In a recent post, I shared “9 Obstacles For Building Long-Term Customer Relationships” from a recent presentation I made to a group of MBA students. As a follow up, I want to now outline some critical strategies for building these long-term relationships with your customers.
- Focus On Reliability- Your product or service must be reliable. In many cases what you are selling promises to make your customer’s life simpler, easier and more enjoyable. Consistent service builds trust with your customers and trust is foundational to great relationships.
- Continuously Improve The Customer Experience- Through innovation and simply listening to your customers there is always something that can be done to improve ways customers experience your product. Constantly improving and innovating features of your service give your customers the sense that the value of the service they are receiving is increasing. Setting up a feedback loop such as a survey and taking action based on the feedback you receive is critical.
- Proactive Customer Service- I dream of a world where companies call me about my problem before I call them. Build it into your system to detect reasons a customer may contact you and reach out to them first.
- Appreciate Your Customers- Look for reasons often to tell customers you appreciate them. Just like in personal relationships, customers want to know that they are important. I love the concept from Zappos about making “Personal Emotional Connections” with customers.
- Create A Service Mantra For Your Company- Shep Hyken suggests having a mantra that everyone in your organization repeats often. It should be a rallying cry for your organization. Ours just happens to be the word “Awesome” and we define that as being consistently above average.
- Offer Multiple Support Channels And Be Responsive- I think some critics of social media will say customers only use social media when other support channels don’t work. Companies should be as responsive as possible on all support channels to give customers the convenience of having options to choose from. I like that a lot better than constant damage control.
- Develop Your Employees- Customers appreciate service from well-trained and friendly customer service staff. Take the time consistently to develop your customer service team and you will see a direct chain reaction that affects your customers.
- Measure The Right Things- I am still learning about and defining our key performance indicators but I think measuring Net Promoter Score is a terrific way to gauge customer loyalty. If your relationship with your customers is strong, they will be loyal to you and recommend your service to others.
These are just some of the ways we are working to build long term relationships with our customers. Are there any you would add to my list?