Overview: Without customers, a business just isn’t a business. Read on to learn why good customer relationships are so important, how to establish them… and just as importantly, how to keep them!
Last week, here on our blog, we talked about the importance of business owners making connections with other business owners to keep their companies growing and moving forward.
This week, we’d like to focus on another type of relationship that’s equally crucial to helping businesses survive and thrive: the relationship between business and customer.
How should you approach the goal of creating these relationships? How do you keep those customer relationships going once you’ve established them? In this blog post, we’ll share some of what we’ve learned.
The Benefits of Establishing Customer Relationships
Let’s start with the basics. Obviously, without customers our businesses couldn’t exist at all. This is true for every type of business — a barber needs people seeking haircuts, a pizzeria needs people hungry for pepperoni, and a birthday party clown needs parents eager to have balloon animals made for their youngsters.
If you can get a potential customer to notice you, you’ve already made a huge leap forward. Earning their trust and respect is another important early step, which will lead to earning something just as important — namely, the payment they’ll provide you for your products or services!
And when you can turn one-time customers into repeat customers, you’ve really got it made — especially considering the fact that loyal customers can also help bring in more new customers.
>> Related Reading: Growing Loyalty Through Customer Engagement
Here at MyUnlimitedWP, we’re big fans of taking a friendly, helpful, and not-too-formal approach to making contact with potential clients. We like to think of the first step of this approach as simply starting a conversation.
But when we talk about “starting conversations,” we’re not necessarily talking about cold-emailing a prospect out of the blue.
Think about sparking a relationship with a new customer the way you might think about making a new friend. How does a friendship start? Well, in “real life,” it generally starts when you strike up a conversation with a stranger, they respond, and if you’re both interested in continuing to chat and hang out, you go from there.
In our modern digital world, it’s a little different. Friendships can originate with a pleasant exchange in the comments of a post on a social media page, or even in a Discord server for people with a shared interest.
We’ve found it effective to apply the same idea to starting business relationships with customers. This is another reason we’re so enthusiastic about the networking platform Alignable, which allows users to start conversations with people in related industries and in their geographic vicinity.
>> Related Reading: The Beginner’s Guide to Conversational Marketing
When we respond to a post on Alignable — or LinkedIn, or any other platform — we’re not looking to jump directly to the “hard sell,” giving them a sales pitch or pressuring them to start a trial subscription to our services. We simply engage with them, answering their questions and offering information. We get great satisfaction out of sharing knowledge, and we truly appreciate learning from friends we’ve made online.
Which brings us to our next point…
Demonstrate Your Value
Generally speaking, most people are drawn to new friends with appealing qualities. We all want to be friends with, and stay friends with, the person who makes us laugh, listens to what we have to say, and offers to help us out when we need a hand.
Once again, you can put a similar dynamic in place when establishing business relationships with customers. As a business, one of your most appealing qualities to potential customers is your expertise in your field, so you should take every opportunity to demonstrate this.
You might do this by incorporating a live chat feature on your website, and keeping a knowledgeable employee on hand to respond during business hours. You could also feature your contact info prominently on your website, encouraging visitors to contact you with questions about your products and services. Even a simple FAQ page can go a long way.
Your social media accounts can provide another excellent opportunity to engage. Instead of waiting for customers to come to you seeking knowledge, you can ask them questions and respond to their answers, creating some back-and-forth engagement.
If you go this route, put some thought into what you want your social media “voice” to be. Do you want to come across as casual and slangy? Concise and businesslike? The type of business you’re in should inform this decision — if you run a funeral home, you might want to stay away from an irreverent, jokey tone!
Above all, let your customers know that you understand them. Through the content you post and the way you communicate one-on-one, you can show that you understand their needs, their feelings, and their frustrations.
Nobody wants to be treated as an anonymous nobody or an account number. When you make your customers feel heard, they’ll appreciate being seen as human beings — and they’ll see your business as an organization run by human beings rather than a faceless corporation.
Make a Transaction
After consistently working to establish customer relationships, at some point — with a little luck and a lot of hard work — you’ll arrive at the point where you’re ready to make a transaction!
Typically, your transaction will come when a potential customer has come to trust you enough to invest their hard-earned money in your products or services. But maybe that person isn’t quite ready to make a sale just yet. If that’s the case, don’t despair — they might just recommend you to a friend or colleague who’s seeking a reputable business that does what you do!
However the transaction comes about, for best results, make sure your customer knows exactly what they’re getting and exactly much it’s going to cost them. And of course, deliver — or better yet, over-deliver — on what you’ve promised! A customer who walks away from a transaction feeling like they’ve overpaid or been underserved is not a customer who will return.
Maintain the Relationship
It’s a wonderful thing when you attract new customers — and it’s even more wonderful when you can keep them coming back!
Depending on the type of business you’re in, this can take many forms: If you sell products, you can offer a loyalty program with rewards, and offer discount codes to repeat customers.
If you offer in-person services, make an effort to remember specific details about each customer. It might sound like a small thing to ask “How’s your dog Rex doing?” but it goes a long way toward showing your customer that you care.
You don’t have to get excessively personal, but make an effort to remember your customers’ stories. When you talk to them after time has elapsed, and you ask follow-up questions (“How was that vacation you went on?”) it can make them feel like you’ve really been listening to them.
>> Related Reading: These 7 Methods Will Make Every Customer Feel Valued
We hope this blog post has given you a few new ideas on how your business can establish customer relationships, from those early conversations to transactions and beyond.
If you have any questions about any of this, don’t hesitate to contact us or drop us a line on Facebook, LinkedIn, Alignable, or anywhere you can find us! And if you’d like to learn more about how you can take advantage of our expertise at website support, we’d love to talk about that too. We look forward to establishing a relationship with you!