6 ways to strengthen your relationship with customers
n the business world, a company can successfully build its brand name in many ways—advertising, online marketing, social media, etc. With a little hard work, business owners can get their budding companies off to the right start. But perhaps the factor most important for the continued success of a company is its relationships with customers. Through positive word-of-mouth, those customers may be the champions needed to bring in new clients and provide an overall boon to the business.
Successful businesses don’t just communicate with prospects and customers for special sales. Today, making your company indispensable is a vital key to marketing success. It’s a terrific way to add value, enhance your brand and position against your competition. Here are six relationship-building strategies that will help you transform your company into a valuable resource:
1) Communicate frequently
How often do you reach out to customers? Do the bulk of your communications focus on product offers and sales? For best results, it’s important to communicate frequently and vary the types of messages you send. Research shows that when customers receive multiple methods of communication, they are more likely to remain loyal. And, in many instances, the most effective communications incorporate soft sells rather than hard-hitting sales language. Newsletters, emails, tweets, and Facebook status updates (social media in general) e-mail, direct mail, phone contact and face-to-face communication are easy-to-use, appropriate ways for staying connected and incorporating soft sells.
2) Offer customer rewards
Customer loyalty or reward programs work well for many types of businesses, from retail to cruise and travel. The most effective programs offer graduated rewards, so the more customers spend, the more they earn. This rewards your best, most profitable clients or customers and cuts down on low-value price switchers-customers who switch from program to program to get entry-level rewards. Whenever possible, offer in-kind rewards that remind your customers of your company and its products or services.
3) Hold special events
With the renewed interest in retaining and up-selling current customers, company-sponsored special events are returning to the forefront. Any event that allows you and your staff to interact with your best customers is a good bet, whether it’s a springtime golf outing, a summertime pool party or an early fall barbecue. Just choose the venue most appropriate for your unique customers and business
4) Ask for customers’ opinions
What better way to make someone feel valued than by asking for his or her opinion and advice? Business owners not only gain much insight from trusted clients but also establish that they respect and value those clients. Businesses can gain insight via surveys, online discussion questions, personal phone calls, and in-person meetings. By reaching out to customers, you give them a way to become involved and make their voices heard. They will feel that they are a part of the company, and you will get valuable feedback on what’s working and what needs to be changed in your company’s marketing strategies and business plan.
5) Launch multi-cultural programs
It may be time to add a multi-lingual component to your marketing program. For example, you might offer a French- language translation of your Web site or use ethnic print and broadcast media to reach niche markets. Ethnic audiences will appreciate marketing communications in their own languages. Bilingual customer service will also go a long way toward helping your company build relationships with minority groups.
6) Visit the trenches- For many entrepreneurs, particularly those selling products and services to other businesses, it’s important to go beyond standard sales calls and off-the-shelf marketing tools in order to build relationships with top customers or clients. When was the last time you spent hours, or even a full day, with a customer-not your sales staff, but you, the head of your company? There’s no better way to really understand the challenges your customers face and the ways you can help meet them than to occasionally get out in the trenches. Try it. You’ll find it can be a real eye-opener and a great way to cement lasting relationships.
This really makes it easy for your customers to be heard, enables you to identify and focus your efforts on the real customer pain points, while making them feel valued. Feeling listened to and seeing that your contributions are being acted on is a pretty sure-fire way of cementing any relationship.