Today’s post about building customer relationships that last is courtesy of Lucy Reed, creator of GigMine.
Building customer relationships that last, and retaining customers are building blocks of any successful small business. That means, among other things, connecting with them as directly as possible, including actively seeking their feedback on your products or services, and making thoughtful and purposeful gestures that indicate your sincerity. This is especially important for building your reputation online and winning over prospective customers, because it shows how confident you are in the excellence of what you’re offering.
Exceptional Customer Service Can Help You Build Customer Relationships
One of the best things you can do to connect with and retain customers is make it easy for them to do business with you. Use your online processes to send payment reminders, fraud alerts, and make personalized customer loyalty offers. Such interactions should always be positive, brief and informative, thereby encouraging loyal customers to remain loyal.
Google Alerts is a free service that allows you to monitor what’s being said about your business or about topics of interest to your customers. Setting up notifications through Google Alerts is a great way to inform your customers about things that interest them and respond to comments in a timely manner. You can use Google Alerts to build customer relationships by responding to online comments, whether it’s to refute an erroneous criticism, take advantage of positive feedback, or respond to complaints immediately. Providing timely responses is a key element in providing winning customer service that helps you retain customers for the long-term.
Be more responsive
If there’s one thing customers hate, it’s being put off, mislead or put on hold. Responsive customer service should be about eliminating bureaucratic interference. Always let customers know that if they don’t want to wait on the phone, they can always pay, get answers and leave comments via your website. Always make a point of responding to customer complaints promptly.
Giving out free samples has a number of very positive effects on existing and potential customers. It lets everyone know you’re there and gives substance to your profile if yours is a new business. It illustrates the value of your product/service, and it builds trust by letting them try out your product without having to spend their own money.
Once you announce online you’re offering something for free, you send a powerful message that people will be getting something for nothing and that you’re intent on establishing a relationship with them, one built on trust and integrity. If, for example, you want to launch a shop that makes upscale desserts, offering free samples will impress people because they don’t have to risk sampling a high-priced dessert item they may not care for. That’s a gesture that people tend to remember and is great for building customer relationships that last.
Americans absolutely love believing they’re getting a good deal, whether it’s a deep discount, a two-for-one offer, or a rebate. “Discount” is one of those words, like “free,” that naturally attracts the attention of consumers. It gives them the impression they have a measure of control in such a transaction, which appeals to shoppers who pride themselves on finding the very best offers. Offer discounts via your website and via social media venues.
Discounts are especially tempting because consumers are left with the impression that the same item may not be on sale tomorrow. It’s also an excellent way to draw attention to your brand. That’s what makes social media such a potent marketing venue – the word spreads very quickly when a new business demonstrates it’s serious about attracting customers.
Americans also love to win, or to feel as though they’ve won. There’s nothing quite like the feeling that you’ve won something; it’s akin to winning big on a long-odds bet. If you’re in the wedding cake business and you launch a contest in which someone wins a free wedding cake or a free night at a bed and breakfast, you create tremendous buzz among the winner’s acquaintances and other customers online. Those who don’t win the contest will still be intrigued about your service and the generosity that led to such a giveaway.
Show that customer input translates into action
Making customers feel their opinions and feelings don’t matter, that surveys and channels for feedback are meaningless, may very quickly work against you. If you’ve solicited customer input online, be prepared to act on it right away and let your customers know online that it’s an example of the sense of responsibility you feel toward them.
Showing existing and potential customers that you want more than to just sell them something is an excellent approach towards building customer relationships that last. You want to establish a lasting, ongoing relationship with them, one rooted in trust and appreciation. You can streamline your company’s operations, enhance its reputation online, and build customer loyalty all at the same time with a well-conceived customer loyalty program that makes shoppers happy and strengthens your brand.
Interested in learning more about building customer relationships that last? Contact me today and let’s talk! And if you’re interested in learning ways to differentiate yourself from your competition, check out this article about business model differentiation.
Ms. Reed created GigMine because she was inspired by the growth of the sharing economy and wanted to make it easier for entrepreneurial individuals like herself to find the gig opportunities in their areas.