Let’s face it, your business would be nowhere without your customers. With low barriers to entry, it isn’t enough to deliver a quality product or service anymore. The way you treat your customers and your relationship with them is what will differentiate you from competitors.
It is no surprise then that in a recent survey by SuperOffice, customer experience was found to be the number one priority for businesses for the next 5 years. Building and maintaining customer relationships will ensure your customers have a positive experience with your company.
How can small business owners strengthen their customer relationships? We asked this question to eight small business professionals to learn their best tips and tricks to building better customer relationships.
Identify Shared Interests
As a Director of Client Services, it is my job to create strong relationships with my clients. I find the best way to do so is by identifying our shared interests. In the first five minutes of your conference call, try doing more than just small talk. Ask them about their families or exciting plans they have coming up and be sure to circle back on these topics each time you connect. It shows them that you care about them! Through this practice, I have found that a client and I grew up in neighboring towns and that another client and I share the same taste in music. These small details make a huge difference in the long-run.
-Nikitha Lokareddy, Markitors
Our firm represents victims of bad accidents. Frequently, they’re unable to work and provide for their families, they’re in severe pain, or they have huge medical expenses. This creates a lot of stress. We recognize that hiring a personal injury lawyer is a stressful experience. We diligently communicate with our clients to reassure them that their case is being worked on and moving forward. Occasionally, we receive phone calls from clients who are represented by other lawyers. Poor communication is the most common reason that clients terminate the attorney-client relationship.
-Hunter Garnett, Warren & Simpson
Understand What’s Driving Their Behavior
Small businesses can strengthen their customer relationships by taking the time to really understand what is driving behavior. This is usually in the form of a problem that is causing the customer pain. When you can address that issue on an emotional level you become the trusted guide in their story. Being able to segment your positioning based on your individual customer needs provides a huge competitive advantage.
-Lukas Ruebbelke, Briebug
Proactive Security Measures
Small business owners can strengthen their relationships with their customers by taking a proactive approach to the security of said customers. They can take action by following some basic rules when it comes to securing their data. A small business can make sure they encrypt private data. Use strong passwords. Practice good cyber hygiene, and familiarize themselves with the steps they must take if a breach of private data does occur.
-Aaron Jones, UAT
A great way to strengthen relationships is to leverage technology to create records about interactions with your customers. Take notes about specific conversations, preferences, and requests for future services/products/enhancements. Use this information to reach out both at expected times (like birthdays, anniversaries) and the unexpected. For example, you might send a note with a special one-to-one promotion targeted to their shopping behavior, or let them know you put aside an item that came in for pre-sale before anyone else.
-Nicole Spracale, Coaching and Consulting
Mix Education with Marketing
Mix educational and informational information with promotional messages. Reach out regularly to survey your customers to see what issues related to your business are most important to them. Then make it obvious on your website, email traffic, and social media that you acknowledge their interests by providing useful content.
-Jeff Williams, Bizstarters
One very simple way that small business owners can strengthen their customer relationships is by following up with customers. Many business owners fail in following up. Follow up with prospects. Follow up with current clients. Follow up with past clients. By not following up you could be missing out on sales, other opportunities, and showing value. It’s easy to do. Not following up on a proposal could cost you the sale. Not following up with a brand-new customer could cost you future sales. Not following up with past clients could cost you not getting them back as a client. It’s simple and easy to do. They know you. Just follow up with them to see how everything is going with your product or service.
-Steve Feld, Business Breakthrough Strategist
Immense Value From the Start
The best way to strengthen customer relationships is to provide immense value right from the start. First impressions are critical, particularly in branding and marketing. By giving your customers a ton of initial value, they will have a great first impression of your brand. And in turn, it will lead to stronger overall customer relationships.
-Axel DeAngelis, NameBounce
This post was written by Brett Farmiloe and originated on SCORE.