How to connect with your customersOpinion ·
Customer relations are essential to the success of every business. A business's customer base is the primary source of revenue, and customer satisfaction is critical for repeat business.
Developing a customer base requires spending money on marketing to promote products or services. Identifying and building good customer relations is essential because it helps you increase your revenue on the long-term, reduce costs and even achieve higher margins.
Today's technology makes building customer relationships more straightforward than ever. There are numerous ways to develop strong customer relationships in this fast-paced world.
Would you like to improve your relationship with customers? Keep reading this article to find out how to successfully do that.
Different types of customer relations
First, let’s look at the definition of customer relations and the different types of customer relations.
What does the term "customer relations" mean?
When we talk about customer relationships we refer to the strategies used to engage with your customers and improve their experience with your brand. That includes providing answers to their queries and concerns and taking proactive action to create long-term customer success.
Building positive, long-term and trust-based relationships with customers is extremely beneficial for your business and therefore deserve attention and financial support.
Building customer relations is a company-wide process that involves every member of your organization regardless of their positions and roles. It’s the sum of all customer interactions and experiences to create a bond between the brand and its buyers.
A good customer relations strategy helps to build trust and brand reputation with your customers. You can create a broad spectrum of customer relations for your business.
1. Transactional relations
Transactional relations primarily focus on exchanging money for your products. The goal of every interaction with the customer is to complete a transaction.
Brands that focus on transactional customer relations are not going to build customer trust or brand loyalty. Their aim is short-term profitability. They only attract customers looking for a specific product they feel they need at the moment, but they are not interested in building a relationship with a brand.
2. Personal assistance
During and after the purchase, customers might need support from you. In this circumstance, the customer engage with a brand representative to ask for support during the sale or after the purchase is completed. These interactions can take place either physically or through digital channels.
3. Dedicated personal assistance
Some individual clients can have a specific company representative dedicated to them. It is the most profound type of customer relations and is common in financial institutions for high-net-worth clients. Marketing agencies also have account managers to maintain personal relationships with important customers.
Brands can also build customer relations through self-service support. In this case, the company provides customers with all the necessary tools to help themselves. These are unilateral communications mostly seen in eCommerce as online stores provide a wide range of solutions, such as chatbots, to improve the customer’s shopping experience.
5. Automated services
That’s a more sophisticated mix of self-service with automated processes, also standard in the eCommerce industry. Businesses use automation such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to schedule automatic responses to specific queries and considerably reduce employee workload. The software solutions collect individual customers' characteristics and offer information related to the transactions and orders history.
6. Community building
Companies are increasingly looking to build communities around their brands. Community-based relationships are multi-faceted and involve engaging customers to create a lasting impression at all sales funnel stages.
The community acts as a brand advocate and tells your story. Customers participate and can learn from the experiences of each other. It takes time to establish and nurture community-based customer relations.
7. Co-creation process
Nowadays, personalization of the customer experience is vital. In the co-creation process, company and customers collaborate to create value together. Customers are given a say in product design, delivery, and other aspects that touch on them. It is more about creating a two-way dialogue to ensure you are providing value. Like community relations, the goal is to foster brand loyalty and customer retention.
You can have different relations with your customers depending on the type of business, the business model, and your business lifecycle.
Businesses can integrate multiple types of customer relations into a unique system, such as Layerise, to help acquire, retain, and grow their customer base and create a value chain for the business and its customers.
The importance of building valuable customer relations
Putting amazing products into the market is important. But then you need customers actually buying the product to be successful. Strong customer relations determine whether your business makes or breaks.
Consumers aren’t just looking for great products. 82% of consumers say they wouldn’t purchase from a brand if they feel that their values don’t match, not even if it was their favorite product. They are interested in what you’re selling, how you doing it, and what happens after the sale.
An effective customer relations strategy is the backbone of sustainable business growth. Here are some benefits of building valuable customer relations.
1. Increased customer satisfaction
It can often be hard to tell whether your customers are happy. But if you notice your churn rate increases, it could be that the satisfaction level is decreasing. 96% of customers will leave you for bad customer service. And most of them won’t even raise a complaint before leaving.
So, instead of waiting for your churn rates to increase, why not improve your customer relations? Strong customer relations safeguard you against your customers disappearing on you without warning. If they have to churn, they’ll at least share the feedback with you (the importance of customer feedback in the next point).
2. Invaluable customer feedback
Positive customer relations also help create an open communication channel with your customers and get valuable insights into their problems. It would be best if you had this feedback to build better customer interactions, improve brand trust, and increase your customer's lifetime value.
Positive customer relations make it easier to get customer feedback. It allows you to turn customers into loyal customers and even brand advocates.
3. Increased customer retention
According to a Microsoft State Of Global Customer Service Report, 61% of customers will ditch a brand if they have a negative experience.
The market is crowded with similar products to yours and equally competitive pricing. What sets you apart from your competitors is the kind of experience you offer.
Today, customer experience is the number one brand differentiator. Positive customer relations will increase customer retention rates and, in turn, reduce customer acquisition costs. Studies also show that a 5% increase in customer retention can boost your profits by at least 25%.
4. Increased customer loyalty
When you have a good relationship with your customers, losing them to your competitors becomes difficult. Building customer loyalty takes time and resources, but the return on investment is massive. Loyal customers are not only good for repeat purchases, but they also make the most prominent brand ambassadors for your business. 88% of consumers trust product recommendations from their friends and family.
Now, do you see why you need loyal customers in your corner? Increased customer loyalty can be instrumental in generating consistent revenue over time.
Customer service vs. customer relations: key differences you should know
Customer relations and customer service are often used interchangeably. They may have similar concepts, but there are distinct differences between them. They don’t mean the same thing.
First, customer service is an inbound function. It’s what you provide to customers at the first point of interaction to ensure customer success. Most customer service functions are delivered in response to customer action.
On the other hand, customer relations is both an inbound and outbound function. It includes proactive measures to improve present and future customer experiences. Instead of waiting for the customer to engage you, you take the initiative.
Customer service also focuses on immediate customer needs. Customer relations focuses on long-term customer experience solutions.
Third, the purpose of customer service is to resolve customer inquiries and complaints, while the goal of customer relations is building a relationship with the customers.
The reality is that the functions of customer service and customer relations often overlap. You can improve your customer service by developing better complaint resolution systems (a function of customer relations). And you can improve customer relations by rethinking every point of the customer’s interactions with your brand (a function of customer service).
In a nutshell, customer relations and customer service share overlapping principles; the only fundamental difference between them is that the latter is reactive.
The steps to building strong customer relations
Customer relations are one of the main components of any effective business growth strategy. It is the entry point for building a lasting bond between your brand and the consumers, giving them a reason to choose you over your competitors. Here are a few tips for building strong customer relations:
1. Create a customer-first culture
You should adopt a customer-centric culture to create positive customer relations. It would help if you focused on immediate customer success and long-term customer experience solutions. Ensure the customer’s needs are taken care of at every sales funnel stage.
Other ways you can create a customer-first culture include:
first-call resolution rates
to customers through incentives such as giveaways and loyalty programs;
for your customers to interact with each other and the brand;
such as webinars and how-to guides that help your customers grow better;
improving customer satisfaction
through, for example, customer satisfaction surveys.
2. Be accessible
Your team should always be ready to help customers with their queries and concerns. Customers appreciate the availability, and they’ll patronize your business if they know help is easily accessible. Technology such as self-help desks (more in the next point) can help to improve availability and accessibility. But don’t forget the memorable experience that human interactions can provide, especially if you are a brick-and-mortar business.
3. Create opportunities for self-service
Self-service solutions such as FAQ and user guides can help to provide customers with simple business solutions and guide them through your website. They enable you to help your customers even when a team member isn’t present. That helps to take care of self-sufficient customers and improve their satisfaction.
That’s not to say that you should replace your customer service teams with self-service solutions. Again, human interaction is essential.
4. Be personal
This is perhaps the most important tip. Giving your brand a human face makes it easier for customers to interact with you and buy your products, even for self-service options.
It would help if you had an actual member of your team sign off emails, chats, and other online interactions with their name. While chatbots used to be an exception for this, more and more companies are utilizing an internal alias for automated customer assistance.
5. Empower your employees
Remember the famous quote by Richard Branson that "if you take care of your employees, they will take care of the customers"?
Studies indicate that happy employees are more productive. If you want to improve your customer relations, your first focus should be your employees. Empower them and create a more satisfying work environment for them. You should also invest in constant employee training so their skills are up to date with industry standards.
Your employees are, after all, your first customers. Take care of them.
6. Leverage digital solutions to improve efficiency
Lastly, you should leverage technology to improve the efficiency of your customer service. A CRM system can help to expand your customer service bandwidth and create positive experiences for consumers who interact with your business. It also gives you actionable insights on how to improve your customer relations.
How Layerise can help you create valuable customer relations
You don’t stumble your way to great and valuable customer relations. You have to build it. It begins with considering your customers’ needs and exceeding their expectations.
As eCommerce grows, technology is becoming integral to building positive customer relations. Solutions such as Layerise are reinventing customer relations and enabling businesses to use their resources more effectively to improve customer relations. We enable you to consider every customer touchpoint for a strong, trusting, and lasting connection with your customers.
If you want to learn more about how to build long-lasting trust relationships with customers, book a free demo now!
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