We often take relationships for granted. Building and maintaining them takes work. Even in our day-to-day lives, we need to work on our friendships. Some relationships require less than others, of course, but none should be taken for granted. In the same way, improving customer relationships should be an ongoing process.
Why should we bother improving customer relationships?
Having a good relationship between company and customer boosts customer loyalty, engagement, and advocacy. All of these things help build better customer service and, because of it, improve a company’s productivity and performance. As we like to say at AQ: the frontline impacts the bottom line!
For many businesses, improving customer relationships can seem like a lot of work: why not simply make the sale and move on? To counter: why let go of existing, satisfied customers when they could buy from you again? Contrary to believe, improving customer relationships isn’t as much work as it sounds, and besides, it’s something every company should be doing anyways:
Connect with your customers on a human level. People like to connect with other people. Think of the last time you walked into your favourite coffee shop and you were greeted by name. It may betray your caffeine addiction but it also proves that the staff recognize that you’re a person. Communication skills are one of the top requirements for great customer service performance.
Part of being able to communicate with another human being is being able to understand what they’re all about. Empathizing with customers allows us to get a good feel for their needs and requirements and how we might best provide a solution. Empathy is all about letting a customer know that this about them, not about us, and is a vital element of improving customer relationships.
When a customer provides negative feedback, it’s important to listen to it. Listening to criticism and feedback is a good way to understand what your customers think about your product or service. Choosing to ignore this information can be detrimental to future growth; after all, if there’s something wrong and your customers have told you about it, then they won’t come back until it’s fixed. Feedback, negative or otherwise, is the best way to get your customers’ perspective on your company.
As with every relationship, a customer relationship requires commitment. No, don’t run away – we’re not saying you have to marry them, just that once you’ve decided to go down the road of improving customer relationships, you’re going to have to stick with it. That means keeping in touch with your customers, listening to their needs, empathizing with them, and communicating relevant company information to them, on a regular basis. Relationships take work, and you have to be committed to making them work.
5. Build Trust
Every healthy relationship hinges on integrity. Being honest with your customers is the best way to make sure that there are no miscommunications. You can’t sell your customer what you don’t have, and if you don’t know the answer to their questions it’s better to admit ignorance – and promise to find out – than to something up and give them the wrong information. What’s that old adage? ‘The truth will out’? You can always count on people finding out the truth, and if it’s not what you’ve told them, you can certainly say goodbye to that customer, and all their personal connections, forever.
How will improving customer relationships boost my business again?
By putting some effort into training employees – and management! – into building customer relationships, your company is automatically improving its customer service. Better customer service means satisfied customers, engaged employees, and both those things lead to the closing of more and better sales.
The frontline really does impact the bottom line!