Customers are an important factor in the success of your business. Many businesses know this, so already offer more than just good products or services. By building great customer relationships, they create a loyal band of followers.
Present-day customers want to feel involved in what you sell, how you sell it, and what happens after the sale. So it’s important to manage your customer relationships. Having conversations with purpose will help.
Engaging your customers in meaningful conversations will create a mutually beneficial relationship. And this will deliver a customer experience which goes far beyond transactional purchases.
Customers are human beings. And that usually means they prefer talking to other human beings.
We’ve all heard stories of people trying to speak to someone on a help desk and getting blocked at every turn. The website never has a telephone number or email address. The automated systems take them down the wrong route. And the cry comes back “I JUST WANT TO SPEAK TO A REAL PERSON!”
Human connection increases our wellbeing. Thinking about the experiences your customers have will mean you can build that connection right from the start.
Having good relationships with your customers will:
The process begins at the initial introduction stage. And it continues right until the customer no longer wants to have a relationship with you.
Having two-way conversations is an easy way to learn more about your customer. Actively listening to their answers, really listening, will tell you what they want. It will also help them feel heard and understood.
You can still be professional while building a bond with your customers. The more you get to know each other, the more you’ll understand how to work best together. And it will make communication easier. Remember their name and personal information such as the name of their partner or child.
Having clear processes and costings will show you’re honest and trustworthy. Being upfront about pricing or policies is also important and give plenty of notice when changing. Social media, videos, and customer tours are a great way to show how your business operates.
No one size fits all and your customers will have different requirements. It could be language barriers, accessibility requirements, or something else. Tailoring your responses and being adaptable is a great relationship builder. Some customers may want a video call, others may prefer a phone call, an in-person visit, or online chat. And remember that one may need more interaction than another.
Be clear about how and when customers can speak with you. A fast response is great. But if that’s not viable, being upfront about when they can expect a response is fine. It’s especially important for solo business owners who don’t have a team behind them. For service businesses, the onboarding process is a perfect place to set clear boundaries.
A good customer relationship will help you understand expectations or needs. It will also mean you can empathise when problems arise so you can work on a contingency together. Showing your understanding and empathy will help your customer feel heard.
Interacting with customers can be both reactive and proactive. A reactive situation includes responding to emails, product enquires, and complaints.
Proactive relationships are all about building a long-term connection. This could include email newsletters and asking for product ideas or feedback.
Try the following steps to enhance your customer relationships:
Use both open and closed questions when you’re having a conversation.
Closed questions mean limited answers (often yes or no). They can kill conversations but are also useful. For example, if you want to find out how big a company is, or the timescale for buying.
Open questions are conversation starters. They may take you off script but, through active listening, they can help you build rapport. They show your customer that you’re interested in what they have to say and will give you more information.
…are your thoughts?
…concerns (if any) do you have?
…are you interested in buying from us?
…did you get in touch with us today?
…are you looking to buy?
…was the last time you looked into something like this?
…soon are you looking to get started?
…should we move forward?
…do you expect your business to be in 5 years?
…did you go on holiday this year?
…else should we involve in this conversation?
…are you comparing us against?
Many businesses have a CRM (customer relationship management) system. It may be a simple Excel spreadsheet, or a fancier piece of software. But it’s where you hold customer names and contact details.
Including anecdotal information may seem over the top, so why bother?
The answer is so you can personalise your messages. By knowing more about the person, you can build a much more in-depth relationship.
Here are a few ideas about what to record:
Knowing this kind of information will mean new conversations can begin with a follow up of your last. Your customer will feel that you’re interested in them, their company, and their life. And it will generate rapport and trust between you.
With multiple customers, you can’t hope to store everything in your head. Especially if your last interaction with them was months ago. It makes the recording of transactional and anecdotal information even more important.
The other reason for recording this data is that it removes the reliance on a single person. In other words, anyone in the team can answer a call. By checking on the system, they can easily maintain a positive relationship with the customer.
When you start having conversations with purpose, you’ll generate valuable data. So it’s important to record both verbal and written interactions.
Billal Jamil is the speaker and head coach at The Public Speaking Academy. He helps people to deliver talks with no notes, to speak with clarity, without any fear, and with great impact. The training he offers deals with a top 5 human fear.
When the organisation first started, they held introductory presentations. Participants found them fun, interactive, and informative. They received great feedback, but people still left without buying.
It was only when they spoke directly with people on the phone that they realised the magic of personalised conversations. By focusing on client needs, they understood how to articulate the way they could help. And this meant the client could clearly see how the programme would benefit them.
“It was those conversations that drove the design of our sales seminars and sales process. It gave us a template to successfully invite thousands of people on to their speaking journeys, aided by our courses and programmes.”
If you’re interested in learning more, watch this space for further information. We’re currently chatting with Billal about partnering together.
Building good relationships with your customers can give your business a real boost.
When you have conversations with purpose, you’ll generate lots of valuable information. Recalling that your customer’s child recently started school is as important as knowing their buying habits.
Recording both transactional anecdotal data will help you remember the important details. It makes good business sense to do it. But it’s also a nice way to do business.
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