Good customer relationships are important, but how do we achieve them?
Most companies understand the importance of good customer relationships; not all of them manage to have them. There are three strategies to help here; loyalty first, authenticity and overlapping.
1. Loyalty First
Don’t get confused between retention and loyalty. Both are positive, but loyalty is a better safeguard. Loyal customers see you as the preferred option, so there is resilience to competitors. Retention merely means that customers are willing to continue to do business with you, but they can easily be affected by more appealing offers elsewhere. So, aiming for loyalty is paramount and achieving it requires a culture of relationship building in your business. One way to do this is to ensure your business has a clear value proposition. A customer needs to know exactly what to expect from you in order to choose you over competitors. Another strategy is to listen. It might sound obvious, but many businesses hear what they want to hear, instead of genuinely tuning into what their customers are telling them. Finally, offer help. And the right kind of help, for free, and without it being requested.
2. Be more authentic
Find out if you’re acting like an authentic company by examining your voice, tone and context. Who is it that speaks to your customers? Authentic companies are crystal clear about this; they either speak to customers as a company or as an individual. Pick one and maintain that voice across all communication, paying special attention to social media, where many companies drop the ball. Tone, meanwhile, concerns the way in which you communicate. Are you being an expert or a guide? Either is fine, but it’s your customers who should steer the way here. Fight the urge to be the experts for the sake of being smarter, or friendly for the sake of being liked. Customers know when you aren’t being authentic. It’s a similar story when it comes to context. Do you start from a people or a product angle? Listen hard enough and your customers will guide you. This could make the difference between you showing a product on your homepage or the people behind that product.
Once you have those all-important authentic customer relationships, there’s a simple strategy to foster the connections and help them evolve. Look again at your most valued customers and think carefully about exactly who they are. Are they first-time customers? Repeat buyers? Customers who are ready to do more? Or are they the golden ticket i.e customers the people who refer others to your business frequently? The aim is to move each type of customer towards this final golden ticket category. If you know what triggers each customer type, you can move a customer closer and closer towards it. So look at what motivates that first purchase? What turns a one-off into a repeat buy? What triggers someone to recommend you? Armed with this in depth analysis of your most valued customers, you can create an action plan. The ultimate aim? Get your old friends to help you make new ones.
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