Today, building a meaningful client base is more important than ever. But how do you actually maintain customer relationships? Recent studies have emphasised the strong correlation between customer satisfaction and retention, as well as the impact that acquisition and retention can have on a company’s finances.
When it comes to costs, acquiring new customers is five times more expensive than keeping existing ones, and the recent arrival of GDPR has made acquisition even tougher. Since the regulations came into force back in 2018, individuals have been required to actively give consent before receiving any marketing communications, meaning that businesses now need to work much harder to attract and retain customers.
Whichever way you look at it, building and maintaining lasting customer relations can be a tricky business. With that in mind, we’ve compiled some useful tips to help you grow and retain your hard-earned customers.
9 tips to build and maintain customer relationships
#1. Communicate regularly
Good customer relations rely on regular, meaningful communication. Start by developing a suite of communications that can be sent to provide your customers with frequent inspiration. The content of the communications will vary depending on your company type and size but can include regular newsletters, top tips to get the most out of your product or service, promotions, new products, contract expiry reminders and survey requests. Providing a preference centre will allow customers to control which communications they receive and how often.
#2. Make it personal
Effective personalisation goes beyond simply addressing recipients by their first name. It involves making the most of details you know about a customer to be able to communicate in a relevant, personalised and timely manner, such as product recommendations, order notifications. Having a thorough understanding of your customer will help you to achieve this level of personalisation.
#3. Develop and implement a CRM strategy
A CRM strategy tailored to individual customer segments will help to ensure you are communicating effectively with your customers and their individual needs, rather than having one-size fits all CRM plans. Implementation of a continuous test and learn plan will ensure you continually optimise the performance of your campaigns.
#4. Provide outstanding customer service
In a nutshell, this involves delivering your product or service in a well-executed manner, meeting customer expectations, and going above and beyond where possible. Consistency is key too. Your customer should receive the same positive experience in a shop, online or call centre, easy, clear and hassle-free. Good customer relations are built on respect and honesty, and ultimately, should offer a pleasurable, straightforward experience from start to finish.
#5. Recognise and reward
Recognise and reward your customers by making them feel valued. Provide customers with memorable experiences that give a positive perception of your company - a gesture that can be anything from a simple thank you, to a full-blown loyalty reward scheme. The aim is for the customer to feel they have received something of value, that has been tailored to them and no one else.
#6. Capture feedback
Measurement of customer satisfaction and loyalty will help you to improve and compare yourselves to competitors. It can also be used to incentivise your staff to keep providing high-quality customer service. Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a common method of measuring loyalty and a health check of the overall relationship. Surveying customers at key touchpoints in their journey will also provide valuable insight into key drivers of satisfaction, or conversely dissatisfaction, with your products and services. Customers are more likely to be responsive and happy to provide feedback if they know it will help you improve.
#7. Manage complaints effectively
See complaints as being good for business! They give you a great opportunity to turn a negative experience into a chance to delight your disappointed customer. The complaint may also highlight an area of dissatisfaction for other customers, allowing you the chance to rectify the wider problem.
#8. Reduce customer attrition
Put proactive measures in place to identify and manage customers at risk of leaving your business. Use of propensity models will help to identify changes in behaviour that suggest a customer has a high propensity to leave. By having a clear understanding of the lifetime value of each of your customers will help you to focus your efforts on retaining profitable customers.
#9. Win them back
Re-engage with customers who do choose to leave. Remind them why they should purchase from you and offer incentives to come back.
The key to lasting customer relations is to provide a consistent, outstanding customer experience. Get the basics right, and then enhance the relationship with those added extras that surprise and delight your customers. Respect your customers and be prepared to accept responsibility and apologise when things don’t go as smoothly as you’d hoped. In return, your customers will become loyal and continue to reward you with their business as well as being great advocates, recommending you to others.