Relationships are not just for your personal life. They can be just as important, if not more, in business. Read on to find out why, and how to cultivate crucial customer relationships.
When it comes to their business, a lot of companies like to be viewed as “all business”: no distractions, no idle talk, just serious business.
But clients and customers want and need more than that. They need to feel connected.
Businesses are built on connections. Connections to clients and customers, connections to employees, and to their community. These connections are vital to the success of any company. They help people to see the long-term value of your products and services, and encourage them to achieve their goals with your business.
The Impact of Relationships in Business
When people think of what makes businesses successful, they don’t often think about relationships. They’ll think of great products and services, or amazing customer service. While they aren’t wrong, these aspects are often presented in one-time transactions. What happens after a client or customer makes a purchase is left up in the air.
After sales, those lulls in between purchases, those times where the business doesn’t seem all too busy– these moments are actually critical. It is in these moments where customers can be turned into repeat customers; where referrals are inspired, and customer loyalty is developed. These are the moments that present great opportunities for more: more purchases, more customers, more loyalty, and overall, greater success. But in order to seize these opportunities, you need to develop relationships.
Relationships create great experiences, and for most customers, a great experience is just as important as the actual product or service that they purchase. Relationships develop trust, and when customers trust you they are more likely to purchase again from you. Repeat customers can be very profitable. They are 60-70% more likely to convert (perform an action you would like them to take, such as fill out a form or subscribe to a newsletter), and they tend to spend more the next time around.
When you develop a relationship with your customers, they are more likely to talk directly to you about a problem or concern they may have. This is particularly crucial these days, when a lot of people choose to publicize their concerns on social media rather than talk directly to the people or company involved. Such public, negative posts and bad ratings can be very detrimental to a brand and company. It can cause them to lose money, customers (both existing and potential customers), and may even cause companies to close down for good.
So while it may not seem like a priority, building customer relationships is a critical part of being in business. And there are plenty of ways you can do so.
How to Build Relationships with Customers
You might already be doing this, but doing so purposefully can make a big difference. Being more mindful about building customer relationships lets you reach out to all of your customers instead of just a select few, and you get more repeat and loyal customers as a result.
Here are some of the practical steps you can take to build more and better customer relationships:
- Talk to customers. That seems like a no-brainer, but many times business owners can be so focused on running their business that they forget to actually talk to the people patronizing it. You don’t need to pry into each customer’s personal life, but getting to know them, how your business is helping them, and showing a genuine interest in their experiences with your business shows them that you care. As you’re doing this, don’t forget to take the next step:
- Get feedback. You can’t know all the ways you can improve your business unless you get feedback from your customers. And as we’ve already pointed out, getting customer feedback directly is always much better than seeing negative feedback being blasted on social media or some other public platform. If you do get a negative review online, make sure to reply promptly to that customer and make it right for them. Not only will they appreciate your efforts to make amends, but others will also read about it, and all of them will view your business positively instead of negatively.
- Offer excellent customer service. Make sure you address issues and complaints promptly and appropriately; follow up with customers or clients now and again to make sure they have a great experience with you; and ask if there is anything else you could be doing for them. Great customer service builds a solid base for customer relationships, and can create a customer for life.
- Encourage online and social media engagement. These days, practically everyone is online and on social media. If you want to build relationships with your customers, you’ll need to reach them where they are online. Have an automated chatbot ask your website visitors what they’re looking for in particular; welcome contact throughout your website; and regularly post relevant updates on your social media channels. Managing your business website and social media accounts while also managing your business may be tricky, so hiring offshore IT staff to help manage your online presence may be the best move here.
- Reach out on various mediums. There are many other ways to reach out and talk to customers. You could send them an email, offer a newsletter, send SMS messages, even give them a phone call from time to time. You shouldn’t pester them with constant communication, but keeping in touch every once in a while is a good way to develop that relationship, and keep your company and brand at the top of their mind. One example of doing this is by sending a simple birthday message to your customers on their birthday. Research done by Fulcrum showed that 75% of customers that received birthday messages from a business thought more highly of that business, and 88% of those positive responses led to an increase in brand loyalty.
- Provide tailor-made offers. Encourage increased sales and engagement by providing tailor-made offers to customers. You could create loyalty programs with different levels, points, discounts, and rewards. You could offer free gifts for minimum spends, bonus items, or free shipping and returns. Or you could create customized offers based on your customers’ spending patterns and purchase history. All this will require some work looking into each customer’s interactions with your business, so it would be wise to use a customer relationship management (CRM) system and/or hire offshore IT staff to handle this system for you.
Building customer relationships is essential for business longevity. When you have good, solid relationships with your customers, you can be assured of continued patronage, loyalty, and a higher likelihood of repeat business, and even referrals.
Building customer relationships can entail a lot of work, but the rewards are well worth it. To make sure you’re able to stay on top of managing your business while cultivating crucial customer relationships, it would be wise to hire offshore IT staff to take care of customer relations for you. Offshore IT roles include developers (for keeping your business website updated and engaging), social media managers and content creators, customer service representatives, CRM specialists, and more. Offshore IT staff are often a lot more affordable than onshore ones, and being based remotely offers plenty of other benefits to employers. Learn more about offshoring and how to easily hire the right offshore IT staff for your company by getting in touch with CoDev today.