How to Build Strong Customer Relationships to Boost Loyalty
The key to building strong customer relationships, no matter the size of your business, is to engage your customers. It begins with these seven strategies:
- Write the best emails
Wall Street Journal best-selling author and digital marketing titan Ann Handley says email, especially in the form of a newsletter, remains one of the best ways to reach people online.
"Newsletters are vastly undervalued and they're a huge opportunity that we're not doing well."
Every email you send out is a chance to build a connection with a potential customer. Yours should provide value and be personalized to the preferences of the human being on the other end, as well as where they are in their customer journey. You’re trying to be a part of someone’s life for the long-haul, right?
No one wants to hear from someone they haven’t heard from in a while who is just asking for money. Likewise, you don’t only want to reach out to your customers when you have something to sell. Instead, keep them up to date on the latest happenings within your business or industry, send them special offers around the products or services they’re most interested in, and continue to educate them by being a source of valuable information. When they’re ready to buy, they’ll know where to find you.
- Embrace pathological empathy
Handley also talks about the need for marketers to practice "pathological empathy." So, what does this look like for you? You can’t foster good customer relationships if you don’t understand your customers and tap into their emotions and psyche. This means looking far past simple demographic stats to the motivations of your customers - why do they need you?
Try creating detailed buyer personas that explore these intangible factors driving your customers’ purchase decisions. You can create these idealized personas for one, several, or many of your customer archetypes. When you get insights into what your customers expect, it makes it that much easier to communicate with them and deliver on your promise.
- Blow away their customer service expectations
How does an upstart online pet food retailer take on Amazon and win? With ten-star customer service.
Chewy, Inc. is renowned for the care and attention it devotes to every customer, even going so far as to send flowers and a caring note if they learn that a customer’s pet died. The company was acquired for $3.5 billion by PetSmart in 2017 before going public in June 2019 and is currently valued at over $10 billion. There’s nothing a customer couldn’t get from Chewy that the world’s largest online retailer doesn't carry, yet Chewy boasts a loyal and growing customer base.
Likewise, your business can gain a massive edge by pouring its heart into every customer interaction. Customers value rapid and open communication along with a frictionless sales and returns process. Train your team to engage in active listening, to use positive language, and to display empathy in all of their customer interactions. Develop policies to do all of this and more - then commit to raising the bar at every opportunity.
- Seek feedback and show you genuinely care
Customer feedback is critical to your ongoing success because you get to hear directly from your customers about what is and isn’t working. They want ways to leave feedback on your website, across social media, and over the phone and to see that their recommendations are being implemented.
Get ahead of your customers and ask them for feedback first. You'll show that you value their opinion and that you care about what they have to say.
The first step is to encourage open feedback on your website, via email or through social media. After recording feedback, set up meetings with employees to find out how you can improve. A team that openly discusses ways to enhance products will prevent issues in the future once recommendations are implemented.
- Be consistent and timely in your interactions
Customers value consistency. They will not tolerate rudeness, neglect, or failure to deliver on promises.
Engage and connect regularly; your customers expect it. No one wants to be left out of the loop and contacted when you only have something to sell.
Develop a policy in your organization that outlines the manner and frequency with which you'll reply to clients. Don't use scripts and keep your interactions organic. Be sure to take notes of the interaction and keep them in a place that your entire staff can access if needed to maintain the relationship.
- Establish trust
Building trust is about being honest and open, even when it’s not a good look.
For example, if it will take an extra week for a product to be delivered or if a customer submits a request, such as a change to their website by a specific date, and you know you want to meet that deadline, let them know.
In most cases, a customer will be appreciative that you’ve kept them in the loop. Keeping them in the know builds trust.
When in doubt, ask yourself, “What is the best way to serve our customers?”
- Reward loyalty
Find a way to reward your most loyal customers to show them that they are top-of-mind.
Develop a loyalty program for your best customers and offer them free gifts, samples, or points toward rewards. You can also offer them special deals, discounts, or early access to new items. Once outsiders hear about these offers, they’ll also want to get in on the action.
Think of these incentives as an investment to retain customers. Be creative and remember to give them what they will appreciate.
-Queen City Media Team