How to Build Customer Relations in Your Business
Developing a fantastic product or service is a great first step in establishing a new business, and in the old days it may have been enough to turn a profit. However, in this day and age, there are so many competitors and innovators in any given industry that customers and businesses alike are relying on the most fundamental of concepts to decide where to take their business—the influence of the interpersonal relationship.
Today, the businesses who harness the benefits of positive customer relations are the ones who experience the highest rates of success. Ahead, we’ll lay out some of the core concepts they use to help you build fantastic and strong customer relationships of your own.
How to Build Customer Relations
The overriding principle of customer relations is to engage and connect with customers to improve the customer experience, with the goal of creating long-term relationships which are mutually beneficial. There are numerous ways to achieve this, and a lot of them will be dependent upon the size, type, and makeup of the business you run.
These will include functions that are both proactive and reactionary; meaning some functions will be initiated on your end, and others will be initiated by customer feedback. Regardless of who is initiating the interaction, there are a few core tenets that must be followed to have any chance at achieving good customer relations.
Treat All Customers as Individuals
The simplest and most effective way to establish a good customer relationship (or nurture an existing one) with customers is to treat them like the individuals they are. These people are more than just leads for potential sales. They are living, breathing, working individuals with everyday problems and responsibilities just like you, and businesses who fail to pay this fact due consideration are likely to fail themselves.
Here are a few tips that tend to go a long way in establishing positive customer relationships:
- Call Customers By Their Names – it only takes a second to inquire and learn a customer’s name. Be sure to remember it and use it during your interactions with them. This shows that you listen and that you care, which fosters a certain amount of familiarity that goes a long way in establishing a customer relationship. Studies show that brain activity actually increases when people hear their own name. By directing information to your customer’s by name, you increase your chances of your message hitting home and being accepted.
- Keep An Order History – Keeping a history of past orders is always a good idea. It allows you to make a profile of each individual customer which helps you understand the needs of their particular business. On a personal level, this gives you another way to personalize their experience and show that you care about the well-being of their business. It also affords you the opportunity to make personalized recommendations that benefit their bottom line (as well as your own).
- Follow Up – A quick followup call or email is a simple way to show genuine interest in a customer’s well-being, and it does not go unnoticed. Whether you are inquiring about a new product or solution that you turned them onto, or simply sending a quick thank you for their business, it is always a good idea to reach out and continue showing interest in your customers’ lives.
Keep Constant Contact
Routinely staying in contact with your customers presents a lot of opportunities that can be mutually beneficial in a good customer relationship. Not only does it allow you to show interest in their lives, but it also provides opportunities for feedback that can help you fix recent issues, or better yet, prevent them entirely. There are any number of ways to stay in constant contact, including:
- Followup calls or emails
- Thank-you cards
- In-person followup (a great choice, if you have the resources)
Staying in touch also allows you to keep customers up to date on any new offerings you might provide to make their lives easier—including new products, services, or special promotions you might be running. It is also a good idea to find ways to keep customers current on changes in the industry, to make sure their established approach keeps them competitive under current market conditions. There is a whole host of communication methods at your disposal to stay in contact, among these are:
- Snail mail
- Social Media
- Blog Posts
Regardless of what method (or combination of methods) you choose to leverage, be sure to use them wisely and appropriately. Constant email blasts tend to lose their luster rather quickly, so customers tend to start overlooking them. You will want to mix up the media you use, and choose the one best suited to both the type of message you wish to send and the nature of your brand in order to maintain engagement.
Example: Use snail mail, social media, or email to extend birthday wishes and special
offerings. A phone call may be construed as invasive and overstep boundaries.
Maintain A Consistent, Positive Demeanor During Interactions
This concept is sometimes reserved for customer service representatives only, but it is important to establish a culture of positivity throughout your organization in order to achieve consistency amongst all aspects of a customer relationship.
Customer relations is all about helping other people to achieve their goals. Exercising positivity and extending goodwill in the face of adversity is a sure-fire way to help customers make progress and cement your relationship in their hearts. Again, this concept must be instilled throughout every department of your business, to ensure customer satisfaction regardless of who your representative is during a given interaction.
It starts with the little things:
- Use affirmative words and empathy statements – Words like ‘surely’, ‘exactly’, ‘absolutely,’ and so on lend a positive tone to the conversation, while empathetic statements like “I will look into that for you” and “I can help you with that” breed a sense of fellowship and aspiration toward a common goal.
- Smile – As cliche as it may sound, studies have long shown that smiling (appropriately) throughout interactions releases endorphins in our body that help us feel and exude a sense of happiness and well-being. It even works over the phone. Humans have a knack for picking up on extra-verbal cues like tone and inflection. When you smile, it helps you stay relaxed and composed, and customers will pick up on that from the other end of the phone.
Exceed Customer’s Expectations
A fantastic way to ingratiate yourself with customers is to deliver on every promise you make, and then add a little something extra. Generally, this starts with clear communication of expectations from both parties. Once reasonable prospects have been established, and you devise a plan to meet them, you then have an opportunity to get creative with your resources and find some way to exceed them.
In some cases, it can be quite simple.
For instance, if you and a customer agree that two weeks is a reasonable timeframe in which to deliver on a project, but you have the resources available to complete the project in a week and a half, it would behoove you to capitalize on the opportunity. Even delivering a day early, or just a little under budget can pay huge dividends in building a positive, long-term customer relationship.
Value Your Customers’ Time As Much As They Do
In many cases, smaller businesses command the bandwidth necessary to devote individualized attention to a relatively small client base. With fewer clients to manage, most correspondence and customer data tracking can be handled manually while maintaining efficiency. However, when businesses scale up and the workload multiplies, it becomes important to put systems in place to help manage the increased workload.
The fact is, no one enjoys waiting in line or being put on hold; especially long-standing customers who can remember a time when they didn’t need to wait on hold to receive your service. When you reach this point in your company’s lifecycle, you will need to consider adopting a Customer Relation Management (CRM) software to alleviate some of the strain on your team.
Customer Relation Management Software
A solid CRM system will help you manage customer relationships by automating many of the functions previously performed by your staff. Using such a system to its potential has huge benefits in terms of time saved, efficiency of your team, and the quality of the service they are able to provide.
Even the most basic customer relation management softwares handle:
- Creating consumer profiles through order history and correspondence
- Consolidating customer’s inquiries across platforms (phone, email, social media)
- Recording customer phone conversations
- Sending personalized email
- Customer outreach via email and live chatbot
- And more…
To sweeten the pot further, a number of CRM providers offer a lot of these features for free, making them ideal for small and growing businesses.
Regardless of what industry your company operates in, the importance of building healthy and strong customer relationships cannot be understated. Whether your company is involved in B2C sales (business to customer) or B2B (business to business), the fact of the matter is, your interactions at the point of contact are the foundation for future sales.
One-time purchases will not sustain a business, but repeat sales will. By adhering to a policy of empathetic, efficient communication with clients you allow room for positive customer relationships to flourish. Do that, and your business is bound to follow.
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- Hubspot. What is Customer Relations? Everything You Need to Know. https://blog.hubspot.com/service/customer-relations
- Sprout Social. 8 tips to build customer relationships with social media. https://sproutsocial.com/insights/build-customer-relationships/
- Tidio. 7 Ways to Build Strong Relationships With Customers. https://www.tidio.com/blog/customer-relationship/
- NCBI. Brain Activation When Hearing One’s Own and Others’ Names. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1647299/