The current tech age has been great for business, but it has come with unintended consequences. Namely, customers are less loyal to brands today than ever before. Instead of staying with a brand for 20 years, customers regularly switch between providers. From makeup to cat food, customers are more willing than ever before to switch brands.
Why is it harder than ever for businesses to develop long-lasting customer relationships? The answer is that customers don't just want a quality product. Now that customers can find dozens of your competitors with a quick Google search, it's all about finding a customer connection.
We live in a world where customers ask, "What have you done for me lately?" Customer connections override customer skepticism and encourage them to stay with you for the long haul. Personalization and engagement are key to turning potential customers into buying customers. In fact, research shows that 1 in 4 customers will pay more for personalized products. It's clear that customers want personalization. That's why businesses that want to create lasting bonds need to give it to them.
Customer relationships are essential to building brand loyalty. When you invest in these relationships, you'll see not only a happier customer base but a boost to your bottom line. Here are five strategies to build long-lasting customer relationships.
1. Create a retention-focused customer relationship strategy.
Brands often make the mistake of focusing on retention too soon in the buying cycle. You can't expect a new customer to retain you if they just started using your brand.
You aren't going to create deep relationships with new customers. It doesn't make sense to pursue new customers right now if a lifelong relationship is your goal. That's why retaining existing customers should be your focus.
It's cheaper and easier to retain repeat customers. Those repeat customers spend three times as much as new customers and cost five times less to acquire.
Prioritize repeat customers with your marketing efforts. With this strategy, you’ll see a better return on your marketing investment. This means enabling remarketing campaigns, customer loyalty apps and exclusive discounts for repeat customers.
2. Track all customer data.
If you aren't tracking your customer data, now's the time to start. Where are you keeping your customers' contact information? What about their purchase information? If you store customer data in places like social media IMs, you're at the mercy of another platform. You don't want a glitch to erase all of your hard-earned data. That's why you need to invest in a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. Get a CRM to manage customer relationships like the professional you are.
A CRM will do more than store customer information. It will also help you visualize what customers buy, when they buy and how often. This will help you see how many customers come through your pipeline, including which ones drop off and which ones convert. The system also allows you to track who becomes a repeat customer, what they bought and the average value of their purchases. Predict revenue and see how effective your efforts are by setting up the right data platform.
No matter your company size, you need to track customer data. This empowers you to analyze trends and deliver what your customers need.
But don't start with the software. Create a process for your sales and marketing team to use inside the CRM first. Solidify your funnels, write a marketing plan, and map the customer journey. Plug these processes into your CRM for a streamlined customer-tracking process.
3. Improve your communication skills.
Communication is the bedrock of a good relationship, both in our personal lives and in business. Change how you communicate with customers, treating them as the humans they are instead of dollar signs. If you wouldn't speak that way to your best friend, don't use that language with your customers.
While language choice is important, the communication method and message content matter a lot too. Don't send email blasts and expect them to suffice for customer communication. Use smart communication strategies to personalize the customer experience.
Let's say you sell household electronics. Consider setting up time-based triggers that send a how-to guide for your product one week after purchase. Shopping history helps you send customers complimentary offers or a coupon for future purchases. These personalized experiences show customers that you're thinking of their journey and needs, persuading them to stay with your brand.
Your communication should also provide value. Don't talk about your products or your company the entire time. Send newsworthy articles and helpful blogs, and encourage a two-way dialogue with your customers. Give them something amazing without asking for anything in return. You need to give first to get something back, after all.
Customer communication is also about being present. Have enough staff on hand at all times to answer customer questions. Create a profile on the social media channels where your customers are most active and engage with them.
Brands act like relationship-building is hard, but it's no different from creating relationships in real life. Be real, authentic, helpful and present. That alone will boost retention for lasting customer relationships. Customer service with excellent communication is key. Customers are like gold and need to be treated that way.
4. Go above and beyond.
Consumers expect more than just a product from you. They expect a five-star experience. Remember, quality and experience trump everything. You can personalize your marketing all you want, but if you don't have the quality to back up your claims, you won't build good relationships.
Delight your customers by going above and beyond. The key is to impress customers so much that they wouldn't dream of taking their business elsewhere. For example, women's health company Hers sends postcards and hair ties to subscribers. This isn't included in the company's offering; it's something the brand does to surprise its customers. For little added cost, the brand encourages customers to continue the relationship through unexpected delights.
Do something nice and unexpected for your customers. Send complimentary treats, bonus items, discounts and more to feed their appetite for excitement.
5. Collect and use feedback.
Feedback makes customers feel heard and valued. It's also beneficial to you as a brand by helping you improve your processes and products. Don't neglect customer feedback. It's a critical part of relationship-building that is also free advice on how to improve your company.
Ask for feedback from your customers. This could be as simple as automatically sending an email survey after they receive their order. Keep the survey short and sweet so customers can fill it out quickly on their mobile phones. You can always reach out to them if you want clarification on their answers.
Internal feedback is great, but you need external feedback too. Encourage customers to review you on Google and Yelp. Make sure you check your reviews at least once a week. Timely replies show you are attentive to customer reviews.
However, feedback is only valuable if you act on it. Take customer feedback and use it to improve your business. Have your COO review the comments once a month to make improvements across the organization.
It is important to remember that the relationship doesn't end when a customer buys something from you. Treat this as the starting point instead of the finish line. Use your customer data and adjust your practices to forge lasting customer relationships that result in predictable revenue. It's time to focus more on the customer and grow your business the old-fashioned way: authentic relationships.