2 ways to build strong customer relationships


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“Customer satisfaction is achieved when a customer becomes convinced through your performance that the value he enjoys from your goods and services exceeds all other options, and that his business with you is important to you and is appreciated.” – Henry M. Rowan, President, Inductotherm Industries, Inc.

One of the things that I like about this quote is how neatly it packages the good solid definition of customer satisfaction into two basic areas that are at the core of the customer experience.

The customer must become convinced that the value he enjoys from your goods and services exceeds all other options. This is the holy grail of any business: when a customer recognizes that your business provides the best combination of price and functionality out of all the other competition is out there. Not only does this result in sales, but by maintaining this outlook, the customer is more likely to be involved with repeat sales as well.

How does this happen? Note that I left out a key phrase in the quote above: “through your performance.” Your performance in the initial delivery of the product or service sets a standard in the mind of the customer. Your ongoing performance after the sale continues to reinforce what they believed about you when they purchased initially. This is where you have the greatest opportunity to create value for your customer. And when they recognize that value, they will continue to purchase from you and they’ll refer others to you as well.

The customer must know that his business with you is important to you, and is appreciated. While you may genuinely feel this way about your customers, a key factor of this principle is ensuring that the customer understands how valuable they are to you. But in what ways do you demonstrate your customers that they are valuable to you?

Rewards. Perhaps you offer some sort of rewards program. This is something that should be sincere and offered only to those customers who truly spend the most time and money with your business. Where these programs break down is when everyone is afforded some sort of membership, or level of discount. This can have the effect of diluting the effectiveness of the program and actually becoming a negative rather than positive aspect to doing business with you.

Bogo. If your business model allows, perhaps you can offer a “buy one get one free” program, or “buy one get one half off.” While not necessarily solution for higher-end products like cars or homes ( although I did hear of a local car dealer offering buy-one-get-one free), these types of offerings tend to go over quite well from the customer perspective.

Extras. Even better than a “bogo” program is simply offering something extra and unexpected to customers after they make a purchase with you. This could be as simple as a pad of paper and a pen, or a free cup of coffee. The point is, they should feel as if doing business with you involves a personal level of attention and additional value at no extra cost to them.

Tell them. The simplest way to let your customers know you appreciate them is simply to tell them. Many companies send out holiday cards or offer discounts that are mailed out to repeat customers. While these can come across as generic and mass-organized, a very simple method is a brief and sincere handwritten note. Is this time-consuming? Yes. Does it have a significant impact on your customers? Yes. This is the type of thing that can separate you from your competitors, and make an impression that lasts in your customers’ minds.

In the long run, however, you want to spend the most time doing the things that provide the most value for you in building relationships with your customers by providing the basics of good value and sincere customer appreciation. How you choose to do that will be unique to your industry and to the “personality” of your company.

Just for fun…

“She said she was approaching forty, and I couldn’t help wondering from what direction.” – Bob Hope

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve Martorano
Steve has been on the front lines with customers for over 25 years. He is currently Director of Customer Services for Polygon Northwest, a real estate developer in both the Seattle and Portland markets. Steve is also the creator of ThinkCustomerSatisfaction.com, an online resource designed to provide insights and training to customer professionals across many industries.


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