Amazon founder Jeff Bezos famously said, “The most important single thing is to focus obsessively on the customer. Our goal is to be earth’s most customer-centric company.“ Considering Amazon is valued at a staggering $438 billion, Bezos’s obsession with ensuring customer satisfaction truly paid off.
Nearly 90 percent of consumers are likely to spend more money with businesses that offer streamlined experiences. Another 79 percent of customers say they want brands to show they understand and care about them before buying anything.
It’s clear building trustworthy customer relations is a fundamental factor contributing to a business’s success today.
When you connect with your target audience on a deeper level, you understand their requirements better and create solutions that effectively resolve their pain points. A good customer relations strategy can help establish customer loyalty and retain valuable, long-term clients to deliver tremendous ROI.
Today, we’ll explore the importance of effective customer relations and list a few key strategies to help you build positive, long-term customer relationships.
What is customer relations?
Customer relations are the efforts a company takes to engage with its customers for creating and fostering positive relationships with them.
It focuses on past, current, and potential customers to promote customer acquisition and strengthen customer retention. It's the continuous improvisation in your services towards your customers and encompasses all kinds of activities, such as assisting customers with their daily queries and creating long-term policies that lead to customer success.
Implementing a sound customer relations strategy will help you understand:
- How your customers feel towards your business
- What steps you can take to address customer issues
- How should you approach customer interactions
Although customer relations affect all parts of the business, it’s closely associated with your customer service department (customer service, customer success, customer support, and product development teams) to build and maintain healthy and long-term customer relationships. It also includes your sales and marketing department as they interact with customers in different ways.
Customer relations vs. customer service
Customer relations and customer are two terms that appear to be similar but are very different.
Customer service is your company’s initiative to ensure customer success. It’s an inbound function that a customer expects from the very first point of interaction. While your agents can provide proactive customer service features, most of these functions are delivered in response to customer action or when things go wrong.
Customer relations is a combination of both inbound and outbound measures your company takes for the long term. It considers your ability to react to present issues, as well as your approach to improving future customer experiences. It also focuses on the proactive steps your agents take to better engage with customers to enhance their overall journey with your brand.
Why customer relations are important for your business’ success?
The formula is simple: Happy customers = Repeat customers = More money
Customers can buy from wherever they choose, but once they find a solution they like, they tend to stick to it. Have you ever thought about why?
Sure, staying with the current seller is more convenient. We don’t have to spend time looking for another company, learning the features and functionalities of a new product or service, and saving time.
But this isn’t always the case.
Reportedly, 56 percent of American customers are ready to ditch a company after several bad experiences. In fact, 70 percent of them leave after a single bad experience even if they love the brand or product.
This bad experience is often credited to bad customer relations. Research suggests that 68 percent of people leave a customer company because they felt it didn’t care about them.
Delivering positive customer relationships changes that.
Positive customer relations refer to long-term relationships that are mutually beneficial to the involved parties: the customer and the company. It creates a stable environment of trust that facilitates the continued growth of the customer and the company.
Here are the most important benefits of maintaining positive customer relations:
Better business reputation & credibility
Customers desire great experiences and reward businesses that provide them.
Studies suggest American customers are ready to pay 17 percent more to buy from a company that offers excellent customer service. This also means a good customer experience can help increase your revenue by enticing customers to spend more on your products and services.
More repeat business
According to Forbes, loyal customers are five times more likely to buy again and four times more likely to spread the word about your company.
When you have satisfied customers, you’ll naturally see more repeat purchases, along with new business from their friends and family. Creating a positive customer experience results in free word-of-mouth publicity that significantly improves your passive income.
Reduced price fluctuations
Solely relying on your products and not leveraging the power of positive customer experience means your prices are facing more fluctuation.
When unsatisfied people don’t buy your products, you’ll have to think of other ways to reel them in. Usually, discounts or price cuts are the alternatives to a wonderful customer experience. But if you want to earn more loyalty and maintain your current prices, be sure to establish a superior customer service experience.
Increased competitive advantage
Brands with a superior customer experience will always be ahead of their competition, bringing in around 5.7 times more revenue and enjoying a steady base of loyal customers. If you want to set your brand apart from its rival, start focusing on providing a memorable customer experience that gets your current customers talking.
Boosted employee morale
The quality of your customer service and care directly impacts the kind of work environment you create for your company. When employees see how you respect your customers, they also adopt the same approach and behave kindly. They are also more willing to go the extra mile to connect with them.
Forcing agents to get excited when they constantly have callers complaining about a bad product interaction can be tricky, so be sure to always motivate them and show appreciation.
Increased customer feedback
Positive customer relations create an open channel of communication for customer feedback, allowing you to enjoy better individual interactions with customers. This builds trust over time and influences their buying decisions, which correspondingly boosts customer retention and loyalty.
Studies have also found that consumers believe a good experience with a company has more influence over their purchase decisions than eye-catching advertising.
7 Tips to build great customer relations
Building trustworthy customer relations factors in all interactions across the customer journey, among other factors, that influence customer relationships.
Clarence Francis said, “You cannot buy enthusiasm; you cannot buy loyalty; you cannot buy the devotion of hearts, minds, or souls. You must earn these.” To earn your customer’s loyalty, you need to ensure you’re applying the best strategies to improve the quality of customer relationships.
Here are a few to get you started:
#1 Focus on your employees
This may sound confusing considering we’ve only emphasized customers till now, but hear us out.
Your employees control all communications with your customers. They maintain your business as values, make good on the promises you made to customers, and provide great customer service.
How do you think they’ll perform at work if they don’t like their jobs or the work environment?
Demotivated and resentful employees are unlikely to spread positivity and go the extra mile for customers. If they are unhappy with you, they’ll never give their best to ensure your customers are happy and satisfied.
Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, always puts his employees first. In his words, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.“
We couldn’t agree more.
If you're wondering where to get started, consider trying Scribe for free to create visual step-by-step how-to guides to give employees personalized instructions that will help them better manage and service customers.
You can also make your top-performing support agents share their knowledge with the rest of the team at the click of a button.
Scribe is a process documentation tool that writes your SOPs for you — that means you'll never have to manually draft another step-by-step guide again.
All you have to do is:
- Turn on the extension.
- Run through your process.
- Watch Scribe create your visual guide — complete with text and screenshots.
Here's a Scribe in action — that only took 15 seconds to create.
And with Scribe Pages, you can combine Scribes with video, images and more to create brandable client-facing documentation. Like this one!
Take advantage of tools that make it easy to create dynamic content that will impress and support your clients.
#2 Obsess over exceeding customer service expectations
Building long-lasting customer relations is undoubtedly a smart business move. It helps you anticipate customer requirements and improve and enhance business strategies, but most importantly, it equips you to exceed customer expectations.
But what if you want to go further? Here are a few tips to exceed your customers' expectations:
- Connect with customers: Have your customer support team connect with customers to better understand their feedback and requirements. Make sure they have the right resources and tools to fulfill their needs and deliver a great experience.
- Deliver real-time support: Delivering real-time sales and support assistance to customers will get you those extra brownie points. Consider adding a live chat service to your website to offer proactive support and understand your customer journey.
- Go the extra mile: Make your customers feel special by meeting and exceeding your customer expectations. This will have a positive impact on your business reputation and increase customer loyalty. For example, when a little boy left a toy giraffe at the hotel during vacation, Ritz-Carlton Florida not only returned the toy to the boy but also created a photo booklet showing everything Joshie (the toy giraffe) did during the extra day.
#3 Offer excellent customer service
In this age of social media, customers are only too happy to lash out at companies that disappoint them on their respective social media channels. Fortunately, avoiding their wrath isn’t that difficult — all you need is to offer the best possible customer service always.
Ensure your customer support agents have a compassionate approach and accept responsibility fast. Also, never brush customers off and downplay their concerns — or worse, ignore them.
Take inspiration from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, which offers customers 24/7 service and uses social media as an end-to-end source for solving any queries.
Another good tip is to consistently implement useful customer feedback — more so, negative feedback. The more you understand your customers' desires and requirements, the more you can tell your business to satisfy them. As Bill Gates said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.“
Being swift when addressing customer concerns is critical too. This shows customers you’re listening without judgment and genuinely want to work with them to figure out a proactive solution to their problems.
#4 Embrace customer service etiquette
Sixty-two percent of consumers have abandoned brands after a poor customer service experience. Keeping this in mind, integrating customer service etiquette into every facet of your business can help you deliver superior service and strengthen customer relations.
Some key etiquette your help desk technicians can follow are:
- Using positive words and phrases. Customers have zero tolerance for rude staff. Encourage agents to use positive phrases like “We apologize for any convenience caused.” Negative phrases like “I don’t know how this happened should be avoided at all costs.” Using the right phrases and words when interacting with customers creates a good first impression that will go a long way.
- Having an empathetic approach. Using empathetic statements and being patient will allow you to easily deal with customers, especially when they have a complaint or are facing any issue. Use statements like “I’m sorry to hear that…“ or “We understand how complicated it might have been to...“ to build a rapport by expressing genuine empathy.
- Listening actively. Your customers have a lot to say, both good and bad. Listening to them will enable you to make the best use of every opportunity to make them feel valued and appreciated. Allow them to speak freely without interruption, and then work with them to resolve problems. This will also help you determine what your customers want and understand their feedback and opinions to meet and exceed their expectations.
- Offering gratitude. ‘Thank you’ and ‘Please’ are perhaps the most important phrases when it comes to customer service. Use them graciously to develop a bond between the business and customers.
#5 Create value for customers
An important aspect of customer relations is to hook the customer for life. The best way to do this is by creating adequate value for customers, which can be achieved by the following measures:
- Building communities. Communities have a significant impact on key business performance indicators and are extremely beneficial to building customer relationships. It gives businesses insights to improve operational efficiency, generate more revenue, and boost customer satisfaction.
- Investing in your customers. Your customers are the source of current profits and the foundation of future growth. Allocate your business growth towards new products and solutions to serve your customers.
- Understand your value proposition. Know what value your product or service creates for your customers. This will help you understand your company’s value proposition, which you can then use to acquire more customers.
- Educate customers. Businesses often use different marketing ploys to attract prospects. While that’s great, customers are more likely to trust brands that take the initiative to enhance their knowledge about products or services. Even research agrees educating customers strengthens the trust in an organization, helping it stand over its competitors.
#6 Personalize your communication
Personalized communication is key to building healthy relationships.
Eighty percent of customers are more likely to buy for my brand that offers personalized experiences. Moreover, 71 percent of customers feel frustrated with bad treatment, causing them to desert the company for its competition.
Try to communicate with customers in a way that makes them feel like humans and not walking ATM machines. Don’t reach out to them only when you want to sell something. Instead, focus on engaging with them and building long-term relations.
Here are a few tips to regularly engage with your audience to make them feel special:
- Use their names. Get on first-name terms with customers to make visitors feel valued. This will also eliminate any sense of formality, bringing you both closer.
- Retain their order history. Keeping and tracking your customers' order history will help you offer personalized services and offers. Do this for both first-time visitors and regular clients.
- Send them exclusive offers. Choose and send resources that can be valuable to your customers. This can either be materials educating them more about your products or services or something else you feel will make their life easier.
#7 Leverage suitable software & technology
Improve customer relations by employing software tools and technology to help your customer support team better manage high volumes of customer queries and feedback.
For example, you can deploy a CRM (customer relationship management software) to track custom activities, analyze that behavior, and deliver solutions. Besides a CRM, you can use helpdesk software to manage and improve customer interactions and create positive customer experiences.
Taking care of clients is an important aspect of customer relationships, and using the right software and technology makes it more convenient and effective.
Concluding thoughts: your customer relations guide
Simply having an amazing product that addresses a specific market need isn’t enough anymore. You also have to win over your customers who influence how well your product sells.
If you want to stay ahead in the long game, building relationships with customers is a crucial part of the process. If you’ve been neglecting your customers, don’t lose hope. Take your first step today and follow our above strategies to build and maintain great customer relations.