Building customer relationships is crucial for any business. Even if you have a high-quality product or service, it’s still only half the battle — actively nurturing long-term relationships is the most surefire way to achieve steady revenue and word-of-mouth marketing.
If you’re wondering how, read on to see our tips for building customer relationships that last.
But, before we get into the list...
Building customer relationships is important because they increase customer lifetime value (CLV), reduce customer churn, and spread brand awareness.
More specifically, building customer relationships the right way can help you:
Here are some pointers to help you create long-term, trusting relationships with new and existing customers:
The first step in building good customer relationships is to have a clear customer-focused vision to communicate with your staff. Consider that customer-centric companies are 60 percent more profitable than companies that don’t focus on customers — this is evidence that putting customers first is essential to truly engage your customers.
The easiest way to define this vision is by creating a set of guiding principles. A prime example of this is Zappos and its Family Core Values.
While these values are not written for customers only, they refer to many customer service best practices: going above and beyond, communicating honestly, and focusing on relationships. These values are embedded into their culture and practiced throughout the company.
Once you have your own vision in place, make sure it drives the behavior of your staff. Always ensure that each and every team member of your organization is aware of the guiding principles — make sure you use these guidelines for training and development, too.
To make building relationships easier, communicating with customers should be effortless. And this means you need to meet customers wherever they are online, on multiple channels. This is what we call an “omnichannel strategy.”
Imagine you have customers who prefer contacting you via email, others via social media, and others via live chat. Some customers will start with live chat and then decide to get on the phone. Or, an agent has to pass a customer over to another agent, mid-conversation. So here’s the tricky part: how do you make sure no information or rapport is lost through all these changes?
Being truly omnichannel solves this issue. Use the right strategy and technology to switch channels without interruption and maintain the natural conversation flow. A customer experience platform can also help you see interaction history to personalize experiences — a big plus to building trust and long-term relations.
Create a feedback loop with your team and encourage constructive discussions. This way, you will create a conversational culture that will trickle down from your manager-agent relationships to your agent-customer relationships.
Another important aspect is to hire and train for the right skills. Building long-term relationships requires a specific skill set. Try to cultivate the following abilities in your team of customer service representatives:
A key element to nurturing customer relationships is knowing which customer you’re talking to each time. How can you have a relationship with someone who’s nothing more to you than a support ticket or a dollar sign?
That’s why personalizing interactions shows customers you see them as individual people and care about their needs. Personalization can be simple, like using their name in an email. It can also be advanced, like sending automated offers by analyzing purchase and browsing history.
Another aspect is making sure that each direct interaction between customers and agents is contextual — if the customer, for example, has had an issue before, it helps if the agent knows that and tells the customer they’re going to try a new solution. This is all part of creating a conversational customer experience.
Agents can’t humanly be there for customers 24/7, and it’s not always feasible to hire for more shifts. AI chatbots can be the solution you need to never stop building customer relationships — even after hours.
Chatbots work seamlessly to answer routine questions and can work in tandem with your knowledge base. Another great thing about AI chatbots is that they can help onboard your new customers wherever they are. For example, imagine you are based in the U.S. while your client is in Belgium. Due to the time zone difference, it may be difficult to welcome your new customers in a timely way. This is where you can take the help of AI-powered chatbots.
But most importantly, when chatbots handle routine customer questions, human agents have more time to focus on building relationships — e.g. resolving more complex issues or proactively reaching out to customers.
Asking for someone’s opinion is a great way to develop a two-way communication path with them. And that can lead to a fruitful and long-lasting relationship.
Not only should you pay attention to the feedback given to you voluntarily, but you should also seek it out proactively. Consider that only one out of every 26 customers is likely to bring up complaints on their own. The other 25 customers will simply take their business elsewhere without a word. This means that it’s important to let customers know they have a voice and ask them questions regularly.
Some ways to seek feedback are through email surveys (or even via SMS or WhatsApp) or standard CSAT or NPS surveys. Once you gather feedback from your customers and identify areas of improvement, act on them. This is the final test for customers to see that you actually care about their opinion and your surveys aren’t just a formality. This can create loyal customers, ultimately resulting in building better relationships with customers.
Sentiment analysis is a method that uses NLP (natural language processing) to assess the emotions of text automatically. For example, in customer service, you can use this technology to understand what your customers feel when they interact with your products, services, or brand (e.g., on social media).
This helps you build customer relationships because it fills a communication gap: the understanding of emotions on a large scale. Imagine, for example, you launch a new product, and reviews start flooding in. With sentiment analysis, you can get insight into whether people like this product or not, allowing you to get feedback or offer support proactively.
The same goes for customer service interactions, where you can use sentiment analysis to evaluate your team’s performance in appeasing frustrated customers. It may also be possible to sort customer support messages by tone to prioritize extremely negative ones, making it easier to maintain relationships.
At the end of the day, it’s building trust that will help you build a solid customer base. The more transparent and honest you are with your customers at every stage of their purchasing process, the better for building customer relationships. Just put them first, understand their needs, and ask for their opinion when you can.
What do you think goes into building great customer relationships? Let us know with a comment below.
Vivek Asrani is a prolific writer by passion. He has more than 10 years in the content writing domain. Vivek has done post graduation in Communications Management from MICA university. He passionately researches and writes about trending topics on customer experience for Acquire.