An excellent service or product is a huge accomplishment. Yet, this isn’t enough to make sure your business will grow and thrive. There are many moving parts to any business, but the fuel that keeps it all moving is your customers. A company culture that values customers, cares about their experience and focuses on building meaningful relationships is essential to business success. It takes time, effort and dedication to develop strong personal relationships. It’s equally important to cultivate and consistently nurture relationships with your customers.
The Customer Experience
Companies strive to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive marketplace. There is a significant emphasis on creating a great customer experience. This concept can have multiple elements, but it boils down to the perception a customer has about your brand. It also extends far beyond providing quality customer service. Jason Friedman, the founder of CX Formula, explained the difference between the customer experience and customer service in a recent interview with Dr. Jeremy Weisz of Inspired Insider. “Customer experience is more than customer service. It has everything to do with getting into the customer’s shoes to know what he or she is feeling when interacting with members of your team,” Friedman says. “What do you want your customers to feel after interacting with your company?”
Marketing plays a key role in creating the high-level customer experience that companies seek to achieve. It has to do with everything a company says and does, at every level, to build and maintain loyal, enthusiastic and engaged customers. In this context, marketers are communicators who leverage knowledge of the marketplace (and their target markets) to persuade, inform, educate, announce and incite responses from customers and potential customers. Every communication or touchpoint offers marketers an opportunity to build a relationship. Why? Because people respond to what they hear, see, think and feel. The more frequently marketing demonstrates a focus on the target audience’s needs, concerns and challenges, the more likely the seller will be seen in a favorable light.
5 Ways to Build Relationships With Customers
- Lead with listening. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, coins as “empathetic listening,” or the ability to listen not only to the person’s words, but understanding what a person is feeling from their perspective.
- Ask the right questions. What do you need to know to address the needs of your clients? According to Sharon Drew Morgen, the thought leader behind the Buying Facilitation sales paradigm, the types of questions you ask are critical. “Questions posed with the goal of enabling others to change themselves and discover their own answers, can be a vehicle for true leadership, change and discovery. But not the conventional information-based ‘pull’ questions (based on curiosity and needs of Asker) we are accustomed to.” When done correctly, facilitative questions lead to answers that influence change and help the responder to ‘buy in’ early in the purchasing cycle.
- Communicate proactively. It’s better to check in with your customers and discover that little has changed, rather than wait for them to come to you with an issue that’s been festering. Reach out across the mediums that your customers use on a consistent basis. Create a schedule that provides enough check-ins but doesn’t overwhelm your contacts. Whether by text, email, direct mail, advertising, phone or video calls, external media exposure or in-person meetings, make sure they know you are interested in and committed to their success.
- Provide meaningful and valuable content. Develop and deliver messaging that demonstrates your knowledge of the marketplace and your customers’ challenges. Provide information your customers can use. This content increases credibility and visibility for your company. Plus, it can actively lead to innovative, collaborative and upgraded solutions for your network.
- Communicate with 73 percent of customers say they’re willing to pay more for products that promise total transparency. Keep customers up to date about changes and news that may impact them. Content must be based in fact, not bias. Create a culture of transparency by sharing user-generated content such as honest product reviews, responding to and addressing customers’ and prospects’ issues, and building reputation through employee advocates, case studies, testimonials and referrals. Most importantly, treat customers (and all stakeholders) with unwavering respect. A company culture reflects the brand and showcases what it’s like to have a relationship with your company. One survey showed that 78 percent of customers believe how a company treats its employees is one of the best indicators of its level of trustworthiness.
Care and Attention Build Loyalty
When organizations develop strong relationships with their customers, loyalty, reputation and revenue increase. In fact, 65 percent of a company’s business comes from existing customers. Keep in mind: while meaningful relationships require time and effort to build, they can fall apart quickly. Don’t take your business relationships for granted. Treat your customers with the utmost care and attention. The more you communicate with them and show them you care, the more meaningful and lasting your relationships will be.