Building on customer relationships is a lot like investing in personal relationships. The rules to follow are similar and the commitment is long term. Read on to know the why, how and what behind the best practices to build sustainable customer relationships.
Disclaimer: This is a text-only blog. We want you, the reader, to focus on the text, just like you would on customer relationships.
“Relationships are the only thing that matters in business and in life.”
– Jerry Weintraub
No one, and we mean, no one, likes a customer relationship that turns sour because of things under our control. Things that can be fixed should be fixed. Practices that can be followed should be followed.
Maintaining customer relationships that last is on every person/every employee in the organisation. Building relationships is key to your customers’ needs. It’s a circle of an organisation’s life – happy customers – happy employees; happy employees – happy customers.
Here are 5 practices we recommend following to building everlasting customer relationships
(It might seem a lot like relationship advice. Believe us, it is almost as good as one):
a. Great Service For Greater Relationship
From the time you start engaging with a prospective customer, it becomes imperative that you provide a (not a good, but a), GREAT experience. Start with engaging with them in a manner that’s convenient for them. Be it an email, call, WhatsApp – find out how the customer wants you to communicate with them. They’re interested in the product/service you’re offering, make sure to find out:
- Why did they choose it?
- How did they find out about it?
- What are they expecting from it?
- When do they intend to start using it/implementing it?
Once you know this, walk them through the process, in detail. Focus on a fewer number of customers and be there for them. Guide them through your product/service.
The customer has now bought your product/service. Which means they believe in it. They are willing to trust the product/service and they’re willing to trust you. Some questions you should know the answers to now are:
- When do you onboard the customer and their team?
- What are they expecting from the product/service in the first 3-6 months?
- How can you help create a healthy process for them to follow?
“Treat the customer like you would want to be treated. Period!”- Brad Schweig
Suggested Reading: 7 Ways to Improve Post-Purchase Customer Experience
b. Proactive Communication and Regular Updates
Communication is an essential way to build customer relationships, proactive communication even more so; a key to any good relationship. Be where your customers are; social media, email, WhatsApp, phone calls, LinkedIn. Personalise your communication for each customer, exclusively for the customer. Remember the date of contract signing, onboarding, their birthdate, their work anniversary, their professional milestones and reach out on those days, year-on-year. Communicate about exclusive offers, benefits and value-added services regularly.
Don’t just tell your customers about your product/service, have conversations with them. Keep them abreast them about offers, updates, feature launches and other things they might benefit from. Find out what they need, then show them that you have a solution to their problem. Teach your employees how to effectively communicate with customers. Foster communication skills with customers while onboarding new employees. Prepare an employee-customer policy to make sure the customer’s needs are met timely.
“Customer service should not be a department. It should be the entire company.”
– Tony Hsieh – Taylor Chastain
c. Timely Updates to Customers/No Spam Relationship
Your customers would appreciate proactive communication, but that does not mean they would like to be spammed. Find out how your customers like to be communicated with and ask them how frequently they’d like to hear from you. Follow those timelines and modes of communication. Just like in any relationship no one likes being nagged, there is no difference here. Your customer relationship is like any other relationship. If your customer has categorically told you that they’d like to communicate only on weekdays between 10 am to 5 pm via email; that’s what you follow. Maintain the reference sheet for all their names and their preferences, this might make it easier for you to remember.
Always begin with: “So that I can better serve you, do you mind if I ask a few questions?”
– Jodie Shaw
d. Be Approachable/Available – Customer First
Trust building is step 1 to winning your customers and building a relationship with them. Approachability is key to building trust. If your customers can reach out to you with a problem while they’re facing it and you’re around to address it with a solution/steps to a solution, you are golden. We promise.
However, you obviously cannot be available 24×7. Enter, customer support automation, aka chatbot. Automate FAQs on your website, help centre and even social media. Pick on repetitive queries and answer your customer, any time, any day. Set a guideline for this, communicate it to your customer even before they’re onboarded. Tell them you’ll be available for specific queries and provide personalised support when needed. Reassure them.
“You can’t outsource relationship building.” – Scott Stratten
(But you can automate it)
e. Be a Good Listener. Be Helpful. Humanise The Problems
Promoting your business and listening to your customers is equally important. Your customers want to know that you’re listening. They want to work with a business that is empathetic. They want to work with a business where all the employees care, not just the ones that deal with them. Identify your 1000 True Fans. According to KK, “A true fan is defined as a fan that will buy anything you produce. A thousand customers (not an absolute number) is a whole lot more feasible to aim for than a million users. A thousand fans is doable. You might even be able to remember a thousand names. If you added one new true fan per day, it’d only take a few years to gain a thousand.”.
Find your 1000 True Fans. It’s easier to listen to and be helpful to your 1000 fans. Easier to humanise their problems.
“I have come to realize that customers love companies that make them feel good about themselves—companies that reflect what they, the customers, believe about themselves.”
– J.N. Halm
Need help building customer relationships that lasts?