Don't feel like reading? Listen to our audio version.
Starting a business is no easy venture. Regardless of whether it’s an online business or not, the primary goal is to sell products or services. However, many companies make a crucial mistake - they don’t focus enough on their clients. Instead, they believe that the key to success lies in the products and services, which is understandable. In reality, selling a product requires more than just the product itself or the way you market it.
You need customers. Your customers not only purchase from you, but they can also help market your products or services if you play your cards right. The business world is continuously changing, and you need to make sure you stay updated. We’re going to be talking about the importance of client-business relationships and how your customer is more than just a potential buyer.
If you want to grow your business, you need to tap into your client’s mindset and leverage the power of a loyal client base. At the end of the day, the customer holds the key to your business' success.
It’s More Than Numbers
In business, you have one primary goal: sell products or services. That’s it. You want to receive a profit for the goods and services you sell. It sounds pretty easy, right? You have a product or service you’d like to sell, you make it available, customers purchase your product, and you make a profit. This cycle is supposed to continue and result in a growth in your business. However, in the business world, it’s more complicated than that. Of course some businesses will achieve success through these means, but most companies need to go the extra mile to acquire and maintain healthy growth. When it comes to growth, it’s more than just numbers. Sales are great, and strong sales do indicate high consumer demand, but there is much more behind these numbers than the product itself. When it comes to success, your business’s growth relies primarily on the relationship your company has with its customers. As RAIN Group President Mike Shultz says:
“People buy with their hearts and justify with their heads.”
In other words, people make choices based on the personal connection they have with the brand they’re buying from. You should strive to use this relationship to increase sales and brand awareness. Understanding the importance of the relationship between businesses and their customers is essential if you want organic growth. Regardless of the quality of your product or service, if a customer feels connected, they’ll be more inclined to do business with you, and spread the word about your company. And we all know good customers are return customers.
The Importance of Customer-Business Relationships
It’s highly beneficial to develop and maintain meaningful and positive business relationships with your customers. Satisfied customers who feel valued will promote your products - for free. Many businesses with exceptional products fail due to ignoring the importance of customer relationships. If you’re not convinced relationships are essential to the growth of your business, this should change your mind. Here are the main benefits of great customer-business relationships.
You Develop Your Communication Skills
Almost all businesses require you to communicate with customers on a daily basis. Through this communication, you’re creating relationships. By working on your communication approach, you’re boosting skills and confidence that will allow you to establish stronger relationships down the line. If you and your staff are confident about your company, this impression will stick with the customer. As a result, they’ll walk away with a feeling of trust in your company, and confident about their purchase.
Brings Repeat Business
One-time customers are always welcome, but those aren’t necessarily the people who will grow your business in a meaningful way. The customers you need are repeat customers. These are customers who value your brand and stay loyal, always coming back for more. A subscription model is a good way of securing repeat customers, as is offering loyalty programmes and discounts for repeat business.
Helps Increase Brand Awareness
The reputation of your company is essential for long-term success. By creating strong and positive relationships, you will increase your brand’s reputation. You want your company to be seen as reliable and trustworthy, regardless of what you sell. Why? Because this will make your customers feel secure in your business. In other words, you’ll get return sales. Not only that, but a happy customer will spread the word to friends and family and provide you valuable free promotion. The same applies for positive feedback and ratings online.
Helps Promote Your Business
When someone feels good about the goods or service they receive, they will immediately tell other people. This is why relationships are crucial in business. People will go out of their way to introduce others to a company that they trust and feel positive about. When it comes to word-of-mouth marketing, 90% of consumers are more likely to trust a brand if it comes highly recommended by friends and family. On top of that, $6 trillion dollars of annual consumer spending is generated by word of mouth marketing. Treat your customers like you would a close friend, and they’ll spread the word.
Improves Customer Satisfaction
When it comes to customer service, we all know you’re not able to satisfy everyone all the time. You may have made a mistake with a customer’s order or misunderstood the customer’s needs - these things happen. Nevertheless, your goal is to ensure your customers are taken care of to the best of your ability and that their issues are resolved as soon as possible.
By focusing on the client and efficiently resolving their problems, they’ll be more inclined to continue doing business with your company. Treat your customers well, and they will reward you. We’ve all heard people talk about companies that provide outstanding customer service. Be that company.
Keeps Business Moving
In all business, regardless of the industry, you’re going to experience periods of sluggish growth. If the economy isn’t doing well, your customers will be the first ones to feel it. If you create healthy and strong relationships, even in hard times, your loyal customers are going to continue to purchase from you. It may not be at the same volumes as before, but they will keep you afloat.
Creates More Relationships
When you continuously build positive relationships with your customers, you’re going to enjoy the benefits. As a result, you will probably feel more inclined to create even more positive relationships. When a customer is satisfied with the purchased product or service, they will talk about it and recommend your company to other people. This is extremely valuable promotion that money just can’t buy.
Think Of Your Clients As Partners
To truly leverage the power of your customers, you need to be able to see them as partners. At first, this might seem like a bit of a strange concept. It’s essential you get the most out of your investment in customer relationships. Make it a two way deal: you provide value to your customers, so why shouldn’t they provide value for you. Here are some factors you can implement in your business to hack your customers:
Clients as Referrals
Businesses are always focusing on how to create brand awareness. As a result, they’ll invest thousands of dollars into marketing. With all this focus on paid advertising, why miss out on the most organic way of generating traffic and sales: customer referrals. As mentioned above, 90% of consumers trust recommendations from their friends and family. What does this mean? It means your clients are your ticket to creating brand awareness and returning customers. People trust the opinions of those closest to them, be it word of mouth or glowing online reviews.
Get The Right Reviews
You don’t want just any review, you want the review that’s going to push people to click ‘buy now’. When putting a customer review on your website or social media, make sure it’s positive and hits the core needs of the customer. People are coming to your site and buying your products for a specific reason. Use analytics to tap into the mindset of your customer and choose a review that reflects their needs and values.
Although it might seem tempting, and even reap some short term benefits, steer clear of buying fake comments and reviews. This has become a prevalent practice online, and ultimately results in bringing down the overall credibility of a brand. Not only that, but you might incur penalties from sites like Amazon, and see a distinct dip in your google rankings. The big guys are cracking down on fake reviews, so be warned.
Testimonials, Testimonials, Testimonials
When it comes to buying products, people want to know they’re making the right decision. More often than not, people do their research before buying anything. They read reviews and testimonials until they make a final decision. Your business needs to have testimonials, talking about your products and why potential customers should purchase them.
Written testimonials are good, but if you want to hit the jackpot, you need video testimonials from loyal customers. If a customer loves your products, it will show on camera. Offer discounts and other incentives to persuade customers to prove you with a video testimonial. Everybody wins.
Test New Ideas on Loyal Customers
You may want to add a new product to your website or create an app, but what do your existing customers think about these ideas? Involving loyal customers in business decisions is a great way to build a community and gain a sense of what your customers need, and how they feel. Maybe they want a discontinued item to come back to your website, or to be able to download your company’s app on their phone. Whatever the suggestions are, pay close attention to them and act accordingly.
Engaging Social Media Posts
Nowadays everything is on social media, so why isn’t your business making the transition? Simply put, there’s no valid reason for your business not to be on social media. If you are using social media to market your business, are you using it to its full extent? You can use social media to build organic followers and drive traffic to your website for free. By creating engaging posts, your followers will comment, like, and tag their friends and family. By doing so, your customers are acting as pro bono brand ambassadors.
5 Relationship Challenges to Overcome
Although every business has its own unique challenges when developing customer relationships, there are five common difficulties many companies experience:
Maintaining Multiple Relationships
When you’re building relationships with people, you are investing a part of yourself. The more your business grows, the more people you’re going to have to communicate with. This can become stressful. Of course, you won’t be able to give everyone an equal amount of attention; this means you’re going to have to manage your relationships.
You will have to effectively delegate who you give your attention to, and for how long. Are you spending too much time focusing on one-time customers? Do you need to invest more time communicating with your social media followers? As a company, you need to differentiate good clients from bad ones and focus on the former.
Not Staying Honest with Yourself
If you want your business to succeed, you need to stay true to yourself. If not, you’ll be vulnerable to changing your company’s values and becoming less authentic to your customers. Your core customers will come to expect consistency from your brand. Never go against your loyal customers.
Not Building a Community
You can have a business without creating a community, but if you want a successful business, your company needs to create a space where people can connect to the values and goals of your business. You can use social media as a way to create a community while also marketing your products and services. By creating a conversation between you and your customers, you’re on the right path for creating returning customers and growth. People want to purchase from places they can relate to, places where they feel safe. This is the type of environment you should be looking to create.
Not Connecting With Customers Genuinely
Relationships can’t be forced, and people will pick up on a rushed or fake approach. You need to focus on building genuine relationships with your customers. This means you’ll need to connect with them. If you believe in your product and come across as honest, sincere and relatable, you stand a good chance of making a real connection with your desired customer base.
Lack of Transparency
In today’s world, transparency is more crucial than ever. Customers want to have a complete insight into the companies they’re purchasing from, and with good reason. If you’re going to create trusting and long-lasting relationships with your customers, being transparent is a great start. Though this may seem challenging, transparency forms the foundation for creating return customers. People will avoid purchasing goods or services from you if they fell mislead or like they are being lied to.
Now that you know the challenges revolving around building relationships, do an overview of your company and make sure you avoid these issues. There’s now another question we need to ask you. Do you know how to build a relationship with your customers? It’s not as easy as it sounds, but it’s entirely possible.
How to Hack Your Clients to Grow Your Business
Forming relationships with your customers not only improves sales but can also be used for word-of-mouth marketing, and creating a conversation between your customers and people with similar interests. In turn, you’ll be able to develop your business and shift it in the direction of growth. Here are some pointers on how to build relationships with your clients:
Understand the Industry
First and foremost, you need to understand the industry you’re in. You don’t necessarily need to be an industry expert, but you do need to know what’s going on. By staying up to date with the latest industry trends, you’ll be able to speak the same language as your customers. If you understand how they express themselves, you are a step closer to learning how they think. You need to get into the head of your customers to better cater to their needs.
Get to Know Your Clients
If you want to connect with your clients, then you’re going to need to get to know them. This doesn’t mean you need to know every one of them on an individual level. You do, however, need to understand the background and needs of your average client. But how do you get to know them better? Use social media and analytics to measure the personalities of your customers, what they’re into, and why they came to your website.
Build Trust Through Your Work
If you put in the work and effort, it will show. There’s no way around it. If you’re providing exceptional customer service and an outstanding product, people will see it. This is what will create a long-lasting relationship between you and your customers. Go the extra mile and exceed their expectations whenever you can.
Communication Must Be Consistent
Through the internet, and social media in particular, businesses can communicate with their customers on a daily basis. Being responsive to emails, sharing company blog posts, and interacting with your customers on social media is crucial. Your customers need to feel like they’re in the loop, and that your company is being transparent. By consistently being active and communicative, you are more likely to draw the attention of new potential customers.
Get Your Clients Involved
People love feeling like they’re a part of something. As a business, you have the power to create a community and have your customers engage with both your business and one another. You can do this through a variety of ways. One way is to organize giveaways where your followers must tag you and have their friends follow your page to have a chance of winning prizes. This is a great way to engage your followers while also attracting new ones. By asking your clients to post pictures and hashtags of them and your products, you are producing organic growth.
Ask For Feedback
If you don’t ask, you won’t know. Paying attention to your customer’s feedback is essential if you want your business to grow. By ignoring the needs of your customers, you’re neglecting them and they will go elsewhere. Period. By asking them to review products or the website itself, you’ll have a better idea of areas you need to work on. There is always room for improvement, and it’s easy for businesses to overlook customer complaints and feedback.
Things that may not seem important to you could be crucial for your customers. And what’s the phrase we both love and hate to say? “The customer is always right.” Whether you agree with your customers or not, you need to consider any feedback they provide you. Their opinions of your business are the foundation of its success, they’ll find the holes you’ll need to fill in.
Be Confident in Your Expertise
Your customers are coming to you because they believe you can offer them quality products or services. This is where you can display your in-depth knowledge and skills, providing them with valuable information they can use. This can be through social media or blog posts; what’s important is that they understand your website is a place they can come to for information. By doing this, your brand places itself as an authority in its field. You need to be the answer to their question.
8 tips for Building and Maintaining Client Relationships
No one said this was going to be easy. Think of how you make friends. It doesn’t happen overnight; instead it takes months and months of investing time and energy from both sides. Here are a couple of extra tips that’ll help you along the way.
1) Go the Extra Mile
If you pay attention and care for your customers, your business is going to grow. As your company continues to grow, there will come moments where you’re going to have to make tough decisions. You’ll have to decide whether you’re going to expand in specific areas such as products or focus on your customer’s needs. It’s not an easy choice.
2) Make Every Customer Feel Special
When you’re communicating with a customer, they have to feel like you're giving them your full attention. When a customer is happy, they’re more likely to make referrals and be a product ambassador. Whether you’re a small or large business, a happy customer means a returning customer. This type of attention isn’t hard to provide, so long as you have the right team behind you.
3) Go Beyond Email
When you contact a company, they usually respond via email. This isn’t a wrong way to communicate, but it doesn’t always give the impression that you care. Additionally, an email can creates distance between you and the customer. By implementing a chat system, customers will feel more relaxed knowing that they can casually talk to someone right away on your website. Having a customer service phone number is also a valuable feature to have. It makes customers feel like you’re approachable and accessible.
4) Respond Fast
We’re in the age of technology which means everything needs to be accessible just by tapping the screens on our phones. We want fast and high-quality service. This also translates to customer service. No one wants to wait 24 hours to receive a reply via email. They want a response now. When a customer contacts you, make it a priority to reply as quickly as possible, even if you don’t have an answer for them straight away. By swiftly acknowledging them, you’re showing that their question matters to you and your business.
5) Provide Social Proof
When making a purchase, customers usually look for reviews on the websites they’re buying from. In fact, 84% of people trusted online reviews and testimonials from one survey by BrightLocal. What does this mean? It means you need to have a social media presence. Whether via Facebook or Instagram, customers are interested in the opinions of other buyers. They want to make sure their money is going towards a quality product from a trusted brand.
6) Focus on Content
If you want to attract people to your website and spread word of mouth referrals, then you’re going to need content. When it comes to attracting an audience, you’re going to need high-quality content. Make sure you have a blog on your website that provides engaging and informative content for customers to read. Once they start reading the content, they’ll want to explore your website. Another advantage of providing well-written content is your site will come across as more trustworthy and professional.
7) Show Customer Appreciation
You want your customers to know you care. Give long term customers an incentive to continue doing business with you. This can be through a loyalty discount program or specials that allow customers to earn points if they purchase your products or services. For example, offer them 10% off on any purchase on their birthday. You can also gift inexpensive promotional items to loyal customers as a way to keep your business on their mind.
8) Show Them The Next Steps
Many customers browse various websites, unsure of what they should do or buy. Should they buy this? Should they buy that? Do they need anything else? It can sometimes be so overwhelming for customers that they decide to abandon their cart. This isn’t what you want. You need to be able to assist customers with any questions and always provide them with the next step. If they add a pair of shoes to their cart, make sure your website suggests shoelaces or a shoe cleaner as an additional purchase.
By incorporating these tips into your strategy, you’ll be able to build an even stronger relationship with your customers and continue to get the most out of them.
Without your customers, your business wouldn’t exist. As such, your customers aren’t people you should ignore. That being said, it’s essential to use the tools mentioned above to improve customer relationships. By understand why relationships are crucial in the business world, you’ll be able to focus your attention on creating a community that revolves around your company. If customers feel you're treating them with honesty and respect, they’ll pay you back with their loyalty. With that loyalty, you’ll be able to further market your company and gain new customers. Remember, this customer loyalty isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s going to take some time. Once you establish long-lasting relationships, your customers will continue to conduct business with your company and spread the words to others. Your business’s success revolves around the customer, so leverage this relationship wisely.