Building strong customer relationships is how businesses are able to achieve solid customer retention and word-of-mouth advertising. Customers today want to be able to interact with trustworthy businesses that are able to relate to them and their needs. Building a customer relationship may not be easy, but doing so will pay dividends far into the future.
Develop a Solid Brand Voice and Identity
When you’re communicating with your customers, who are you communicating as? It certainly isn’t yourself — it’s your brand. Your brand will have an identity that is all its own. Though this identity may shift with the times, it has to remain internally consistent; otherwise, customers simply won’t know what to expect. Developing your brand identity is generally a matter of asking questions: Who are your core demographics? What are your company’s core values? How would you describe your company’s culture?
A clothing brand may be fun, flirty, and even a little dismissive — while a hardware company may be honest, direct, and forthright. But there’s no “right” answer when it comes to building out your brand identity; you just need to make sure that it aligns with your customer’s needs.
Engage With Your Customers Directly
Whether it’s a positive engagement or a mostly forgettable one, each engagement increases the odds that your customer will make a purchase (or continue to purchase) from your company. Most customers will engage with a company two or three times before they make a purchase, and each subsequent engagement makes the customer even more likely to complete a transaction with your business. It’s all about engagement. Reach out to your customers directly through social media and start a conversation. A relationship begins with the first “hello.”
Keep Up With Your Split-Testing
Split-testing, also known as a/b testing, is one of the very few reliable ways to actually determine whether your marketing campaigns are working. If you want to foster solid relationships with your customers, you need to experiment and find out what works with your key demographic. Create multiple campaigns and test them out against each other — whichever campaign performs the best is the campaign that you want to use moving forward.
Always Look at Your Analytics
Your analytic information is going to tell you a great deal about your customer’s needs and behaviors. How are your customers reacting to your products? Do they have more of an interest in a specific product or service? Even core demographic information can be incredibly valuable; in fact, your demographics may not be what you think they are. Ultimately you may find that your products and services are more interesting to certain subsets of the population. By targeting your advertising and communications towards these populations — such as specific age groups or genders — you will be able to speak directly to them in a way that they can relate to.
Make Yourself an Authority
A relationship isn’t just built upon one cornerstone. Not only do you want your customers to be interested in your products, but you also want your customers to be interested in your opinions. By producing interesting and informative content, you can establish yourself as an authority within your industry. Once your customers start coming to you for information and advice, they will be far more likely to engage with your business and purchase your products and services. Creating an authoritative reputation is one of the first steps towards building yourself as a trustworthy resource.
Follow Community and Charity Initiatives
Not only do charitable initiatives give back to your community, but they have also been shown as an excellent way to improve revenue. Charitable giving programs tend to make businesses more competitive by building up their reputation. A charitable gift, for instance, can easily be seen as free publicity. Green initiatives are especially popular for many small businesses. Not only do they build community goodwill and protect the environment, but they also tend to save a company a lot of money in terms of resources.
Correct Your Failures Quickly
Everyone has seen what happens when a business responds poorly to a customer complaint. Customer complaints do happen — and sometimes they aren’t the fault of the company itself. But most people aren’t going to remember the initial complaint (which is often highly public). Instead, they are going to remember how professional and courteous the business was in responding to the complaint. Building a customer relationship isn’t just about telling the customer what you’re going to do for them; it’s also about ensuring the customer that you will be there for them if something goes wrong.
Don’t be discouraged if building customer relationships is difficult at first — it takes time. Fostering a relationship with a customer base requires a significant amount of exposure, and customers often need to be familiarized with your business before they can feel comfortable trusting your products and your services. Even your failures will ultimately lead to success, as long as you keep moving forward and developing your strategies further.