These days, customers expect a lot from businesses. Simply offering a great product or service at a competitive price isn’t enough. You need to go beyond that to really stand out from your competitors and bag yourself a loyal customer.
Great customer service is a start, but you need to make your clients feel like you are on the same team. You need to take them from being a mere customer and transform them into a “partner” of your business. By creating a partnership with your customers, they will become your best advocates.
The Importance of Building Partnerships
We live in a very competitive marketplace, which is why customers expect so much from a business. They want quality products, at competitive prices, delivered with an excellent customer experience. They don’t see it as offering added value -- they see it as the norm. If you really want to impress your customers and turn them into partners, you’re going to have to do a lot better than that.
Why is loyalty so important? According to global management consulting firm, Bain and Co., repeat customers spend 67% more than new customers. This is due to both larger transactions and more frequent shopping. Even a 5% increase in retention can lead to a rise in profits of as much as 25-100%. You need to ensure that you continuously offer value to your customers to keep them coming back for more.
Take the example of forex traders: if they want to succeed, they can’t just focus on the short-term results. They need to constantly work on developing and perfecting their trading strategy in order to achieve long-term success. It should be the same with your customers. Don’t focus on your current sales -- put in place a long-term strategy that will help develop strong relationships with your clients and keep working to perfect it. As you can see, it will pay off in the long run.
Offer Added Value
By adding real value and creating true partnerships with your customers, you can get them to not only buy your product or service, but also keep them coming back for more (and tell all their co-workers/friends about you). They can end up becoming some of your best salespeople – you just need to make it worth it.
It’s all about being able to offer your customers something they can’t get anywhere else. You need to reward them in exchange for their time, business, and loyalty. It could be offering helpful insights, a coupon, news, notice of a special event, or some advice. Remember, if you don’t do it, your competitors will. Putting in that extra effort will make all the difference.
Communicate With Your Customers
Communication is key. It must be open and on-going if you are going to succeed in building a strong relationship. Regular interaction will not only help to build trust with your customer, but will also help you to keep them satisfied at all times.
Standards of service should be continuously improving, and you should always be focused on meeting the needs of your customers. While your products or services are important, you don’t want to undermine the experience of another part of the customer journey.
According to RightNow, 89% of customers switched to a competitor following a poor customer experience. Be sure to provide clear and honest information about your products and services and be available to speak to your customers using every channel. Whether customers prefer to phone you, contact you via your website, or use social media, you should always be available to respond quickly and efficiently.
Provide Genuine Interactions
When you do communicate with your customers, treat them right! If someone is dissatisfied with the service they have received, the last thing they want is to speak to a faceless business that doesn’t show genuine concern for their problem. Genuinely talk to your customers, as you would in person.
After all, the last thing you want is for customers to go on to tell their co-workers about the terrible service they have received. This type of word-of-mouth can destroy your company’s reputation in the long term, making it very difficult to turn things back around. Keep your patience, even if the customer is making things difficult.
Value Their Feedback
If you want your customers to feel like a valued partner, then you need to take them seriously. Take any valuable feedback on board to help prevent similar issues from occurring down the line. Act upon reasonable requests – don’t just ignore what they have to say. In fact, you should actively encourage feedback. This will show your customers that you genuinely value them as a partner.
Their feedback will help you to see where changes should be made within your organization. Take note and follow through with these changes. Your customers are the lifeblood of your business, and you don’t want to overlook any reasonable requests. If you’re looking for ways to gather additional feedback, consider focus groups, surveys, emails, customer service, point of sale, and social media.
Honesty Is A Must
Communication is hugely important for forging a successful relationship, and so is honesty. Partnerships thrive when built on a foundation of honesty and trust. In order to build that trust you need to be open with customers and alert them to large-scale changes, whether good or bad. If you are making changes to your products or services that will affect your customers, then let them know.
Trust between a business and its customers is sensitive. In fact, they say it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one negative one. No matter how big your business is, it’s always important to be upfront and honest with your customers. They’re used to your products and services as they are, so the last thing you want to do is make a change without giving them a heads up.
About the Author
Maya is a business woman, talker & blogger. She spends most of her time running her own business, looking after one baby and writing for different business blogs where she's a regular contributor.More Content by Maya Weber