Focus on Effective Customer Relationship Management
Landing a customer is simply the beginning of the relationship. Think of it like getting that first date. You woo the person you want to date, and then you get the date. But do you stop there? Of course not. Problem is, that’s what many businesses do. Here are four ways to continue building relationships with customers so that they remain committed and loyal to you in the long term.
1. Regularly thank them for their business. When’s the last time you thanked your customers? Because you’re regularly getting new customers (we hope!), then this is a strategy that you need to do on a regular basis. Ideas for thanking customers:
- Send a handwritten thank-you note. Nothing says class like a note that’s been handwritten by the owner of the company. Of course, if you’re in a retail business or a business where you’re getting dozens of customers a day, this might not be feasible. So, instead, you can…
- Send a thank-you email. This works well if you’re in a business that’s all about volume. You can automate a thank-you email to go out every time you land a new customer. It needn’t be long or promotional—a heartfelt and genuine “We’re grateful for your business” is always appreciated (as is a special free bonus gift).
- Hold customer appreciation days—either in person or virtually. And for those in-person events, don’t forget to offer free promotional products.
- Shine the spotlight on your customers. Do you have a customer who’s done something noteworthy, such as building a home for Habitat for Humanity? Do a shout out to your customer on social media, your blog, or in company communications like newsletters and provide a special gift to the customer (or a donation to the customer’s charity of choice). This is a great way to give back to your awesome customers.
2. Make their lives easier. Have you ever done an audit of how easy (or hard) it is to do business with your company? Things to check: your phone’s voice mail system (is it easy to navigate, what is it like after hours), customer service (how helpful/friendly are your reps), FAQs (how often do you update these), contact information (do you have a phone number clearly visible on every page of your website, for example), etc. You want to make it easy for your customers to do business with you, no matter what stage the prospect or customer finds herself in. A yearly audit of these items is a task you should add to your marketing plan.
3. Ask for their feedback (and implement changes based on this feedback). Often times, happy and unhappy customers alike simply just want to have their voices heard and their experiences acknowledged. You should seek feedback from all customers and listen to the good, the bad, and the ugly. Then, you should create an action plan on how to address problems and maximize the good stuff. Once a problem/issue has been fixed, you now have a great reason to send some sort of communication to customers (like an email newsletter) alerting them that “We asked. You answered. We listened” and then outlining what’s changed. Most people, especially those who have been critical of your business, will appreciate knowing that your survey wasn’t simply for show and that you really listened to what they had to say.
4. Offer a customer loyalty program. There are two critical elements to any “rewards” program: constant promotion and ease of use. Create a program that’s easy to sign up for and follow, such as a points system. The more shopping a customer does, the more points he or she earns that can be applied to other items. You must promote this program everywhere so that your customers are aware it exists: your website’s home page should have a call-out box that leads people to a landing page that describes the program and allows people to sign up. You should talk it up on a regular basis in social media. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, make sure your cashiers are well-versed in the ins and outs of the program and that they can swiftly sign up people.
Do you use any of these strategies with your customers? What other strategies do you think are important for building strong relationships with customers? Share in the comments.