Here is a small question for you- ‘What differentiates companies like Amazon, Zappos, or Disney from the rest?”
Well, it’s quite simple- the attribute of NOT settling for average experiences and building rock-solid customer relationships. Successful brands always strive to deliver more than what is expected of them and never hesitate to nurture their relationships with customers.
Now, that might have worked for some brands. They are successful today. End of story. But the real question is – why should you care?
In today’s digital world, customers are in more control of their choices than ever before. It takes just seconds for a customer to sing praises about your brand on social media or make it loud and clear to the world that they feel dejected. Exceeding customer expectations and building memorable, ever-lasting relationships can be the only way out.
In this blog, we will find out what is customer relations, discuss their importance for your business, explore 10 strategies to build positive customer relations, and understand the role of customer support software in achieving the same.
But first, let’s start with the definition of customer relations.
What Is Customer Relations?
Customer relations refers to the process used by businesses to engage with customers and foster long-term relationships with them. Right from assisting customers with their day-to-day queries to creating long-term policies that lead to customer success, customer relations encompasses a lot of activities. When done right, it can lead to positive outcomes such as higher customer retention, increased customer lifetime value (CLV), and stronger customer relationships.
What Is the Difference Between Customer Relations and Customer Service?
At some point or the other, you must have used the terms customer service and customer relations interchangeably. Although they might appear to be similar, the truth is that both these terms are quite different.
But don’t worry, you are not alone.
“The key difference between the two is that customer service is reactive while customer relations is proactive.”
Customer service usually involves assisting customers when something goes wrong. Businesses respond to customer issues or requests in-person or via communication channels such as phone, email, chat, or social media.
On the other hand, customer relations adopt a long-term approach. In addition to encompassing all of the important functions that customer service performs, customer relations also includes strategies to improve customers’ future experiences and their overall journey with your brand.
Now, that we know the difference between these two important terms, let’s understand what positive customer relations are.
What Are Positive Customer Relations?
Positive customers relations refer to long-term relationships that benefit both the customers and the business. Such relations can help your business connect with customers on a much more personal level where you no longer treat them as transactions but see them as partners in your growth.
“Positive customer relations isn’t simply about putting a smile on your customers’ faces. Building mutually beneficial relationships take time, effort, and requires you to establish trust with your customers.”
When you are able to connect with your target audience, you put yourself in a better position to understand their needs, resolve their concerns, and create a sense of mutual understanding with them.
Fostering positive customer relationships can turn out to be quite an advantageous move for your business. Let us see how.
Benefits of Positive Customer Relations
Now that you know how customer relations differs from customer service, why should you prioritize it and what benefits can you gain?
Here are 5 points that highlight the importance of effective consumer relations:
- Create a Loyal Customer Base
No matter if you own a small cafe or run a multi-million dollar IT company, loyal customers drive your business forward. For example, remember how you visit the same cafe to get your favorite cup of coffee every time you are around that location?
According to Microsoft, 96% of consumers across the globe consider customer service as an important factor in their choice of loyalty to a brand.
Creating positive relationships with your customers inspires a type of loyalty that surpasses many common reasons why customers usually defect, including cost and convenience. While it may cost your business some amount to invest in building positive customer relations, but at the end of the day, you are rewarded with a loyal customer base.
- Enhance Customer Satisfaction
Businesses that excel at customer relations create the right environment for customers to share their candid feedback. For such businesses, a strong customer feedback loop is central to their operations.
But what’s the benefit of establishing a strong feedback culture?
By capturing customer feedback from time to time, you can assess the needs of your customers without any hurdle. You can easily measure how satisfied they are with your services, employees, or their overall experience with your business. When customers engage with a brand that values their feedback and wants to improve their experience, customer satisfaction levels automatically go up.
- Generate Repeat Business
One of the main benefits of delightful customer experiences is that it persuades people to do business with your company more than once.
According to a study by Gartner, when it comes to making a purchase, 64% of customers find customer experience more important than price.
But what really leads to repeat purchases? The truth is that repeat sales are not accidental and happen when you make it easier for customers to buy from you and assist them across multiple touchpoints. Even small gestures such as a thank-you email can make customers feel valued regardless of the amount of their purchase.
- Gain a Competitive Advantage
No matter what you sell, there are good chances that you have business competitors in the market who share the same target audience as you do. So how do you stand apart from the crowd?
Another importance of customer relationship is that it puts your brand right above your competitors. In a time where customers often complain about the feeling that they mean little to a business and are taken for granted, customer relations can set your business on the right foot. It can give your brand a unique identity and make your customers choose you over your rivals.
- Boost Employee Morale
The quality of service and care you provide to your customers has a direct impact on the kind of work environment you create for your company. When employees see that you respect your customers, are kind to them, and are willing to go the mile, they feel more connected to the values on which your company is founded.
Therefore, building positive customer relations is a great way to boost employee morale and make them love what they do.
10 Ways to Build Rock-Solid Customer Relationships
Take a look at your strongest and long-lasting friendships. What made the relationship grow stronger as time passed? The right answer is always and always EFFORTS.
Here are 10 customer relation strategies that will put your team into action:
#1. Practice Consistent & Proactive Communication
Consistent communication is one of the key strategies for effective consumer relations. Your customers should never feel like your business has forgotten about them right after making a purchase.
Rather than just informing customers about your products or services, it is important to have real one-to-one conversations with them. Ask your employees to reach out to customers and find out what they need, what their aspirations are, and what your business can do to create a long-term relationship with them.
Now, proactive communication can help your business build trust and avoid future issues. To practice proactive communication, regularly update customers about the status of their issue, report any unusual activity in their account, share industry news and trends via newsletters, etc.
Example: Let’s see how Netflix practices proactive communication
Netflix, the leading video streaming service provider has over 200 million subscribers. Now, imagine upsetting so many people when things go haywire. As a result, during any downtime or technical issues, Netflix proactively communicates with its subscribers over its Twitter account and saves the situation.
#2. Be Willing to Exceed Expectations
Customers today expect more than simply a product that works great or a service that helps them save money. Amidst such high expectations, you need to raise the bar on what your company offers and strive to exceed customer expectations.
Now, we understand that under-promise, and over-deliver isn’t always possible. However, when you do that, customers can’t help but keep coming back.
There are a lot of ways to exceed customer expectations. For example, you can deliver a product or service faster than anticipated. Simply tell the customer that they can expect their product within 7 days and try to deliver it well before that.
#3. Create a World Class Customer Service Model
If there’s one thing that frustrates your customers, it is following up with multiple customer service agents, constantly repeating the nature of the issue or complaint, and still not getting a clear and concrete solution. This is precisely the reason why you should improve your customer service.
But does good customer service give you good results? Yes, it does!
According to Dimensional Research, 52% of customers say they have made an additional purchase from a company after a positive customer service experience.
Now, many businesses focus so much on the quality of customer service that they forget to keep a tab on time. Along with quality, the time taken to respond to customers is equally important. You can use customer support software to deliver instant solutions to customers without compromising on the quality and track your ticket resolution times.
#4. Nothing Beats Personalized Experiences
At the end of the day, customers buy from you as they are able to relate to your brand. It can be something as simple as the color of your logo or the values your business represents through social corporate responsibilities.
Every customer that engages with your brand is unique. A personalized customer experience will make them feel special in a crowded marketplace.
To foster effective customer relations, get to know your customers and understand their likes or dislikes. Great them by their names, communicate with them on the channels they prefer, and always remember their past interactions or activities.
Now, customers are different- while some customers prefer short conversations, others can chat with anyone. Therefore, you can try to create customer personas and segment your customers based on their personalities.
#5. Take Out Time to Appreciate Your Customers
No matter if you are a small business or a large corporation, the biggest asset you have is your customers. But how often do you take the time to say a simple thank you or reward them for everything they have done for your business?
Small steps if taken to appreciate customers can go a long way in building and sustaining fruitful customer relationships.
Here are some top ways to thank your customers:
- Thankyou Notes or Emails: Simply thank your customers via handwritten notes or email right after they make a purchase. Show them that you value their relationship with your brand.
- Freebies: Everybody loves free stuff. Every now and then reward your customers with freebies such as t-shirts, mugs, etc., or complementary products whenever they make a large purchase.
- Loyalty Programs: Start a loyalty program, through which customers can earn points or rewards for buying your products or services. Let them redeem those points the next time they purchase from you.
Example: Let’s see how Adobe recognizes and appreciates its customers
Adobe’s design tools are used by a variety of creatives from across the globe. Adobe not only uses Twitter to provide customer service but also to appreciate the work of designers. It showcases the works and tutorials of creative professionals to all its followers and recognizes their efforts.
#6. Create an Impactful Employee Training Program
Employees are your first customers and you need to ensure they are well-prepared for all the challenges that come their way. Trained and motivated employees will go the extra mile to keep your customers happy, loyal, and delighted.
Create department-specific training programs to allow employees to hone their skills and gain knowledge. Don’t forget to train your customer-facing employees on soft skills such as active listening, empathy, patience, etc.
In addition to training your employees, it is important to equip them with all the tools they need to build customer relations. The right CRM and analytics tools will allow them to store customer information in a central place, collaborate with other members or teams, and interact with customers with relevant context.
#7. Focus on the Small Things
Contemporary businesses are investing so much in big and heavy things like AI-powered technology or customer behavior analytics that they forget to see the value in small and simple things.
You might think otherwise, but customers pay attention to detail. How they are greeted when they enter your store or how your service reps handle their complaints, customers notice everything.
Therefore, it is important to make the most of every situation and make your customers feel special. On their birthdays or anniversaries, share a personalized message and greet them with a genuine smile as soon as they enter your store. The ROI of doing such an initiative might be hard to calculate but your customer will forever remember and cherish the moment for a long time.
#8. Apologize When Needed
Let’s be honest, even the biggest brands in this world have made mistakes. After all, making mistakes is what makes us human. But does that mean you can repeat them? Obviously not!
In order to improve your relationship with customers and avoid losing them, you have to make it a point to apologize outright every time you commit a mistake or let down a customer.
We all have heard how apologizing at the right time can save a relationship. Well, that’s equally true for the relationship you share with your customers.
Customers show empathy towards a business that is ready to take ownership and apologizes sincerely to its customers. After all, who does not want to engage with an honest brand that loves and respects you back?
#9. Take Customer Feedback & Act on It
Can you really improve the customer journey without knowing what your customers expect from you in the first place? How would you know whether your customers like or dislike your store ambiance? How would you know if the behavior of a certain employee is leading to poor customer experience?
Capturing customer feedback at key customer touchpoints is one of the top techniques to build customer relationships. For strengthening your relationship, you need to share surveys or web forms to understand what you are doing well and what needs improvement.
Remember, the timing of your surveys is everything. You can ask for feedback at the right time such as when the ordered product is delivered to the customer after a support issue is marked as resolved, or right after giving your customers an in-depth product tour.
Example: Let’s see how Sodexo captures customer feedback through insightful surveys
Sodexo, leading food services and facilities management company, uses in-depth questions throughout their facilities for both customers and employees. The feedback helps the company understand the varying needs of their customers across their entire network of restaurants and cafes. By understanding the needs of customers, they can customize menus, and train employees accordingly.
#10. Figure Out What Makes You “YOU”
There is a lot more to your business than simply what you sell.
It can be anything from your polite sales or customer service employees to your fast and top-quality delivery service. You just need to discover the missing piece of the puzzle and once you find it, you can use that as your strength to attract and retain customers.
Beyond the basic things that customers expect from companies, there is always that X-factor that gets the customer to buy from you. Besides producing excellent products or services, you need to be an exceptional storyteller if you wish to build meaningful relationships.
3 Tools to Help You Build Positive Customer Relationships
Right from CRM to customer support software, there are tools that can help you better manage customer interactions and relationships. Let’s check them out.
Earlier in this blog, we discussed how customer service forms an integral part of customer relations. Well, ProProfs Help Desk gives an edge to your customer service team, lowers their burden, and equips them with all the tools they need to offer 24×7 assistance.
- Automatically assign owners to customer issues or requests
- Easily view past customer interactions in ticket history
- Encourage self-service by creating an extensive help center
- Measure CSAT, NPS, resolution times, and other crucial metrics
It is no news that the popularity of live chat is soaring and is quickly becoming one of the most popular communication channels. ProProfs Chat gives you the option to interact with customers right on your website and hold meaningful conversations.
- Set individual operator greetings to welcome visitors
- Integrate with 50+ powerful business applications
- Create canned responses for faster replies
- Generate quality leads and grow sales for your business
3. Big Contacts
BIGContacts is a powerful tool designed for small businesses to help them easily manage prospect and customer relationships. Your employees can keep customer information organized and easily view contacts by pending or upcoming activity, opportunity, last contact, or last communication.
- Gain a 360-degree view of all customer activity
- Easily track all contacts, tasks, and calendars in one place
- Automated tasks & reminders for timely follow up
- Insightful reports to analyze teams, leads & campaigns
Don’t just make a sale. Foster a strong customer relationship.
When you adopt a bird’s eye view of your business, customer relations may not seem as important as sales, product development, or marketing. But, if there is something that binds all these together – it is customer relations.
Trustworthy and long-term customer relationships can help you create a loyal customer base, encourage repeat purchases, enhance customer satisfaction, and boost employee morale.
For positive customer relations, practice proactive communication, appreciate your customers, apologize when needed, and most importantly- figure out what makes your business unique. Remember, the best relationships are not created in one day but take time.
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