What is your current relationship with your customers? Are customers happy when they see your logo, or do they barely recognise it unless it’s on a product? Are customers telling their friends about your business? Building customer relationships is essential to the growth and sustainability of your business, which is why we’ve compiled a list of our top 5 most important steps to help you when building relationships with customers.
Why Are Customer Relationships Important?
Customers are an essential part of any company, and a healthy relationship with them means more return business, more customer referrals, more brand loyalty and in the end, more sales. An unhealthy relationship, on the other hand, will hurt your business.
Basically, you need your customers to like you, which is why many companies will invest a large amount of their marketing budget into relationship marketing. But whether you have a big budget or just need the basic best practices, we’ve got tips to help you maintain a healthy and lasting relationship with your best customers.
5 Ideas for How to Build Customer Relationships
1. Build Trust with Great Customer Service
A good customer service experience is essential to building trust with a customer. Even if their first experience with your products or services isn’t ideal, a good customer service experience can save the relationship by showing that you take their concerns seriously and will deal fairly with your customers. A bad experience, however, is guaranteed to send customers away. Not sure how to tell if your customer service is effective? Here are some key characteristics you want in your customer service when building customer relationships:
- Accessible: If customers can’t get the help they need, or it takes an hour just to finally speak to a person about their problem, they’ll either start their experience already angry or else give up and avoid your company in the future.
- Helpful: Are customers actually having their problems addressed? If your customer service is offering ineffective solutions that don’t solve anything in the long term, customers are going to keep coming back angrier and angrier every time.
- Prompt: When customers reach out for help, how long do they have to wait for a solution? Being quick to respond and resolve is important when maintaining good customer relationships.
- Professional: Your customers want to feel like they are dealing with someone who knows what they’re doing and who will keep their cool even when customers themselves are feeling overwhelmed.
Want to see great customer service in action? Come meet our own customer service team!
2. Make Great First Impressions with Your Shopping Experience
When your goal is making sales, you don’t want customers to struggle to buy your products and services. The more obstacles you put between your customers and the checkout, the more likely they are to give up and not buy anything. That initial shopping experience is also likely to be your first impression on that customer, which means you have one chance to do it right. Here are some essential elements to remember when setting up your shopping experience:
- Easy to find products and services: How can customers spend their money if they can’t find what they’re looking for? Whether it’s in your shop or on your website, keep everything easy to find with easy-to-navigate labels and layouts.
- Transparent pricing: Nobody wants to have to wait until checkout to see if they can afford what they’re buying. Do everything you can to make pricing easy to understand and apparent from the start so customers can feel comfortable about what’s in their basket.
- Secure and simple checkout: The longer it takes for customers to check out, the more likely they are to change their mind about their purchase. Make sure that once they’ve decided to buy your products or services, they can check out quickly and with their information kept secure.
- A clean and engaging atmosphere: The moment customers walk into your shop or click on your website, they develop an impression of your business. Make sure that first impression is a good one with an uncluttered layout and displays that represent your business well. A good shop or website atmosphere should invite customers to explore and get excited about your products.
3. Show Your Appreciation with Gifts and Deals
While customers don’t always expect companies to go the extra mile to maintain their customer-company relationship, they really appreciate it when they do. When you find ways to give back to your community, or to customers individually, you’re showing that you value their patronage, increasing customer loyalty in return. Learn how to upgrade your relationship marketing based around mutual appreciation with these special offers:
- Community fundraisers and events: Your customers are part of a community, and they’ll be loyal to others who are part of it. That’s why it’s important to build strong community bonds by reaching out with charity fundraisers and events, such as raising money for local organisations and initiatives.
- Branded gifts and in-store treats: Do a little something just for your customers by giving away branded products like hats, shopping totes, travel mugs and more that they will use regularly. You can also celebrate special times of year with customers by offering things like sweet treats, hot chocolate, sweets, etc.
- Special deals: When customers spend money on your business, they want to feel rewarded. Special deals and vouchers for return customers help them feel like their investment is paying off and will encourage them to keep coming back.
Need ideas for great gifts to share with customers and clients? Have a look at our selection of promotional products!
4. Seek and Implement Feedback from Your Customers
If nobody tells you what you’re doing wrong, how will you ever fix it? Likewise, it’s important to know what you’re doing right so you can keep on doing it. Customer comments and feedback can be tough to take, but it’s an essential part of improving your business as you grow. Here are a few ways you can seek out constructive feedback to help improve customer relationships:
- Google and Yahoo reviews: Yes, there are a lot of unhappy people on the internet, but there are also plenty of genuine customers who want to share their experiences with your business. Customers take these reviews seriously, and so should you! Read them and respond to genuine concerns and praise.
- Contact form on your website: Don’t want every review to be posted on the internet? Offer a contact form on your website so customers can reach out with concerns, questions and valuable feedback. Make sure you’re responding to each one — customers like to feel heard!
- In-store QR code (with a voucher!): Not getting enough feedback? Post a QR code in your shop that leads to a review survey. For each completion, reward customers with a voucher to use on their next purchase as compensation for their time and insights.
- Secret shoppers: Secret shoppers are a great way to get an outsider’s assessment of your business. When you hire a secret shopper, you can give them a list of criteria to grade their experience on, as well as different behaviours they can test against your staff to see how well they handle difficult customers.
5. Maintain Ongoing Communication with Customers
Your customer relationship shouldn’t stop at the checkout; continuing communication helps to keep you relevant with your customers while also encouraging return business. Plus, customers are more likely to stay loyal to companies that are a regular part of their everyday life. Not sure how to make that happen? Here are our tips for staying connected with your customers while building customer relationships:
- Social media: Customers spend a lot of time on social media and often use it to inform their shopping decisions. If you have lots of high-quality and engaging content on your social pages, customers are going to end up spending more time with your brand.
- Newsletters: Both paper and email newsletters are great ways to share special customer-loyalty deals, keep customers up to date on company events and just in general let them know that you haven’t forgotten them.
- Follow-up emails: Are you following up after a purchase with a thank you email or card? How about checking in after a week with their new product or service? These follow-ups help customers feel appreciated while keeping your brand top of mind.
- Blog posts: That’s right, blog posts like these are a great way to build rapport with customers. It establishes you as a voice of authority in your industry while creating another space for customers to engage with your brand.
Learn more about how to maintain effective communication with customers with our blog post about how to thank your customers. You can also read our other blog post about connecting with your target audience.