Every business depends on its customers. There are no exceptions. If you want to be successful, you have to invest in improving customer relationships.
You have to really care about your customers. A great way to start is to shift your sales priorities from “selling your product/service” to “making customers happy with the help of your product/service”.
You need to show attention and appreciation to your customers. Reach out and talk to them during key moments in the customer’s journey, and reward them for staying loyal to your brand.
Be consistent with your efforts. Customers don’t become loyal overnight. Rather, it’s a journey and your job is to earn their trust and become a brand they enjoy doing business with.
Your business depends on your customers. Period.
Regardless of the industry, product, or service that you provide, it will all be nothing without old and new customers. Especially the old ones. This fact alone is enough to take the time and learn how to maintain high customer retention rates and increase customer lifetime value as much as possible.
Also, existing customers are known to do a lot of free marketing for the brands they love. Research shows that over 90% of people trust recommendations from friends and family members more than any other form of marketing. In this article, I will share the 6 most compelling customer relationship reinforcement strategies, which are easy to understand and implement. Moreover, those have proven to deliver results for many brands across the globe – you’ll know it’s true by the examples.
Here we go.
1. Care about your customers, constantly.
The most important step you have to take when building healthy and strong customer relationships is to be real. You can’t be fake. Ever. This kind of behavior will instantly get sniffed out by customers and, make no mistake, they will go out of their way to tell as many people about it as possible. Let’s look at the facts:
- In 91% of the cases, customers stop buying from a brand after a negative customer experience.
- Good customer experiences lead to repeat purchases in 42% of the cases.
- Unhappy customers typically tell 9 to 20 people about their negative experiences.
- Happy customers share their positive experiences with 3 to 8 people.
Unhappy customers simply want to see your brand burn, and it’s very hard to fix the damage when it’s already done.
This is why you have to shift your sales priorities from “selling your product/service” to “making customers happy with the help of your product/service”. Also, don’t forget about brand authenticity. If you are a small business, the best way to compete with larger players is to be your real self. This is one of the main reasons why customers decide to trust a smaller brand.
2. Be attentive to your customers at the right time
One of the best ways to nail your customer relationship management goals is to actually talk to your customers during the key moments. This is especially effective if a C-level representative is doing the talking, but a customer support specialist will work just fine.
The key moments are the following:
- Right after making a purchase – Engaging your customers (via email or phone) right after they buy and thanking them for the purchase will be highly appreciated. Taking this extra step will require only a few minutes of your time, but it will go a long way, escalating the chances of them doing business with you dramatically.
- Dealing with a complaint – When a customer has a complaint, this should be viewed as an opportunity. Talk to the customer, understand the issue, and go out of your way to solve it. If for some reason you can’t solve it, then compensate it in some way. I can tell you that this gets the job done from personal experience. This one time, I was shopping at a relatively small e-commerce website and they sent me the wrong color of the shirt I purchased. I contacted customer support. Their response? They simply sent me the color I wanted without any questions with a message “please keep the other item and accept our apologies”. The result? I have become a repeat buyer for over 3 years now.
- Ask for feedback – Another way to make customers feel appreciated is by asking for their feedback regarding your product/service. You don’t have to do this too frequently, but it’s a big plus. For example, you could send early beta access to a new feature you’re planning to roll out and see what they have to say. If you decide to implement their suggestion, send them a thank you note and maybe even share it on social media by thanking and tagging them in your post.
3. Speak to Your Customers, regularly.
It’s important that you communicate with your customers on a regular basis. Don’t reach out only when there is something wrong, they have a complaint, or simply need assistance. Regular communication once again goes to show that you care for your customers. This is easily achieved with the help of a newsletter, but social media can work just as well.
4. Create a sense of community, always.
People buy into brands, not products. A great way to strengthen customer relationships is to show them that your brand resonates with their values, needs, and wants. One of the best examples of this strategy has been demonstrated by Apple, with their “Think Different” campaign. The brand went to show that they make computers for innovative people, not just everyone out there. They also showcased Einstein to further enhance the point. Einstein wasn’t just a smart person – he was also an innovator and inventor who wanted to create a better future.
When customers buy Apple products, they consider themselves as a part of this community of smart and remarkable people. As a result, they form a much deeper connection with the brand and are more than happy to pay a little over the average price for the same product. You’ve certainly heard the term “Apple Zombies”, right? Well, there it is.
The same trend can be seen with Tesla. Tesla isn’t just making “good electronic cars”. The brand promotes bold thinking and innovation, which is what Elon Musk represents. Actually, in most cases, people who buy a Tesla aren’t millionaires or show-offs – they are people who resonate with these values.
The easiest step to take toward building a community is to clearly communicate what your brand stands for. You can use multiple channels for this – social media, website, emails, marketing materials, etc. If you can do this correctly, you’ll build customer relationships even before they make a purchase, simply due to the mutual value resonation with people who share your views and vision. And most importantly, in case your company gets attacked with negativity at some point, customers will rise up and defend you, because they will feel like they are defending themselves.
5. Reward loyal customers, often.
Rewarding your loyal customers through a loyalty program can go a long way. A lot of the time, customers simply want to be appreciated for sticking with your brand for so long. And even if they don’t expect anything, it’s always great to receive appreciation in some form.
The simplest ways to show your support to repeat customers are discounts upon reaching a certain milestone and special offers. You could add a little complexity to this system by offering special discount codes (which give up to 75% discounts) to the absolute top clients. This strategy is being implemented by Kate Spade, a renowned fashion designer. These gestures often don’t cost much when compared to the total lifetime value of a customer. Additionally, loyal customers are worth, on average, 10 times their initial purchase.
Defining loyal customers is entirely up to you. There is no general guideline to apply here. You may choose to start enrolling customers into the loyalty program based on total purchase history, purchasing frequency, or both. It really depends on your business and customer base.
It’s also worth personalizing your special offers. For example, if you’re an online retailer and you can determine that a customer is really interested in a given brand based on their purchase history, offering large discounts for that brand specifically can go a long way. A personalized loyalty program is easier to implement for small businesses with a small pull of buyers. However, a general loyalty program does have merits as well, so make sure you start doing this ASAP. After all, those customers could’ve used a different brand, but they choose you. Show your gratitude.
6. Be consistent, indefinitely.
If there is one thing that any seasoned marketing or business development expert will recommend to you regarding your CRM model, is consistency. Make communication regular, remind customers about your brand, and keep them posted on updates and exciting news. This will prove, time and again, that you’re trying your best to offer a great service to your customers and really want to make them happy.
At the end of the day, you have to recognize that business is, first and foremost, about people. Treat your customers well, and you will improve your relationships. It’s that simple. It may not happen overnight, but the compound over time effect will absolutely be worth it.