As marketers, it is our daily bread to help businesses grow. An important part of driving that growth is connecting with customers and building strong customer relationships.
Building customer relationships is key to learning who your customers really are and what they want. This can help your business grow and improve its overall performance.
A strong customer relationship is much like any relationship – you need to invest time and effort to maintain it. In fact, almost 80% of customers say that they want brands to show them that they are being understood and cared about. Mind you, that’s before they even buy anything from you!
Customers don’t ask for much, right?! Luckily, modern technology and creative marketing tools have made it easier for you to show them that you care for them.
Let’s first see why customer relationships are so important for your business and how they can benefit you. Then we’ll dive into 5 ways on how you can improve your existing customer relationships and transform them into long-lasting ones.
The Importance of Customer Relationships
It is not just about learning who your customers are to be able to serve their needs. No, customer relationship management is so much more than that.
Understanding the importance of customer relationships can bring you long-term success in your business. Because really, what would your business be without your customers?
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”Bill Gates
For your customers, it’s not just about the functional benefits your product or service can offer. Customers want emotional value too, like knowing that your brand supports your community or has changed to plastic-free packaging to help protect our environment.
Today’s customers want an emotional connection with your brand. And as today’s customer is constantly changing, you have to continuously adapt to keep that strong relationship going.
Principles of Good Customer Relationships
The main principle of having a good customer relationship is consistency. Ask yourself: Are your customers receiving the same consistent quality every time? Do you provide them with a clear key message?
Consistency is key and the foundation of any good customer relationship. You want to make sure that every time a customer comes into contact with your brand you leave behind a good (and consistent!) impression.
There are a few steps you can take to build good customer relations such as:
- Customisation – treat your customers each as individuals
- Make them feel understood – show them what your product or service can do for them
- Communicate emotional benefits of your product or service – some customers are more interested in that rather than the functional benefits
- Always keep your customers informed and be transparent
Again, customer relationships are just like any relationship. Make sure you put in constant effort and time to maintain them.
Benefits of Strong Customer Relationships
There are many benefits strong customer relations bring along. Here are the main three:
Development of brand advocates
Brand advocates are people who promote your brand (unpaid) and proactively share about it on their own social media and networks. Basically, they are your biggest fan.
While 92% of customers trust another customer’s recommendations and 82% of customers actively search for recommendations, brand advocates are important to your business.
Boosts Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
CLV stands for the total monetary value (or simply profit) a customer brings the business over the period of a business relationship.
The biggest influence on the performance of CLV is customer satisfaction. And what increases customer satisfaction?
You probably guessed that right: Well-looked after customer relationships. The happier the customer, the more they are prepared to give.
In fact, satisfied customers are 5x more likely to make a repeated purchase and 4x more likely to refer you to a friend.
Most businesses get so excited about getting new customers that they forget about their existing ones. And how important those existing customers are!
It’s true, customer retention brings about a lot of incredible benefits. Reduced costs, higher ROI, increased profits. If you don’t have a customer retention strategy, you are wasting time and money acquiring new customers.
Check out our 5 must-have methods to have a killer customer retention strategy!
How to Build Strong Customer Relationships
The key to building healthy and long-lasting relationships is engagement. Keep your customers engaged with these five strategies:
1. Be consistent
As we have established earlier, being consistent is the foundation of any customer relationship. Customers deeply value consistency.
Make sure the way you communicate with them is consistent across all channels, whether that’s through your website, over the phone or on your social media.
Also try and have a system in place that explains the manner in which you will respond to customer requests. Let them know in what time they can expect an answer from you. When they sign up for your newsletter, tell them in what frequency they will receive emails.
2. Blow them away
Every customer has certain expectations from you. But whatever you do, ensure you can meet your promise. There is nothing worse than promising a 5-star meal, but then only delivering a naked potato.
Sometimes it is better to undersell and over deliver. For example, you can impress your customers by delivering the product faster than said or you can offer supplementary elements such as a free drink for customers waiting at a hair salon.
3. Know who they really are
Effectively nurturing customer relationships requires you to understand your customers. This means you need to know their values, beliefs and emotions.
Looking past demographics and geographics allows you to identify what really motivates them and from it you can create value for them.
A good way of analysing your customers is to create buyer personas. Buyer personas give in-depth information and understanding what motivates your customers, how they tick and things that might influence their decisions.
Once you truly understand your customers and what they expect from you, it makes it easier for you to meet and exceed that.
4. Ask for and take in feedback
This is something that often gets undervalued and neglected. But, customer feedback means serious business when it comes to long-term business success.
Customer feedback doesn’t just give you great insight into what works and what doesn’t, but also makes them feel like they are being heard – and valued.
Encourage customers to provide feedback either on your website or social media. A trick is to offer incentives to customers to give feedback such as 10% off their next purchase.
5. Make it personal
It is all good and well to keep your customers informed. But remember, keeping them engaged is key to building and maintaining strong customer relationships.
How to better keep them engaged than with a personal message?
Personalisation makes your customer feel unique and valuable to your business. This drives customer loyalty, leading to higher conversion rates.
Of course you can’t communicate with every single customer on a personal level as such – and you’re not expected to! It’s rather about creating segmentation strategies that will let you communicate with customers at different levels (new customers, repeated purchasers, haven’t-heard-from-you-in-a-while customers).
But having some sort of personalised strategy in place is essential to build trustworthy relationships.
Understanding who your customers really are and keeping them engaged is key to establishing strong and long-lasting customer relationships.
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