How To Build Customer Relationships That Last A Lifetime
Building customer relationships is a critical part of growing a business. It’s not enough to simply start a company and treat each customer as if they’re just another business transaction. You have to engage with your customers, get to know them, and understand their needs.
Spending time connecting with your customers is an investment, but by doing so, your customers will be happier and feel more connected to your brand, and your business will reap the benefits.
We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better – Jeff Bezos
Why is building customer relationships important?
The importance of building customer relationships boils down to two things: happier customers, and a more successful business. It’s a win-win. Customers no longer stay with a company just because the product is good enough. Service matters now more than ever.
It’s widely known that acquiring new customers is far more expensive than retaining existing ones. According to Annex Cloud1, 69% of U.S. customers believe that customer service influences loyalty. Putting the time into building customer relationships gives your customers another reason to stay with your company: they feel valued and appreciated.
Annex Cloud also reported that 91% of customers are more likely to purchase from brands that provide them with meaningful and relevant offers. By getting to know your customers and building long-lasting relationships with them, you’ll gain a better understanding of the problems they’re looking to solve and the things they want.
Furthermore, Forbes2 reported that customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that don’t focus on their customers. That profitability comes from happy customers purchasing more and more, and referring the business to other customers. Customer experience and customer relationships directly correlate with customer lifetime value. In other words, by building customer relationships and delivering a great experience, your customers will stay with you longer.
5 tips for building customer relationships that last
#1 Truly connect with your customers
Connecting with your customers isn’t achieved by simply sending them a canned welcome email when they purchase your product. That might be a start, but it takes a lot more effort to truly connect with your customers.
High-quality customer service plays a big role in building lasting customer relationships, and opportunities to connect with your customers and build relationships are present throughout the entire customer lifecycle.
Go out of your way during crucial moments such as onboarding, go-live dates, and contract renewals to engage with customers and be a valuable resource for their team. Partner with customers on their path to success.
Zappos is famously known for truly connecting with customers by delivering delight at every customer interaction.
Tips for connecting with your customers:
- Balance product expertise with empathy so that your customers trust you and know you care.
- Understand your customers’ needs so that you can engage them with relevant offers they actually value.
- Match your customer’s language and tone so that they feel like they’re talking to someone they’re familiar with.
#2 Establish trust with quality and timely support
Excellent customer support is a must when it comes to building and managing relationships with your customers. A Microsoft study3 reports that 59% of consumers had higher expectations for customer service than they did the year prior.
Quality and timely support should start early in the process of building your company. Create standard operating procedures and guidelines for how your support team should respond to certain issues. As your company grows, these procedures will evolve, but it’s important to lay an early foundation of excellent service that you can build off of.
Leverage automation to work more efficiently and adapt an omnichannel customer service model to ensure no context is lost no matter which channel your customers use to contact you. Understand how your customers are using your product and why they’re using your product so that you can consistently provide contextual support.
One of the most important things you can do in building any relationship is to be transparent. Transparency builds trust, and trust builds loyalty.
Tips for establishing trust through support:
- Embrace transparency during outages and performance issues with your product.
- Establish SLAs for every channel and issue type, and iterate on these often.
- Bring in non-support teams to collaborate with agents for faster resolutions and a personalized touch.
#3 Personalize your customer interactions with data
We have a wealth of data at our fingertips at any given time, but having a lot of data isn’t as important as having the right data and knowing how to use it.
Customer data such as location, usage activity, purchase history, prior conversations enrich the customer experience and help us build strong customer relationships when used the right way. With information like this, we can personalize the customer experience through more contextual interactions.
Tips for personalizing your customer interactions with data:
- Define customer personas from the data you have, so that you can understand trends and adapt your business offers to accommodate them.
- Recommend products based on your customers’ purchase history and how they interact with your website.
- Leverage context from previous conversations each time you engage with a customer.
- Integrate your tools (ticketing, CRM, order management, etc) so that you have the right information, in the right place, at the right time.
#4 Continue adding value even after a sale
Good customer relationships are fueled by continuously adding value. Don’t sell them and then forget them. Nurture them, keep them engaged by delivering value. Understand your customers’ objectives and desired outcomes, and help them achieve those outcomes along the way. This is what customer success is all about.
Every time you engage with a customer, you should be thinking about how you can add value to the customer at that moment. Maybe it’s additional training, or demoing a new feature they expressed interest in, or sharing a new piece of best practice content your team just launched. How you deliver value depends on your product and what the customer needs, but there are some general approaches to this.
Tips for continuously delivering value:
- Encourage customers to take part in community discussions, or ask them to speak at an event.
- Ask customers for feedback about their experience, analyze those insights, and then put a plan in place to address those opportunities.
- Host knowledge sharing sessions and connect your customers with other customers so that they can utilize your products better.
#5 Make your loyal customers feel extra special
Reward your most loyal customers so that they know you really care about their success and happiness. Building relationships with these customers is low-hanging fruit; they’re already engaged and getting value out of your product — now prioritize them and make them champions of your product.
Word of mouth marketing is incredibly powerful. According to Referral Rock4, 74% of consumers identify word of mouth as a key influencer in making purchasing decisions. Getting your customers to spread the word about your business not only shows you value them, it impacts your bottom line.
Tips for making loyal customers feel extra special
- Acknowledge their value to your company by giving them early access to features, access to insider events, and other ways to make them feel like they belong.
- Reward them for referring your company to others, and make sure your customer-success team prioritizes these references.
- Leave thank you notes on their onboarding anniversary and offer special deals and discounts.
The importance of building customer relationships isn’t just about the bottom line. At the end of the day, great relationships impact your business in positive ways, but it also feels good to build customer relationships. As humans, we love to engage, help, feel valued, and show others our appreciation. Treat each customer as a human, and not a business transaction, and your business will become a more rewarding place to work that continues to thrive.
A customer service software like Freshdesk can go a long way in helping you build strong customer relationships by enabling you to engage in context-rich, seamless conversations. If you’re looking for a tool to help you build long-term customer relationships, then give Freshdesk a try.