8 Steps for Building Customer Bonds

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It’s Army vs. Navy this weekend. It’s an annual football game between the United States Military Academy and the United States Naval Academy. A national championship is not on the line; but pride and inter-service bragging rights are always at stake. Over thirty years ago as a Midshipman I pledged my loyalty to the Navy blue and gold. Then my son came along and decided to join the Army. He’s a veteran now who served in the 3rd Infantry Division and spent quite a bit of time in Iraq, and I couldn’t be more proud of his service. Loyalty created through an emotional service bond is powerful. How does your organization build loyalty and create emotional bonds?

Eight Steps to Blue & Gold Loyalty

· Brand: You need to start with a strong brand identity that your customers can identify with. Your brand must not only communicate a message, but also inform, motivate and deliver as promised. The better your brand is at keeping its promises, the better your brand is at being trusted.

· Learning Relationships: Organizations that implement learning relationships are better able to understand and anticipate a customer’s unique needs. Learning organizations understand that great customer experiences start with listening to the customer to learn instead of talking to the customer to sell. Customers in a learning relationship experience a heightened sense of vendor awareness and are more likely to be loyal because their vendor understands their needs.

· Use technology: To connect in positive and collaborative ways. Customer connections that engender loyalty deliver a seamless experience across channels and touch points while demonstrating integrity and interest.

· Ensure and Empower: Ensure high quality customer interactions that demonstrate a caring attitude by empowering your employees to resolve problems. You can’t build loyalty if you don’t truly care about your customers.

· Great Service: Almost every customer has a service support need at some point. Use support incidents as an opportunity to solidify relationships. Providing excellent service and quick resolution can build customer trust.

· One view of the company: Despite the desires of corporate managers, the customer ultimately controls the relationship. If the customer is in control, don’t they need a 360 degree view of the company? Great customer experiences start when you make it easy for the customer to do business with you.

· Layers: Customers have layers, and relationship layers are built on trust and dialog over time. Customer loyalty requires the care and commitment to take the time, invest the money, and have the patience to grow the relationship.

· Dynamic real-time processes: Building relationships takes time; however, instant gratification has been a feature of our everyday lives for a long time. Give your customers their rewards now, and keep your promises on time.

3 COMMENTS

  1. In my line of work, I interact daily with clients in the healthcare and commercial markets. Our clients have found that the best way to build customer loyalty and create emotional bonds is through Engagement Communications. This concept creates a dialogue with customers that not only makes a connection, but inspires them to take action.

    Engagement Communications applies high technology communications, such as e-mail, voice mail, text messaging and social media, in a way that creates a personal, human touch. The focus is not customer “contact”; it is engagement. Contact is one-directional while engagement is a two-way street. Creating these ongoing two-way dialogues not only fulfills the promise of building better customer relationships, but also creates a constant feedback loop that gives companies deeper insights into their customers’ motivations and needs.

    For example, many of our clients are family practice physicians. They have implemented TeleVox’s automated messaging system to contact patients with appointment reminders, as well as helpful suggestions of ways patients can monitor and improve their health between office visits. The messages are delivered with patient-specific content in a natural voice that gives the patients a warm, personal feel of a live call. It’s high technology with a human touch, creating an engaging experience that moves the customer to take action and creates loyalty.

    More specifically, patients with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure could receive a reminder to renew their prescriptions. Or, a patient struggling to quit smoking could be encouraged to enroll in a smoking cessation program or purchase nicotine patches and gum.

    Likewise, some of our utility clients use Engagement Communications to ask its customers questions about the types of information they want to receive. If a segment of customers are highly concerned with energy conservation, the utility engages them with energy conservation tips. During the hot summer months, customers receive email, text or phone messages reminding them to conserve energy by cooking during later hours or closing blinds during the day. Because these messages are sent how and when the customers want to receive them, this approach is meaningful and effective, and creates a deeper emotional bond with their customers.

    This level of engagement will improve the overall customer experience, which ultimately builds customer loyalty.

    Thank you for the post.

    Scott Zimmerman, President of http://www.televox.com

  2. When you over-deliver with your customer service, you set your business apart from all your competitors. Your customers will notice that you are going the extra mile to genuinely please them, which is something they probably can’t find anywhere else.

  3. Great article! Couldn’t agree more.
    I Would like to add: appreciation. If you feel appreciated you are bonding.
    Send gifts that say; ‘thank you for your business, we appreciate you.’ That doesn’t need to cost much, it’s the thought that counts. Try and send (besides the holidays) two or three gifts/ mailings without a sales agenda and celebrate moments like first assignment or the one year anniversary of a client.

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