Your customers are your company’s lifeblood. Everyone knows their importance, and how much effort is placed on making sure they are satisfied with the service or product you provide. Without them, your business would be nothing.
So, why is it so hard to build genuine relationships with them? It seems like it would be a natural progression, from realizing their crucial role in your success to connecting. Yet, it is one of the most difficult tasks ahead of all business owners, of any level.
It only takes looking at extreme examples to see how failing to build relationships can come back to bite us. Look at Xfinity. As a monopoly in the cable industry, they were able to regularly upset customers and still retain their patronage because there was no other choice. But now Google Fiber is spreading, and they are watching their customers drop off in droves and their lobbying influence diminish as Internet is labeled a public utility in the US.
While you might not be a huge corporation, the lesson is important. Relationships trump profits. But they also lead to profits in the long term as you retain the business of dedicated customers.
Here are some ways that you can build real relationships with your customers.
Make Your Site For The Buyer!
I know it sounds obvious but I’ve seen so many companies who have put together their sites for everyone else: Their boss, a search bot, a random reader but not the buyer!
This might be the whole new topic but I don’t mean to intimidate anyone here. Every little thing counts. Provide an extra way to contact you: Here’s a good selection of options. Explore fancier ways to explain your product or service.
My recent discovery is WhatFix, a cool app that lets you create interactive flows to guide a user through your site. You can see a demo here.
I am currently using their free account but they have a business option too. This page also explains how the widgets can help you in client onboarding.
Constantly explore new options to help your future customer: Make your site more visual and interactive!
Don’t Be Afraid Of Direct, Casual Interaction
No one wants to feel like they are talking to a customer service programmed robot. The most successful social pages are the ones with that are casual, fun, and personable. Just look at Twitter profiles for companies like @TacoBell. Half of the enthusiasm for the company seems to be based around their amusing engagement strategy.
There is a time and place for dull professionalism. Customer engagement does better when given a personal touch.
Read further: 8 Genuine Ways To Keep In Touch On Social Media
Don’t Be Afraid To Be Quirky
Just like being casual, you can be quirky. Remember that the core audience of most companies these days are millenials and younger generations. There is a certain expectation within those groups, and quirkiness is a big part of it. Mainly due to the fact that so many companies are startups launched by CEO’s in their own demographic.
Don’t be afraid to get a little weird and fun. Just look at the Old Spice commercials for an example of how being offbeat can entirely re-brand a company’s image.
Follow The Trend: Be Flexible and Fast!
Your flexibility is your biggest competitive advantage: It’s your way to beat the huge stale brands! Here’s one of my personal examples – PrintmePoster.com (Disclaimer: I know the guys behind this project!)
There are lots of sites selling posters: It’s actually hard to stand out! That’s why I love how this site has come up with their “Print your Instagram” program. .
I am using Instagram to capture most special moments. Lots of people are the same! Who wouldn’t like a poster filled with awesome memories!
It has come like a very timely program: Instagram was on the wave when they launched!
Track the trends and strategize accordingly!
Try To Engage Face To Face
Any opportunity you get for face to face interaction, take it. Conferences, expo halls, public and community events… anything that gives you genuine time with customers. You would be amazed at the difference this makes.
You can also do this on a B2B level. Checkout Meetups.com, for example, and look for events for local CEOs and founders. Those connections can get you really far, and builds stronger relationships than just communicating via social networks.
Never underestimate the power of looking in someone’s eyes and shaking their hands!
Emails Are Your Most Powerful Tool
Emails are still, to this day of social media platforms, your most powerful engagement tool. You should always be looking to build your email subscriber list, no matter what your company does. It should tie into every marketing strategy you have at your disposal.
A few simple ways to build your email list include:
- Create regular, high quality content such as ebooks, infographics, and even videos that require an email to access behind a sign-up wall. Here’s a great example of that strategy accomplished well: Notice the consistent branding and the variety of PRO content!
- Put a CTA in emails to forward them to people. A great way to promote this idea is to put a coupon code that can be shared with someone else.
- Offer free samples, trials, or contests that require an email.
Customer Building Isn’t Just A Good Idea, It Is Crucial
Building relationships with customers should be one of the most important items on your agenda. Not only is it a focus in the beginning, but it should always be at the forefront of your mind. Failing to make it a priority will severely limit the power and stability of your company and brand.
There is also the issue of online reputation crisis. Whatever you do, there is a good chance your brand will face a controversy at some point. If you are not strongly connected with your customers, they won’t defend you. You will quickly find the situation spiraling out of control, and cleaning up the mess will be much harder.
Do you have some tips to share? Leave them in the comments!
Images: Author’s Own
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