The key to a successful business is building relationships that go beyond one-time transactions and provide value to clients on a consistent, ongoing basis.
A study by White House Office of Consumer Affairs found that 80% of U.S. consumers would pay more to ensure a superior customer experience. Investing in the development of healthy customer relationships increases customer loyalty and builds long-term value, resulting in higher conversion rates and referrals, as well as a larger share of wallet! However, winning customers and building loyalty doesn’t happen overnight. Building strong customer relationships requires nurturing and a consistent effort on your part.
Start building better relationships with these 5 simple strategies:
- Create authentic conversations. Throw away the sales script, and be the real, authentic you. Customers want to be treated and spoken to just like real people. When speaking to customers make sure you use their names, make jokes and be polite but conversational. When they’re doing the talking, listen–really listen. Don’t interrupt them, make eye contact, and use nonverbal engagement (i.e., head nod, smile).
- Communicate. Keep the lines of communication open and communicate often. Be transparent with your services and make sure your customers have a timeline of what to expect from you. Ask your customers what their preferred method of communications it, be it text, email, a phone call. Communicate often with pricing updates and recap every conversation by putting it in writing. Don’t forget to respond promptly–when a client emails you, acknowledge the receipt of the email as quickly as possible, even if you do not have the answer at the moment. Acknowledging the receipt of their request offers customers comfort and shows that they are your priority!
- Build trust. Be open and honest, even if it means telling your customer “don’t buy that.” Doing so will build respect and brand advocacy among your customers, because they know you have their best interest at heart. According to a Concerto Marketing Group and Research Now survey, when customers trust a brand, 83% will recommend the brand to others and 82% will continue to use that brand frequently. Being a useful resource also builds trust. The more value you offer, the more a client comes to depend on you. Don’t hesitate to share information clients may find useful, whether or not it benefits you in any way. For example, provide helpful tips on planning their wedding. Check out theknot.com for some great ideas!
- Actively seek customer feedback. Get your customers to weigh in on features, products or services that would interest them. Always listen carefully and respond in a manner that lets them know you understand the suggestions or critiques they have offered. Thank the client even if the comments are negative, this lets them know that they are at the heart of everything you do, and will keep them coming back for more.
- Treat every client as your most important one. Simply put, happy clients are more likely to make referrals. Provide all clients with your best service, regardless of whether it is a small or big opportunity. You never know who your clients may know or how much their opinion is valued among their peers. Walt Disney said it best, “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” Creating love between your company and your customers can help scale positive word of mouth that’s absolutely priceless.
Creating customer relationships is key to running a successful business. The stronger the relationships with your customers, the greater will be their trust and loyalty in your business. Take the time to invest in these key relationship-building strategies and watch your business grow!
How do you create meaningful customer relationships?
Source: ( HBR, 8/14; Inc.com 10/14; Mashable 10/13)