Eight Tips for Building Customer Relationships

    In a world that’s dominated by technology, taking time to cultivate customer relationships is more important than ever. While it may seem like a monumental task, it’s often the smallest gestures and steps that yield the most prominent results with customers.

    To effectively build relationships, you need to treat customers like humans rather than sales figures and remind them that you’re human as well. Here are eight practical tips for building strong customer relationships.

    Offer Proactive Support

    One of the most effective ways to start building customer relationships is to offer proactive support rather than reactive support. Go above and beyond and remind your customers why they chose you over the competition. Reach out regularly to check in and offer value-added services, such as onboarding and free tech support.

    Being proactive is essential because many customers won’t reach out when they have what they perceive as a minor issue. However, if you take the time to check-in, they’re more likely to mention it and find a solution, rather than harboring discontentment. 

    Send Gifts of Appreciation

    Sending regular gifts of appreciation shows customers that you care, and can also double as a marketing opportunity. Even something as simple as a birthday card with a handwritten note can be seen as a touching gesture that customers will love.

    Include gifts that customers will perceive as useful or witty. For example, a branded portable phone charger or witty printed shirt that’s relevant to your product offering can go a long way (read more). You can also reach out to complementary businesses and offer a customer care package with added value.

    Be Accessible

    Endless automated switchboards and phone menus will derail your customer relationships. Make your customer contact points as accessible and easy as possible. While it’s vital to manage customer expectations – such as setting business hours for customer representative contacts – you should utilize various methods of communication to make contact easier.

    Chatbots are making waves in inbound marketing, especially when integrated with social media. These automated messengers can answer simple questions and act as gatekeepers before escalating the point of contact. Queries regarding pricing, hours, holiday schedules, etc. can all be programmed for quick, natural responses that keep things moving forward.

    Use Personalization

    Personalization is another up and coming inbound marketing trend for the next decade. Rather than sending mass emails, adding personalized notes that speak to your customers will assist with satisfaction and retention.

    Personalization efforts will also help you turn current customers into repeat customers by creating hyper-focused cross-selling and upselling campaigns. With personalization, you have the opportunity to offer your customers value, rather than being perceived as a pushy salesperson.

    Use Loyalty and Referral Programs

    Loyalty and referral programs reward customers for their business. It’s a way to show that you appreciate your ongoing relationship with minimal effort. Furthermore, it presents an opportunity to improve customer retention and customer acquisition without the upfront costs of advertising.

    Offer your current customers discounts or rebates for successful referrals. Go beyond the traditional punch card to use this platform to collect insights about their behavior and values, which will shape future campaigns.

    Meet Them at Their Level

    Not all customers will operate at the same level. Many businesses try to offer additional support to a customer and receive pushback, only to find that the customer leaves them glowing reviews. Other customers will want to have a long conversation about daily life before talking business.

    To build customer relationships, you need to be adaptable and meet them at their level. If you have a customer who is always strapped for time, keep conversations brief and to the point. If you have a customer who likes a leisurely chat, go with the flow.

    Focus on Retention over Acquisition

    Once they’ve made a purchase, your customers should feel as valued or more valued than they did when they were a prospect. Don’t make the mistake of always looking ahead at the next sale. Instead, have a robust customer retention strategy in place.

    It costs significantly more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain a current customer. Additionally, providing exceptional service makes it more likely that your existing customers will refer you to their colleagues, reducing the work you need to put into acquisition.

    Use Smart CRM Tools

    As technology evolves, it becomes more accessible to small businesses and startups with limited resources. As such, businesses have no excuse for not investing in smart CRM tools. 

    Look for software that allows you to track sales and details about customers, as well as analyzes and highlight behaviors. These tools provide valuable insights into who your customer is, so you can refine your marketing to increase conversions and repeat purchases.

    Using smart eCRM tools for email marketing is also essential for going forward. This software can help you set automated email lifecycle marketing campaigns and triggers to boost your revenue while you’re asleep.

    Remember that building customer relationships takes time. Not every conversation will be great, but every little bit of effort counts. Keep your customers at the forefront of your mind with every business decision you make and integrate customer care into the core of your brand.

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    • Tom La Vecchia

      Founder of New Theory & X Factor Media

      Founder and Publisher of New Theory Magazine and Podcast. Serial Entrepreneur who loves wine, cigars and anything that allows to people to connect and share experiences.

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