Building customer relationships
When you started your business, you had a great idea. You took that idea and turned it into a high-quality, reliable product or service. You hired a team of superstars who know everything there is to know about it. You know that your offering and your employees are some of the best in your industry, yet you feel growth stagnating. Revenue has plateaued – or worse.
What’s missing? You were too busy focusing on the mechanics of building a business and didn’t take the time to focus on building customer relationships.
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Why is connecting with customers important?
The days when sales success depended on telemarketing scripts and mottos like “always be closing” are over. Today the success of your business depends on one thing: learning how to build customer relationships. When you do, you’ll see benefits throughout your sales cycle.
Grow your company
The number one way to grow your company is to obtain new customers. But how do you get them to go from browsing to buying? How do you get them to choose you over the competition? You need to be able to influence them. And to do that, you need strategies for building relationships with customers.
It’s a common adage in business that it’s five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one. It’s true. New customers are exciting, but for long-term stability, you also need to keep them coming back. By building customer relationships, you can find out what your customers need and provide it before they go somewhere else.
Boost customer value
With customer loyalty comes increased lifetime value, or the amount of money your customers spend with you over time. When customers trust your product or service, they’ll expand their purchases and increase their order values.
Customers who trust you and love your product will also refer others to your business and share glowing reviews. Word of mouth is a powerful lead generator, and connecting with customers leads to a positive reputation and plenty of referrals.
How to build customer relationships
Building customer relationships has a very real impact on your bottom line, but it isn’t always easy. You’ll need the right skills, but also the right marketing strategies. Successful business owners have figured out how to use certain strategies for building relationships with customers on a deeper level.
Business owners often make the mistake of thinking that selling means talking, when the truth is that selling means listening. When was the last time you really listened to your customers? Have you asked them for feedback recently? If you’re having trouble building customer relationships, it may be time to start practicing deep listening in your interactions: make eye contact, mirror their body language, provide nonverbal feedback and truly be present. You’ll be surprised at the connections you make.
There’s a reason listening comes before communication: You need to listen before you can reply in a meaningful way. Once you have a good idea of what your customers want, craft a brand identity and marketing message that addresses their needs. Communicate your X factor clearly, consistently and frequently. Don’t give up when you’ve made the sale. Continue connecting with customers to keep the relationship going.
3. Focus on solutions
Communication will get you nowhere if your message is off the mark. Think about your emails, advertisements and other marketing materials. Do you focus on solutions for your customer or do you focus solely on your product? Don’t make the mistake of falling in love with your product over your customer. Focus on solving their pain points, and building customer relationships will follow naturally.
4. Be honest
Misleading marketing may get you the sale, but it won’t get you long-term, sustainable growth. Customers will catch on if you’re being dishonest – just ask Elizabeth Holmes, the notorious entrepreneur who faces criminal charges for lying about her company, Theranos. It doesn’t take such large-scale dishonesty to turn off customers. Provide accurate shipping times. Create fair policies for returns. Answer customer questions clearly. Trust is the foundation for building customer relationships.
5. Offer rewards
Everyone likes to feel special. Significance is one of the Six Human Needs, even for the most humble among us. This is why loyalty and rewards programs go a long way toward connecting with customers. Set up a graduated rewards program in which the more customers spend, the more they get back – either via a discount or a freebie. Give clients swag like T-shirts and hats with your logo on it. You’ll keep your company top of mind and keep them coming back.
6. Train your team
Your team may know everything about what your product does and how it’s made, but if they’re not able to build rapport with customers, they’ll never connect. Train your team on all of the above strategies, as well as how to provide excellent customer service at every stage of the buyer journey. All your work learning how to build customer relationships can unravel if you don’t keep them happy with amazing service.
Want more strategies for building relationships with customers?
Learn how to define your X factor, consistently add value and create customers for life with the 7 Forces of Business Mastery content series.