Cultivating strong relationships is a surefire way to create loyal customers. If you don’t focus on building relationships with your customers, they’re more likely to go elsewhere.
People want to feel valued! In order to keep your customers coming back, they need to know they matter to you. And to ensure that they do, you have to develop an authentic connection with them and invest in your relationships.
A recent report by HubSpot states that “customers who have an emotional relationship with a brand have a 306% higher customer lifetime value” than those who don’t. So, what does this mean for you?
It means that the relationship you develop with someone will keep them loyal to your business long after they buy your product or use your service for the first time. It also signifies that building relationships with customers and creating brand loyalty are key to business success.
So how do you establish a strong customer relationship? More importantly, how do you continue to foster an exceptional customer relationship over time that creates a strong sense of loyalty?
Below we’ve outlined seven ways to establish, grow, and nurture strong customer relationships through organic human connection — take a look!
1. Get to Know Your Customers
It might seem simple, but when you begin doing business with someone, it’s crucial to relationship longevity that you get to know them on a personal level. People are more than just a sale, and they want to feel that way.
According to Forbes, the core of the customer experience is that people want to “feel seen, known, and valued” by the businesses they’re buying from.
During those initial conversations, take some time to focus on this piece of the customer experience and really listen to what your customers have to say. Maybe they mention how long they’ve been with their company, a problem they’re having with your product, or what’s coming up on their calendar. Keep track of this information.
When it’s time to follow up, reiterate some of the details from those initial conversations. This shows your customers that they’ve been heard and that they’re valued as unique individuals.
2. Exceed Expectations
One of the ways you can begin building relationships with customers is by creating a positive customer experience upfront. How do you do this? Be above average and go beyond what your customers are expecting.
On an episode of “The Customer Experience Podcast,” Shep Hyken, author of “Be Amazing or Go Home: Seven Customer Service Habits That Create Confidence With Everyone,” states that being “just average” is no longer an option when dealing with customers. More specifically, he points out that the number one thing companies should do is slightly exceed expectations rather than just meet them. Doing so will garner an amazing rating because you’re always doing something positive consistently.
So, what are some ways you can exceed expectations to provide an above-average customer experience?
• Include a personal touch with your product once someone signs up, such as a thank you video. (Click here for a few examples of thank you video messages to help get you started!)
• Don’t just meet immediate needs — always go one step further.
• Personally follow up after larger onboarding or training sessions with additional resources and exercises.
• Reach out regularly to ensure your customers are getting the most out of your product or service. Follow up on their responses.
• Provide an exceptional customer experience that exceeds expectations throughout the customer journey.
From the beginning of the onboarding process through product training and customer support — doing more than expected will keep your customers loyal to you. This is because they trust you’ll always do your best for them.
3. Show Gratitude
Showing your customers that you’re genuinely thankful for them will go a long way to create genuine connection, especially at the beginning of a relationship.
According to Harvard Business Review, when someone feels genuinely appreciated, they’re more likely to stay in a relationship over a longer period of time. If your customers know you’re grateful, it will help them feel like your business is really worth their time and effort.
Continuing the practice of saying, “Thank you,” over the course of building relationships with customers is also important to longevity and loyalty. So don’t forget this step as you continue to cultivate longer-lasting relationships as well.
4. Communicate Often and Honestly
In order to build customer relationships, open and honest communication is crucial.
In any customer success role, you’re bound to encounter a variety of questions and genuine problems with your product every day. It’s important to communicate well by listening with empathy, being straightforward and sympathetic when delivering bad news, apologizing genuinely, clearly identifying solutions or answers, and following up after you’ve solved a problem or answered a question.
And, while we know it’s important to communicate with your customers when they need you, it’s just as important to reach out when they don’t have a problem or a question. This will help to remind them that you’re still there to provide support.
So, what are some ways to remind your customers that you’re still around?
• Check in via phone, email, social media, text, and video. Not everyone communicates the same way so try to use multiple channels of communication to meet people where they’re comfortable.
• Provide value by holding educational webinars that help customers use your product or service.
• Send relevant content to train and educate your customers on product updates and new feature launches.
• Reach out and remind customers that you’re available for product help and additional training.
• Send updates on customer progress and congratulate them on hitting certain milestones.
Above anything else, clear and consistent communication is the core of great customer service and lasting customer relationships.
5. Showcase Your Human Side
Continuing to develop a strong customer relationship requires real connection. And you can create a deeper level of connection with people by showing your human side. People aren’t perfect and real relationships aren’t perfect, either.
Humanize yourself by sending personalized videos to your customers on a regular basis. Video will help them become familiar with you. The real you. Video helps to convey your intent, empathy, and tone of voice. (This is especially important when problems arise, which they inevitably will.)
The more your customers see your face, hear your voice, and get to know your human side — the more likely they are to feel like they know you personally. This feeling of familiarity helps to create trust and customer relationship longevity.
If you’re not sure how to create videos showing your authentic human side — check out this post for some guidance.
6. Focus on Customer Retention
When you think about customer lifetime value, you have to consider the cost of retaining customers versus the cost of drumming up new business. And acquiring new customers isn’t cheap. In fact, it costs five times more than keeping your existing customers. You need to keep your current customers coming back.
What are some proven ways to avoid churn and keep your current customers coming back?
• Encourage product usage through training and education.
• Track and share customer feedback from both current customers and canceled accounts.
• Surprise and delight your customers throughout their experience with your product.
• Create a good referral strategy. (Here are some tips to help!) The more a customer refers you to others, the more often they remember why they like doing business with you.
• Deliver an above-average customer experience.
By building relationships with customers and continuing to nurture those relationships, you’re focusing on customer retention rather than customer acquisition. Making this a key part of your business model will save you both time and money in the long run.
Take a look at these eight notable customer retention strategies to combat churn to help!
7. Provide Value Over Time
Building relationships with customers should happen over time. You shouldn’t wait until their contract is up or it’s renewal time to connect with them. It’s important to create connection by doing more for your customers than just selling them your product or meeting their immediate needs.
Creating and sending video email campaigns provides your customers with something of value.
Rather than focusing on your business, focus on what your customers may need during a specific time in their lives. Providing them with useful information such as updates or news specific to their industry, details about local holiday events, or helpful seasonal tips will keep you top-of-mind when this knowledge comes in handy.
When you send video email campaigns, including a call to action will also leave the door open for ongoing communication. This ongoing communication is how you’ll be able to maintain a relationship over time.
Want to Learn More About Building Customer Relationships?
Building customer relationships doesn’t end with this list! Below are some episodes of “The Customer Experience Podcast” to help you dig even deeper into the best ways to create and deliver a better customer experience. Learning how to provide a better customer experience will go a long way to strengthen your relationships with customers and keep them coming back.
Check out these episodes for further guidance…