Building strong relationships with customers has never been more important and is getting more difficult every day. Research shows that the point where you now make contact with a client is moving further and further down the sales funnel. The nature of customer relationships has changed dramatically. This is mostly because consumers interact differently with brands through ubiquitous technology like social media and mobile devices. The way you connect with your customers needs to be just as dynamic in order to stay alive.
Your network of contacts is your lifeline. Grow your network constantly with business colleagues, professional acquaintances, prospective and existing customers, partners, suppliers, contractors and association members, as well as family, friends and people you meet at school, church and in your community. But remember to also segment your list. When communication with your clients is personalized, it creates a whole new dynamic.
Relationships need to be taken care of just like you do a little baby. It needs constant and early attention. You can’t expect someone to remember you a year later after a once off introduction. When you meet someone at a networking event immediately make contact to strengthen that relationship. Send a “great to meet you” email. Follow up with an email to reinforce who you are and what your company does. Send them an email to tell them that you’ve added them to the company newsletter.
Be authentic with your customers. Make sure your company has a voice and owns that voice. Be genuine and be yourself. Deep, authentic passion, clear vision and great communication skills will build stronger and more trusting relationships with people, and will engage them better. Be a partner, not just a service provider. Make sure you understand your client’s business on the inside and out.
Build your reputation as an expert by giving away some free insight. Having a blog is a great way of doing this. Create content that your customers will want to read. When you send out newsletters don’t just sell, sell, sell. Today’s customers want to be engaged on a different level. Speak your customer’s language. Find out what is important to your customers and write about that. This will make you a thought leader and will build loyalty and trust.
“Don’t promise what you can’t deliver, and deliver everything you promise.” – Richard Branson
Trust is the glue that holds relationships together. Your customers and clients need to trust you. Trust is built by continuously and consistently doing what you said you would do. When you tell a customer you’ll call them back, do it. When you promise to follow-up, do it. Always be transparent in your business.
Reward loyal customers. As relationships develop, customers should always be ascending within your business. Introduce various levels of customer loyalty and have perks associated with each new level. Educate new customers about your loyalty programme and show them what a loyal customer looks like. Show customer testimonials. This also makes for great content for your blog posts, social media, and newsletters.