, you can build friendlier customer relationships.
- Know your customer preferences – Listen to your customers to identify their needs. Try to learn their preferred contact channels, and how they would like to be addressed. Give your customers the option to choose while enabling them to opt-out when they wish. Knowing your customers’ preferences personalizes the experience and builds their confidence in your brand.
3. Understand customer psychology
The essence of customer service psychology relates to customer satisfaction. When you understand your customer needs thoroughly is when you are able to boost customer satisfaction rates. Customers expect to be valued, listened, cared about their problem and want assurance that the same won’t be repeated in the future.
Customer psychology can be analyzed and understood based on their behavior and emotions that will help you to serve them better. The main benefits your brand can gain by understanding the psychology of customers are:
- Customer loyalty – when customers are satisfied with your service they become your loyal customers and be associated with your brand.
- Brand advocacy – when you know your customer’s preferences, interests you can personalize your conversations and build a strong customer relationship. Later, share their success stories and advocate your brand.
When a customer reaches out to you with a complaint or problem, their expectation is to be heard and get the problem fixed as soon as possible. They expect an attentive ear who acknowledge their problem and deliver the right solution.
4. Prioritize customer experience
Customer experience is an integral part of strategies to maintain customer relationships. Brands with superior customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than competitors that lag in customer experience.
The three invaluable benefits of building customer relationships that any business can witness are customer loyalty, retention, and referrals. They have a direct impact on the revenue of your business. When customers become loyal, their lifetime value increases, and there are chances of recommending you to potential new customers.
Happy and satisfied customers remain loyal. Understand the customer journey and try to deliver consistent customer experience across the whole lifecycle. The happier are your customers, they will retain your business.
This is why delivering superior customer service becomes crucial for business. Qantas Airlines, in order to streamline its operations invested in customer experience and set a great example for other brands.
- Qantas started offering free Wi-Fi on flights that are a rare service.
- Unveiled a faster, streamlined baggage check-in process.
From flight booking to checking a bag, every aspect of a customer’s journey with Qantas was improved.
5. Create value for customers
How do you hook a customer for a lifetime?
As a brand, you need to focus on creating value for your customers. And you can do so by
- Understanding your customer needs – Listen to what your customers say, their actions and reactions to understand what is important for them and look for the opportunities you can help them.
- Build communities – Communities can have a tangible impact on key business performance indicators. Businesses gain a significant rise in operational efficiency, revenue generation, and customer satisfaction. Hence, customer communities can be identified as one of the primary techniques to build customer relationships.
- Understand your value proposition – You have to understand what value does your products or services create for your customers. What will be the cost for them in terms of usage?
- Invest in your valuable customers – Allocate your business growth towards new products and solutions that serve your best customers. Customers are the lifeblood of your business. They are the source of current profits and the foundation of future growth.
- Educate customers – Businesses adopt various marketing ploys to lure prospects. Customers are more likely to trust those brands that make an effort to enhance their knowledge about their products or services. Research states that educating customers strengthens their trust in an organization, and it can act as an important service differentiator for brands.
6. Instill customer service etiquette
62% of consumers worldwide mentioned they have stopped doing business with a brand after a poor customer service experience. This makes integration of customer service etiquette crucial in every facet of your business as delivering superior service is the best way to strengthen customer relationships.
Some key customer service etiquette that you can follow are:
Use positive words and phrases
Customers generally switch brands, when they feel the agents are untrained or rude. 70% of the customer’s journey is dictated by how the customer feels they are being treated. Using the right phrases and words to interact with customers is one of the important aspects of customer service. Your words create the first impression that goes a long way.
Positive phrases like – My apologies, I am sorry should be used and negative phrases like – I don’t know, No problem should be avoided.
Practice active listening
Always listen to what your customers say. Make the best use of every opportunity to make your customers feel comfortable, valued, and appreciated. Listen completely, without interrupting what your customers have to say helps to identify the exact problem.
Listen actively helps to figure out what exactly your customers want, their opinions, feedback so that you can meet and exceed customer their expectations
The two mere words ‘thank you’ can do miracles when it comes to customer service. When you use words like “Thank you” and “Please” graciously, it develops a feeling of being appreciated and the bond becomes strong between the business and customers.
Dealing with customers, especially when they are having a complaint or facing any issue, can be resolved much faster and easier by using empathetic statements, being patient, and showing consideration.
Using statements like “I realize how complicated it is to…” or “I’m so sorry to hear that…” can help to build a rapport by expressing genuine empathy.
7. Provide multi channel communication approach
Do your customers know they can reach you with what they need to? Do they know how? Strong customer relationships require active communication. It means your customers need to be comfortable reaching out.
Let your customers know if you are best reached by email, live chat, social channels, text message or other forms of communication. You should also know how they prefer to be contacted and be actively available to deliver a consistent experience across all the channels.
Here are some tips on identifying the channels
- Understand your target audience – You need to start working out on what platforms your customers are using and how they prefer to interact with brands.
- Choose the right communication channels – Whichever channel you opt for, the overall goal should be in driving conversion and also working in tandem with the other channels to provide a consistent and unified experience to customers.
- Focus on brand engagement – In order to sell your brand and create real longevity, you will need them to interact with you. You should focus on conversational engagement across all channels customers reach out to you.
- Tailor your approach for channels – A truly successful multichannel strategy needs content specifically tailored to suit each channel. Ensure to make the content different, but the message is consistent.
8. Use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) management tools
CRM is a customer-focused business strategy designed to optimize revenue, profit and customer satisfaction. The more you understand your customers, the easier it is to target new prospects and boost sales.
Customer relationship management can act as a powerful tool that helps in recording your customer’s product likes and dislikes, their spending patterns and their location, age, and gender. The CRM software enables you to build up a detailed profile of their tastes, needs and buying habits.
A CRM system can benefit your business by helping you centralize, optimize and streamline your communications with customers and enhance the below areas:
- Gain insights about your customers
- Segment customer base in a better way
- Anticipate their needs & interests
- Increase customer retention rates
- Faster communication with customers
By using CRM tools like Hubspot, Salesforce, Infusionsoft, you can identify your most profitable customers, for example, or promising prospects, and target them with marketing messages and offers devised just for them.
9. Appreciate loyal customers
How to maintain good customer relationships?
One good way is by appreciating your loyal customers.
Loyal customers are like assets to your business. They improve your brand image by turning as brand advocates by good word of mouth. According to Motista, customers with an emotional connection to a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value, stay with the brand for a longer time and will recommend at a much higher rate.
Businesses should go the extra mile to show their appreciation to their loyal customers through the following ways:
- Incentivize – Offer discounts, free products, special buying opportunities, offer price reductions to loyal customers shows that you value them.
- Premium service – You can offer premium services to your loyal customers like – co-browsing, video chat, chatbot support.
- Early access – Early Access program is a reward to loyal customers to give them something exclusive.
Sephora’s Beauty Insider rewards program is globally popular.
- The program records more than 17 million loyal members, and members make up as much as 80% of Sephora’s annual sales.
- Customers earn rewards for each purchase based on a traditional point system.
- The best part is that members can choose how to use their reward points.
10. Acquire customer feedback and act on it
Obtaining customer feedback is one of the techniques to build customer relationships.
In order to serve your customers well, you need their feedback and opinion on what you are doing and what needs improvement. Your customer is the best source of information who can provide you a genuine picture of your product or performance.
The tips you can follow for collecting customer feedback and acting on it:
- Establish a regular feedback loop in which you ask customers to let you know what is working. This shows them that you are there to understand & serve their needs, not just to build your client base.
- You can ask feedback at the right time such as after the service conversation ends, after a support ticket is resolved or a product demo to gain the most genuine feedback.
- You need to obtain customer feedback effectively. Further, categorize and discuss the feedback with respective departments and implement their suggestions. They feel valued and show them that you are listening to them.
Customer feedbacks not only brings in the scope of improvement in the business but also l strengthen customer relationships over time.
Building customer relationships is a critical business objective across the globe. If you want to improve brand engagement, give reasons to your customers to emotionally connect with you.
Practically go beyond CRM and adopt techniques to build and maintain good customer relationships. The above mentioned customer relationship strategies will help you to solidify your relations with customers and create a strong foundation that will help you grow your business to new levels.
Every business is different, but the core essence of success is the same.