In this age of consumerism and abundance of choices for every product, the customer is king. Keeping a customer happy, and having him return with repeat orders, is a necessity for businesses to be sustained. It is here that building relationships with customers come in, since this will help in keeping them involved with the business. This is likely to require an investment of time and effort from the entrepreneur, who will have to extend himself and reach out to his present and potential customers.
Analysis of data collected from various businesses reveals that repeat customers spend over 33% more than first time ones, and more likely to provide referrals than new ones. This is the rationale behind building relationships with customers, which may prove to help in the survival of the business in the highly competitive environment.
Building relationships with customers is easy for extroverts who love meeting people, though introvert entrepreneurs may have to make a conscious effort. Customers are real people with feelings and emotions which can be tapped to establish a bond. Customers are not nameless faces in the crowd or a faceless voice on the phone, but for a business, each customer is a distinct individual who matters.
How to build relationships
- Common courtesy, personalized treatment- Customers being crucial to the survival of a business, deserve the best possible behavior. Being courteous and respectful with sincerity, helps in having them warm up to you, and professional attitudes help you win their respect. This is the first step to thawing the ice.
- Sincere advice and sharing of knowledge- Customers really appreciate sincere advice, and if as a businessman, you are able to display your knowledge and expertise in your field, they are bound to warm up to you. However, staying professional in approach and demeanor is essential.
- Knowing their environment and needs- An entrepreneur needs to understand where his customer comes from, since this helps him understand his perspectives and preferences. Customers also feel special when you know more about them, and this is one more step to converting them into permanent clients.
- Never lose track of a customer – A customer must not disappear into oblivion, rather he must be tracked. A bad experience they may have had, must be remedied, rather then letting them walk away in disgust.
- Join social networks- social media networks are a great way to stay in touch with customers and building relationships. The network is a great way to stay in touch with the latest developments in customers’ lives, and commenting or ‘liking’ their posts will show your interest, which will help the relationship.
- Special offers for an exclusive group of customers- Customers feel rewarded when an exclusive offer is made to them, or only to a select group of permanent ones. This helps in further cementing the relationship.
- Responding fast to queries- A customer’s query, immediately answered builds goodwill and chances of his returning for a purchase increase.
Building customer relationships is the only way to sustain businesses large and small, and is worth every bit of investment of time and effort.