Small businesses know—more than anyone else that the customer is always right. While large corporations have the numbers on their side and can rely on a certain number of sales regardless of customer satisfaction, small businesses must build and maintain a good reputation to stay afloat.
That’s where customer relationships come in.
Ensuring that your customers are happy with your product or service is the best way to ensure they keep coming back. As any marketer knows, customer retention is much cheaper than customer acquisition, so it’s in your best interest to keep your current customers satisfied.
The happier they are, the more likely they are to recommend your business to friends and family, and the more likely they are to continue doing business with you in the future.
Staying on top of customer relationships improves not just your business’s ability to generate new customers while maintaining your old ones—raising your ceiling while solidifying your floor.
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of managing customer relationships and provide a short guide on how to get started.
Why Cultivate Relationships with Customers?
You may think that establishing and maintaining customer relationships is a lot of work for not a lot of payoffs. But the truth is, satisfied customers are one of the foundations of a successful business. If you manage your customer relationships well, you can reap several benefits, including:
Improved customer satisfaction
Think about it from the customer’s perspective: If you feel like a company values your business, you’re more likely to value that company in return. The feeling of being valued is one of the main reasons customers maintain relationships with businesses, so it’s important to make sure your customers always feel like they’re your top priority.
More repeat business
Establishing long-term relationships with your customers is a surefire way to reduce customer churn.
When customers feel like they have a personal stake in your success, they’re much more likely to remain loyal even when a competitor comes along with a slightly better product or price. Having a long history of great customer service will make them more likely to stick with you when things get tough.
Greater customer lifetime value
Because your customers stick around longer and are more likely to buy from you again, they end up being worth more to your business overall. Small increases in customer retention rates lead to outsized increases in profitability; taking care of them isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also great for your bottom line!
Supercharge your marketing efforts
Once you’ve built a relationship with a customer, it becomes easier to sell them additional products or services. Your customers trust you and know that you have their best interests at heart, so they’re more likely to say yes when you offer them something new.
Upselling and cross-selling are important revenue drivers for any business, but they’re especially crucial for small businesses that can’t rely on large numbers of customers to make up for a few lost sales.
Better customer insights
When you take the time to get to know your customers, you gather valuable information. You learn about their needs, wants, and pain points—information you can use to improve your products or services or to create new ones that address unmet needs.
Knowing who your main customers are, for instance, can give you product creation tips, help you target your marketing efforts, and provide useful information for investor pitches.
How to Improve Customer Relationships
All this is very intriguing, you might say, but how do I go about building relationships with my customers? Here are our top four tips for improving customer relationships:
Make it personal
As with all relationships, the key to a great customer relationship is personalization. Your customers should feel like you’re talking to them, not to a faceless mass.
Creating a buyer persona might be useful for this when you’re starting. This is a composite sketch of your ideal customer, based on information like age, gender, location, interests, and income.
Over time, you’ll narrow in on your target market and learn more about your customers, so you can ditch the buyer persona and start catering to individuals.
You wouldn’t leave your best friend hanging for weeks without hearing from you, so don’t do that to your customers either. Keeping in regular contact—through email, social media, or even a simple phone call—shows that you care about them and their business.
It also allows you to ask for feedback and address any concerns they might have before they turn into bigger problems. Make sure your customers always have a way to contact you, and that someone is available to help them when they need it.
Collect and use customer data
Data is one of your most valuable assets when it comes to building customer relationships. By collecting data—whether through surveys, social media interactions, or website analytics—you can gain valuable insights into your customers’ needs and wants.
As you scale up, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can help you keep track of all your customer data in one place, making it easier to segment and target your audience.
Get everyone on board
Focusing on customers doesn’t mean putting everyone else on the back burner. Good customer service starts with good internal communication.
Train your employees on how to best serve customers and create systems and processes that put the customer first. Getting them engaged and invested in the customer experience will help ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal.
Cultivating strong customer relationships is essential for small businesses. Not only does it make it easier to sell to your customers, but it also provides valuable insights that can help you improve your products and services—ensuring that your business is always moving forward.