As a business owner, you obviously want customers. And as much as some of them could be a pain in the proverbial at times, the financial success of your business is very much dependent on your relationship with them.
Building good, strong customer relations is the main way you’re going to keep hold of long-term clients; therefore increasing revenue thanks to repeat business, and is key in developing customer loyalty. You’ve no doubt been a customer yourself, so you know how this works, and how your relationship with the person or company you’re doing business with affects whether you use them again in the future, or whether you go to a competitor instead. As a business owner, you need to put the shoe on the other foot and understand that it works both ways.
What Exactly Are Customer Relations?
In a nutshell, ‘customer relations’ refers to the methods you use to engage with your customers and give them the best experience possible. This includes finding solutions to short-term customer problems, as well as creating and putting into place long-term answers that will lead to customer success. In other words - keeping customers happy so that the money keeps rolling in.
But why is it so important? Surely, if you’ve put a banging product or service out there, customer satisfaction will simply take care of itself?
No matter how amazing your product is, its success - and therefore the success of your business - is reliant on your customer relations.
If your customers don’t like you, or you’re a hassle to deal with (I’m talking about not replying to enquiries in a timely fashion, crappy delivery times, and not dealing with customer complaints for example), then your great product isn’t going to get the attention and plaudits it deserves. After all, there’s always someone else out there providing something the same or similar, and they’re just waiting to welcome in the customers that you can’t land.
The truth is, there’s a lot of choice out there for customers, and they’re no longer just interested in what you’re selling. They’re interested in how you’re selling it, and what happens after you’ve sold it to them. All this means that businesses are under more pressure than ever to invest in customer service in order to meet rising customer demands.
And that includes you.
How To Create An Excellent Customer Experience Across Every Interaction
The title of the blog has no doubt given it away - but basically, in order to provide the very best experience for your customers, you have to focus on managing your customer relationships.
This means making sure that your customer service teams, customer support system, marketing, and sales teams are all top-notch when it comes to putting the customer first, as they are the departments that play a key role in your company’s interactions with clients.
Reactive And Proactive Functions
These functions are performed by your customer service teams, and keep your customer relationships ticking over nicely.
- Reactive functions: the efforts your team makes to solve any problems your customers report. This includes responding to and dealing with complaints, and these functions are essential if you want to build strong relationships with your customers and keep them coming back time and time again.
- Proactive functions: the things you do as a company to ensure long-term customer relationships. This involves making sure that evolving customer needs are constantly being satisfied. Your team can do this by providing product information and updates, as well as promoting discounts and exclusive offers. This will help you make a lasting impression on your customers, and help make them become loyal to your brand.
The Difference Between Customer Service And Customer Relations
Sure, they go hand-in-hand - but they are not one and the same. Think of them as similar concepts, but with one very distinctive difference…
Your business provides customer service to ensure customer success. Good customer service is expected - nay, demanded - by customers from their very first interaction with you. Customer service is provided in response to a customer action.
Customer relations includes not just all of the functions that customer service does, but also the efforts you have to make before and after your customer interactions. An immediate response to customer needs is definitely a way of providing good customer service - but it’s the working on solutions for any future stumbling blocks that will help you to build good, long-term customer relations.
What Are The Benefits of Positive Customer Relations?
The benefits of building good relationships with your customers are numerous - and possibly fairly obvious, so bear with me while I remind you…
1. Increased customer retention. Studies have shown that a whopping 61% of customers will stop buying from a business if they have a poor experience. The overwhelming majority of customers are willing to overlook mistakes (they understand the concept of human and technological error!), as long as they can see that your company is making an effort to rectify the situation. Retaining customers through good relationships will increase profits - in fact, increasing your customer retention rates by just 5% can boost your profits by 25% to 95%
2. More customer loyalty. It’s much harder for your competitors to lure your customers away once they have a good relationship with you. Customer loyalty is hugely important because repeat customers are more likely to purchase your products and services again than a potential lead that hasn’t been converted yet.
3. Customer satisfaction. How can you tell if your customers are really happy with you or not? One of the big tell-tale signs is that they don’t come back, and 58% of unhappy customers do just that - they don’t come back. Think of strong customer relations as an insurance policy that will prevent these customers from heading elsewhere without warning or feedback.
And talking of feedback…
4. Increased customer feedback. Good customer relations fosters an open channel of communication, which will build up trust and even influence your customer’s buying decisions. You might think that advertising is king when it comes to what your customers will buy, but studies have shown that a good customer experience actually has more influence over their decisions.
So, if you’re not already working your butt off to strengthen customer relations, now would be the time to start, and soon your business will be enjoying the benefits.
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