How do you build a strong relationship with your customers? What are the best customer relationship marketing strategies for small businesses? Well, i advice you read on to find out.
Relationship marketing, just as the name implies is simply the art of developing a personal relationship with your customers. Anybody can start a business but not everybody can build a strong customer relationship.
“Business is not just doing deals; business is having great products, doing great engineering and providing tremendous service to customers. Finally, business is a cobweb of human relationship.” – Henry Ross Perot
If building a business successfully from scratch is your major priority? Then you need to put a strong relationship marketing strategy in place and the goal of this strategy is to build a strong customer relationship for your business. Building a strong customer relationship begins with you asking yourself the question: How well do I know my customers? Today, I will be sharing with you 10 strategies that will help you build a strong customer relationship. I will be showing how to brand your business name on the heart of your customers; I will be teaching you how to build brand loyalty for your business.
Customers are known to be indecisive but they are all looking for something in common, “value at a fair price.” Customers are looking for solutions to their problem and how do you know their problems when you have no relationship with them. Customers value relationship a lot, they are always looking for someone to discuss their problems with and this is where you come in.
“There is only one boss; the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company, from the chairman down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” – Sam Walton
With a global increase in competition; which is as a result of the advent of the internet, a strong customer relationship can be your competitive strategy to gaining undue advantage in your niche. Whether you run an online business or an offline business, there is need to connect with your customers.
“The purpose of a business is to create a customer.” – Peter F. Drucker
Is a Relationship Marketing Strategy also needed for an online business?
My answer is a resounding ‘yes.’ In fact, building a strong customer relationship is more important to an online business that an offline business and this is the reason. The entrepreneur behind an online business is usually anonymous or virtual; there is no face to face contact between the entrepreneur and the web visitors. No face-to-face discussion and opportunity to persuade potential customers to make a purchase. That is to say that gaining customer’s trust or building brand loyalty is more difficult online because humans always yearn for a one on one relationship.
Since building a customer relationship online is more difficult, you must strive to make every second count for your online visitors. When visitors arrive on your website for the first time, their first glance will be your headline. If the headline connects with their need, they then proceed to read the rest of your content. Therefore, building a strong customer relationship online starts with your website headline. Make sure your headline connects with your visitors and a great way to do this is to include a specific promise or benefit in your headline. For instance, a weight loss website or blog may use the headline below:
“Get Instant Information; Discover How to Lose 30kg in 30 Days or less without Starving Yourself.”
I know I have deviated a little into copywriting but all the same; copywriting is simply the act of using words and symbols to connect with your customers. Using headlines as the sample above will instantly connect you with a first time visitor but please, don’t make false promises as this is the fastest way to ruin your reputation; whether online or offline. Without wasting much of your time, below are 10 relationship marketing strategies to creating long-lasting relationships which in turn creates helps long-lasting customers and repeated sales.
10 Relationship Marketing Strategies for Building Customer Loyalty
1. Make every customer interaction count
Your first strategy to building a strong customer relationship is to make every customer interaction count. Don’t take a single customer for granted. Each and every interaction with a customer is a gift and should be valued. But how do you bring about that interaction? You can achieve that by setting up a focus group made up of loyal customers. A focus group can be a vital tool to getting into the mind of your customers and knowing their needs.
“You can’t just ask the customers what they want and try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they will want something new.” – Steve Jobs
2. Follow-through on commitments and claims about products or services. Just as I said earlier, your business must make a specific promise to the customer and deliver on that promise if it intends to win the heart of the customer. False claims however should be avoided at all cost as it can harm your credibility.
3. Offer benefits and product value that responds to the customer’s desires. Another positive step to building a strong customer relationship is to offer value to the customer. Go all out to let your customers know you are a stickler for quality.
“If you build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” – Jeff Bezos
4. Treat customers as individuals who are respected and valued. As an entrepreneur, I believe you know how hard it is to find one good customer. I hope you also know that it cost more to find a new customer than to take care of existing ones.
“It all comes back to the basic. Serve customers the best tasting food at a good value in a clean restaurant, and they will keep coming back.” – Dave Thomas
“Courteous treatment will make a customer a walking advertisement.” – James Cash Penny
5. Listen to customers. Even complaints can be a gift if handled properly and quickly. Be available and accessible when customers have questions, concerns, or comments. Humans always look for someone to talk to or share their problems with. If you can listen more to your customers, you will end up knotting the bond between the customer and your business.
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates
“Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You will be amazed at how many companies don’t listen to their customers.” – Henry Ross Perot
6. Build a strong brand identity. Make it easy for your customers to identify your business or products in the midst of the crowd. Create a winning slogan, tagged with a catchy logo and a unique theme. Most important, make a specific promise and deliver on that promise. You can also forge that specific promise into a USP just like FedEx and Domino Pizzas did. If Fortune 500 companies such as Coca Cola, Nike, and McDonalds are investing in building a strong brand identity, why shouldn’t you?
“If you are not a brand, you are a commodity.” – Robert Kiyosaki
7. Surround your customers with valuable information by using emails, website content, social media, and other methods of outreach but do not be invasive. Keep them informed on the latest trend, price or development. You must also make it easy for customers to reach you; if possible, be their next door neighbor.
8. Does your business have a website? If your answer is no, then it’s time to get one. If yes, then you should consider making your website user-friendly and easy to navigate for new and existing customers. The World Wide Web is making it easier for businesses to build a strong customer relationship with their customers; why don’t you take advantage of it?
9. Reward loyal customers. This is a point that can never be over emphasized. Most businesses go after new customers while forgetting that the existing customers need to be taken care of. Introducing a loyalty program is a very effective relationship marketing strategy. Nothing strengthens a bond more than appreciation. Thanking customers for sticking to your brand will go a long way to make them know they are important. A simple thank you package might be all your business needs to connect personally with your existing customers.
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job everyday to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” – Jeff Bezos
10. Create a blog about your business where discussion is more casual and inviting. Blogging is a trend that has come to stay. Almost all businesses today maintain a blog. A blog is a powerful communication tool that can help you stay in touch with your customers. I know some individuals that have built a strong personal brand online using blogs as a platform. A blog improves your customer relationship process and can be a tool to obtaining instantaneous feedback from your customers.
As a final note, building a strong customer relationship is not rocket science. All you need to do is to take into consideration the little things that matters. Creating long lasting relationships helps to ensure long-lasting customers and repeat sales. Customers want to know that they are valued and appreciated as an individual. Showing existing customers that value and appreciation encourages them to refer their colleagues, friends, and others to your business. So armed with these 10 relationship marketing strategies, you can build a strong customer relationship and outperform the giants.