Anyone who has studied the art of business even apart from entrepreneurs will know that ‘the customer is the king’. Maintaining a good customer relationship strategy is what drives a business and dictates the growth of that business. Not only should companies actively form customer relationships through their products, marketing, and other activities, they must also be maintained further down the line.
Many companies have ignored customers to gain short-term benefits and these are the companies that are losing out on sales, market share, and revenue. These are the companies that no one talks about anymore. On the other hand, the companies you hear positively about are the companies that have formed relationships with their customers, kept them happy, and kept them coming back.
This article is written to guide any entrepreneur with an overview of the avenues by which any company can be on the right footing towards building customer relationships that are long-lasting and profitable.
The principles of building profitable relationships with customers
You should do all you can in order to create customer relationships and keep them strong. This is more than just a set of suggestions, applying it in practice becomes a complete methodology that you will be able to form and outline yourself.
Here are some of the principles that will get you started in the right direction:
1- Communication: There is a good reason why this is the first on the list. It is the basic consideration and everything else comes after it. Communication is an essential tool for the building of customer relationships. Promoting your business is important, yes, but equally important is listening to your customers. Beyond advertisements, when there is an opportunity to engage customers in conversations, take the opportunity, and show them solutions to their problems.
Train your employees to communicate effectively with the customers as your employees are the first point of contact with your business for your customers. Customer service should be a focal feature of your relationship-building strategy and it should be active at all times. Make sure support center calls are answered properly and emails replied promptly.
2- Keep raising the bar: If you have built a customer following, it is because they expect great products and services from you. People keep buying cars built and designed by Toyota because they have come to expect solidly built, reliable cars from them. Toyota excels at making cars for basic transportation because they have a policy of under-promising and then over-delivering. They continue to impress customers and consequently, they keep coming back. Your company should be continually striving to provide better products and better services; there is always room for improvement within the many processes of the business operation.
You can exceed customer expectations in other ways such as delivering a product or services faster than anticipated or with added bonuses. A simple strategy of continuously surprising the customer works great in keeping your customers coming back, although discretion is advised.
3- Take feedback: This is the important element in making your customers feel listened to. Whether they have a good or bad opinion about your products or services, they will make their feelings known more often than not. Inviting them to provide feedback for you shows that you are listening and are willing to improve. To this end, you can conduct surveys or ask them to leave comments on your social media portals. Customer feedback helps in honing your understanding of your customers’ specific needs and adding to it so that you can find the best solutions to their problems.
The growth of your business goes up directly in line with the increasing ability of your offerings to meet their needs. Regardless if it’s a compliment or a complaint, listen closely and respond promptly. Negative feedback is also valuable and is the most important aspect of the concept of taking feedback as these are the type of feedback with the true capacity to help you improve your business.
4- Connect: Technology has opened up more ways to interact directly with your customers than ever before. Social media stands out as the most prominent method of communication everywhere. Every big company has a considerable presence on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Constant engagement with your customers through these portals should be necessary since, for many of them, it could be their only way of connecting with you.
This can be supplemented and augmented with the use of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software such as Odoo which can be integrated with your social media portals. Management of your online presence can be done with total ease through the use of ERP software. Building your website is also a crucial part of connecting with your customers and you can create a blog to supplement this and of course, ERP software can help with this.
5- Appreciate your customers: This is the final element in rounding up a storied and lengthy long-term relationship with your customers as it does the work of attracting new customers to your business so that you can repeat the cycle and then achieve exponential growth. You can reward long-time customers with a loyalty discount program or hand out reward cards. A loyalty program can involve customers earning points for buying your goods or services and after earning a certain number of points, they can get a reward.
You can also give away inexpensive branded products and merchandise such as pens, notepads, or pieces of clothing. It is an effective way of thanking your customers for staying with you.
It would be a big mistake for you to overlook the interests and needs of your customers for any other factor. You can only build a loyal base of customers who can take your business to greater heights by managing a profitable customer relationship, the backbone of your business.