Customer Relations: What Is the Road to Loyal Customers?
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⏱ Reading Time: 9 minutes
The golden rule says “treat people the way you would like to be treated” In the business sphere, one might wonder if this too is applicable to customers. For a moment, let’s say it is! If you treat your customers nicely, just like you would like to be treated, they’ll stay and become your loyal, returning customers. It sounds simple, but unfortunately, it’s not! Treating your customers nicely just like you would want to be treated is no longer enough.
Today’s customers have different choices; therefore their expectations might not be the same as what you would want if you were a customer. Therefore, if you want to increase your customer retention rate, your golden rule of customer service should be; treat customers the way they would like to be treated.
In this article, we shall take time to look deep into customer relations and discover its connection with customer service as well as how you can use it to boost customer satisfaction and earn customer loyalty in your business.
What are Customer Relations?
Customer Relations comprises of all the customer engagement processes utilized to improve customer experience. It is the total process used by any business or company to proactively build a positive relationship with their clients or customers.
In a nutshell, customer relations is all about the process of building genuine connections and strong bond with your customers to make sure they’re completely satisfied, hence earning their loyalty.
If the richest man in the world of business, Jeff Bezos (Amazon founder and CEO) could put his company goal to be “earth’s most customer-centric company” then you have no reason not to do the same if you want your business to grow. Customer relations might not sound as exciting as making sales or developing products, however, it is the bedrock of success in any business.
Picture 1. Jeff Bezos quote
Customer relations go beyond customer service. It includes solving short-term challenges for your customers as well as creating long-term solutions with the aim of achieving customer success. While the short term challenges here include issues and customer complaints reported, creating long-term solutions to achieve customer success means to be proactive with your customers. It involves making all the necessary information about your product and services as well as updates about them known to your customers, promoting discounts as well as exclusive offers. Programs like this create a lasting impression on the mind of customers who eventually become loyal to your brand or business.
The whole point of customer relations is to create a bonding with a mutually beneficial relationship between you and your customers that will extend beyond the initial purchase.
Customer Relations Vs Customer Service
You’re not alone if you think that customer relations and customer service are the same, most people think so too. However, they are not. They are similar concepts but completely different in practice. We’ve explained earlier what customer relations are all about; however, customer service is a fraction of custom relations.
Customer service can be said to be reactive and inbound because it involves the services you provide to ensure customer success. It’s more reactive because it involves the process of delivering to the customer what has been purchased. Customer service deals with fixing things that have already gone wrong, responding to queries and customer complaints over the phone, email, etc. Although some companies provide customer services that might seem proactive, those functions are still delivered as a response to customer action.
Picture 2. Proactive vs reactive customer service
On the other hand, customer relations and customer relations management go beyond simple reactions. Customer Relations are consists of both the inbound and outbound, focusing on being proactive with customers. Customer relationship management involves your ability to react to present issues as a company and also take measures or approaches to create better experiences for the customer in the future. It involves all the actions and functions taken care of by customer service but also includes the efforts made before and after interactions with the customer.
Although responding to customer complaints and issues is a good way to build excellent customer service, however, searching for solutions and strategies that will solve future issues or challenges the customer might face is an excellent way to build positive customer relations.
The Power of Customer Relations and its Benefits
The importance of customer relations and customer relationship management cannot be overemphasized. Now that you know what it’s all about, let’s get to know why you must prioritize it.
The power of word of mouth
Good customer relations will definitely bring more customers to you without increasing your customer acquisition budget. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust recommendations made by their friends or family over other forms of advertising. Before, word of mouth used to be limited to only 1 to 10 customers, but now, there’s the internet.
With the power of the internet, one happy customer can bring in about 5,000 new customers through online customer reviews or social media. Since the news in the modern world travels fast, developing good customer relations can create huge advantage just by the testimony of a single customer. Likewise, bad customer relations can destroy your business with a single negative review from a customer.
Let’s borrow the experience of United Airlines where their customer relations didn’t go as planned. With a single viral video of officers forcefully dragging a doctor from a Louisville bound flight, their market value dropped by $1.4 billion. For this reason, you need to train your employees and everyone working with you on the importance of customer relations to make sure your business doesn’t face the consequences of bad relations with your customers.
The importance of retaining your customers is huge. If you have positive customer relations that drive customer satisfaction even from their first interaction or experience with your company, there’s a high chance that customers will come back for more. This too can drive huge growth for your business.
Repeat customers are more trusting than new customers, overall they bring more value to the company. That is why the first impression of a brand is important. If a first impression was correct and customer expectations were met, there is a high chance that a customer will return.
According to research, repeat customers tend to spend about 67% more than new customers. By increasing your customer retention rate, you tend to spend less on acquiring new customers which is costlier than retaining one.
Studies show that about 61% will stop buying from a company the moment they go through a poor customer experience whereas 60% will do more business with the company if customer service is handled fairly irrespective of whether it turns out to their favor or not. The point here is; customers know when you’re genuine with your customer relations and can overlook your errors if you show dedication to customer satisfaction.
With a high customer retention rate, you can build your customer lifetime value. If you’re unsure of what customer lifetime value is all about, it is a business metric that reveals how much profit you’ll make from a customer over the entire length of his business relationship with you. So the logic is simple, the more you retain your customers, the higher their value and more profits for your business.
Building a history of positive customer relations makes it almost impossible for you to lose your customers to competitors. Customer loyalty is highly important for any brand since repeat customers are most likely to buy your products nine times more than new leads that are yet to convert even if those products are still new.
A positive customer relation drives loyalty since customers will always find reasons or incentives to stay put with your brand. Although it might cost you more to build positive customer relations, the benefits can be enough to generate consistent revenue for your business over time.
Most times, it is difficult to tell if your customers are really satisfied with your business. The bad news is, about 91% of unhappy customers will simply leave and never come back without complaints. Building strong and positive customer relations is the key to stopping these unsatisfied customers from leaving without warning.
When you have a good system to relate properly with your customers, you will able to go deeper into discovering your customers’ problems since it opens a channel of communication for customer feedback. This leads to improved customer interaction with each of your customers’ thereby building trust and influencing their decisions to buy.
Picture 3. Good relations leads to even better feedback
How to Build Customer Loyalty with Positive Customer Relations
Having this said, it is important to reiterate that building positive customer relations is a major key to business success as you’ll have lots of loyal customers over time. However, since positive customer relations is the road to loyal customers, the question is how do you build it. So enough of the benefits, let’s look at how you can build positive customer relations to create loyal customers.
Train your employees and make them important
If you want your customers to get amazing customer experience, every interaction with them must be done right. Your employees from the reception to the customer service, marketing, sales all need to be highly skilled in what they do. They must be motivated to solve customers’ problems. So you have to invest in them, train them to know your company goals, values and let them in on what you want to achieve with your customers.
Picture 4. Send employees on training programs
Take care of your employees first
According to Richard Branson, clients do not come first, employees do. In cases when a company has employees trained with all the above-stated information, you stand a better chance to nurture good and positive company culture. A positive attitude towards job also reflects in the employee attitude towards the customers. When employees love what they do and are offered guidance and support, they’ll go the extra mile to get excellent customer experience for your customers. So put your employees first
One of the things customers complain against a company is not being able to get an agent to attend to their problems when they needed them most. Today many companies have invested in chatbots and online self-service help systems. However, that does not take away the need for customers to have a live agent speak or chat with them for a solution to their problems.
Your team still needs to be there whenever your customer has problems. Those other technologically advanced systems may help ease a customer’s stress but they can never take away the need for a live agent since a memorable customer experience can only be created by a live representative. So, human interaction is key to building positive customer relations, don’t take it away.
Create customer loyalty programs
One of the ways to foster customer loyalty and customer retention is to reward customers for their patronage. Successful loyalty reward programs can boost your business by providing motivation for your customers to stick with you and buy more. Doing this is always less expensive than trying to acquire new customers.
Moreover, when customers get rewards, they don’t just stay put. They are becoming loyal to your brand and are more likely to become brand ambassadors and brand advocates.
Fast customer service solutions
If you’re one of those companies or businesses that take time to get your complaints or queries from your customers solved, then you might just be killing your business. One of the ways to create customer loyalty is through speedy solutions to their problems. When they get to make little effort and have their problems solved immediately, their trust in your business increases and they’ll come back for more thereby becoming your loyal customer. Learn how to deal with your customer complaints as fast as possible and earn boosts to your customer loyalty.
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Positive customer relations is the road map to loyal customers. Customer relations might look unimportant when compared to sales, marketing, product development, etc. However, businesses will find it very difficult to grow if it is neglected. It might seem overwhelming but if you get the core principles right, every other thing will fall into place.
- Take care of your employees so they can do the same for your customers
- Care genuinely about your customers’ opinions and welfare.
- Work towards exceeding their expectations all the time by providing additional value.
- Go beyond normal customer interaction, connect and bond with them.
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