5 Ways to Nurture Customer Relationships

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – no customers, no business! Customers involve relationships and relationships require work if they are to be developed and sustained.

Just like your relationship with your significant other, family, or best friends, the more you put into it, the more you get in return. Learn how to better nurture your customer relationships with these five tips.

1. Send a thank you message
If you want someone to know you appreciate them, do as your mother says and say thank you! This simple, old school gesture can go a long way in building relationships with your customers. You can express thanks in an email, in a personalized note when shipping purchases, or as a greeting card. By taking the time to express your gratitude, you demonstrate in a tangible way that you respect the person and their choice to do business with you.

2. Ask for feedback
Asking for feedback serves two very important purposes. First, it conveys to customers that you care about what they think. Second, it provides valuable insight into what customers actually want and how you can better provide it. When you respond to what your customers are asking for, they feel validated for their input. As a result, they may also be more vested in doing business with you. In short, well-implemented feedback systems lead to win/win outcomes.

3. Stay in touch
It is typically more cost-effective to retain customers than to acquire new ones. One of the best ways to achieve this is to stay in touch. There are multiple techniques available in this regard including designing great email marketing campaigns and initiating customer loyalty programs where the more (and longer) customers stay with you, the more benefits they received. Email campaigns provide a platform for introducing promotional programs, birthday discounts, announcing new product/service offerings, and inviting customers to special events. With email, the key is to make the message speak to the the individual and not to a generic audience, which segues nicely into our next tip.

4. Be personal
Have you ever noticed that you pay attention more and remember a conversation better when someone uses your name? Using a person’s name (correctly) in communication exchanges shows respect and makes the exchange more personal. It also facilitates more meaningful exchanges. In business applications, this includes how you address email messages, direct mail pieces and customer service calls. The more genuine and personal you are in your exchanges, the more genuine and personal the customer relationship will be.

5. Be social on- and off-line
Whether large or small, people like to do business with organizations that they can relate to. For example, Starbucks portrays a socially conscious brand. Apple’s brand is about people who think differently. Whatever you stand for, using on- and off-line channels to convey your beliefs as well as what you offer will help you to attract customers who think like you do. As humans we are wired to want to belong. To deepen the association that customers make between what you do and who you are, you may choose to sponsor or directly participate in community events as well as maintain rich social media exchanges.

In summary, one of the best ways to think about your customers is as an extension of your friends and family. The more you treat them with respect and honor who they are, the richer and longer-term the relationship is likely to be.

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