Regardless of the type of business, developing a bond between customer and brand has many benefits. For one thing, customers who feel a connection to a brand stay loyal, and that means more repeat business and less reliance on new customers who cost more money to acquire.
Customers who feel they have a relationship with a company are also more likely to act as unofficial brand ambassadors. So, the company benefits from some free marketing. Connected customers are more forgiving too, so the occasional mistake won’t result in a barrage of damaging negative reviews and social media comments.
But how does a brand develop a deep and meaningful relationship with people they may have never met? Here are ten tips to help you cultivate customer relationships that will benefit your business for many years to come.
1. Personalize the Customer Experience
The first thing you need to do to build any relationship is to appeal to the individual on a personal level, and that begins by addressing the person by name and understanding their preferences. You must use the right tone in correspondence, social media, and on your website. So, identify your target market and build up a picture of your typical customer. Then, discover more about your customers by conducting surveys and capturing personal data when people create accounts or subscribe to mailing lists. You can then use that data to personalize the customer experience at every touchpoint a customer has with your organization.
2. Create an Emotional Connection
As mentioned in the introduction, you don’t know your customers well, and they are unlikely to become your best friends. So, creating an emotional bond with customers might seem like a tall order. However, people do feel a connection with other people who share their values. So, you can get closer to your customers by supporting the causes that they support and standing up for things that matter to them. For example, local businesses might support local community projects, or a clothing or food distributor might only sell Fair Trade certified products. Taking steps like these can help customers relate to a brand and feel that a common cause bonds them with the company.
3. Provide Value for Customers
Unconditional love might exist for some lucky people. However, people will want to know what they will get out of the relationship when it comes to a brand, so it is crucial that a brand solves problems for its customers and provides value. The value provided might be low prices, high quality, or a combination of both. There is also value in information, like how-to guides and educational content and videos. When cultivating customer relationships, the crucial thing to remember is that customers want value in return for their loyalty.
4. Exceed Expectations
Everyone loves nice surprises. So, surprise your customers with better products and customer service than expected, and then your customers will become your friends. But, of course, the easiest way to ensure that you exceed expectations is to set expectations at the right level in the first place. So, be honest with product descriptions and avoid overselling. If you do make mistakes, admit to them and then do whatever it takes to rectify the problem.
5. Embrace Customer Feedback
Customer feedback can help a business improve its products and services. So, listening to what customers have to say should be standard practice if you want to enhance customer relationships. It is also vital that you make it easy for customers to voice their opinions. For example, ask for feedback from customers following their interactions with your company. Remember, though, listening to customers will only improve relationships if you act upon the feedback, and it is essential to keep customers in the loop when you do make changes as a result of customer feedback.
6. Share Company News
Of course, communication between friends must be two-way. So, keeping your customers up to date with company news will help to create a deeper bond. For example, sharing information about new products in development or new facilities being opened helps keep customers in touch with the company, and sharing news about employees shows the human side of a brand and helps create a personal connection. So, don’t restrict your blogging and social media posts to sales-related topics. Instead, let your customers know what is happening with your business and with the people behind the brand.
7. Remember the Important Details
An effortless way to build a bond with customers is to remember important details about them. For example, sending a birthday card would be a great way to reach out to customers, or perhaps you could offer customers a special discount on the anniversary of placing their first order. After all, you no doubt remember to send your customer account statements and contract renewals fast enough when they are due. So, why not send your customers some good news in the post, too? Little gestures like these can go a long way towards building a lasting relationship with customers. Managing milestone dates and anniversaries is relatively straightforward if you use customer relationship management software (CRM).
8. Put Customer Relationships at the Heart of the Business
It only takes one bad experience to ruin a relationship. So, it is crucial to recognize that every employee in the business has a part to play in building customer relationships. Every team member who may come into contact with customers must be well-versed in customer interactions. Quite simply, the ‘customer comes first’ ethos must be a core value of the business, and every employee must be equipped to deal with customers in the right way.
9. Make Communication Efficient and Personalized
Communication is key to building good customer relationships. So, make it easy for customers to communicate with the business by offering multiple communication channels. And respond to all customer communications promptly and in a friendly, personalized manner, whether via social media, telephone, post, or email. Of course, if you have a large customer base, you might streamline the communication with automation. But it would still be best to maintain personal contact where possible and provide alternative means of communication for those who do not like using things like chatbots and automated telephone call routing systems.
10. Reward Customer Loyalty
If you want to enjoy the continued support of your loyal customers, it is best to let them know you appreciate them. So, reward loyal customers with discounted products, premium services, and early access to new products or exclusive deals. As with any relationship, a little thank you goes a long way.
To develop deeper customer relationships, a company must connect with individuals on a personal level. That means treating customers like the individuals they are, providing them with value, and being honest with them. But, of course, a company with a large customer base cannot become close personal friends with all their customers. Even so, adopting a customer-first approach, adopting shared values, and rewarding loyal customers can create long-lasting connections between a brand and its customers.