Nurturing Relationships with Happy Customers
Your customers are the lifeblood of your business, without them you cannot succeed. Having a regular customer base allows for some security with your income, but it is a mistake to think that just because they are loyal, that they will always be. Taking your regulars for granted will foster resentment and lessen the strength of your brand; these people still have a great deal of choice when they decide where to spend their money, and although they are thinking of you first – you should still be appealing to them, and showing that you appreciate their continued custom.
Transitory customers may spend more on their visit, but Regulars have a much higher ‘value’ to your business due to the fact that they are spending annually rather than just once. It is important that this fact is recognised and these people appealed to, as well as those individual purchasers.
With the marketplace becoming ever more saturated, customer choice means that many services that were once ‘optional’ are now being offered as standard, so providing an amazing Customer Experience (CX) must now be an essential part of your business plan as a way to stand out from the crowd.
So what are the best ways to keep your customers happy and coming back to you again and again?
Here are 11 Top Tips for nurturing your relationship with happy customers
1. Learn About the Customer
Knowing who your customers are, and what they expect from your product is vital. Researching your market and understanding who is spending their money with you, will allow you to tailor your product to suit their needs and appeal on a basic level of interest – this gives you a strong foundation to build from.
Knowing about your individual customers will also aid in personalizing their experience and showing them that you care about their individual needs.
2. Genuinely Interact, and Do it Often
To maintain a consistent presence in the consciousness of the consumer, you need to be seen, but it shouldn’t stop there. Customers don’t want to feel that they are dealing with a company that doesn’t listen to them, or has no ‘human’ face. It is important that you engage with your customers and let them know that you are listening to their concerns, and are pleased when they are.
A lot of Social platforms allow you to purchase their measure of popularity – be it likes, shares or reviews. It may be tempting to use these methods to boost your apparent popularity to attract others, but it is not recommended. It doesn’t take long for people to realize that you have purchased these things, and the general public take a negative stance on company’s undermining their ability to gauge the worth of a company or product.
Being genuine and sincere will resonate with your audience and create deeper connections than any purchased statistic ever will.
3. Entertain and Inform with Your Content
Once you’ve got people looking at your site or social channels, you want to be able to keep their attention and turn them from interested parties into paying customers. To do this, you need content that will appeal, is informative and interesting. Be it videos, images, blog posts or other content – you need to be producing and sharing content that your audience will appreciate, enjoy – and share with their friends.
Having great content will not only please your current audience, but it will engage new visitors and potentially attract others as well.
Monitor and React – Listen and Respond
Using data analytics and tools such as Social Listening will allow your Marketing Team the opportunity to establish what is currently on trend, what changes are happening in the market, and where the mood and sentiment of your audience is currently located.
It will also allow them to detect problem areas and respond quickly – if an unhappy Influencer is leaving negative reviews on their blog, and people are paying attention; this could prove to be very damaging. But if your Marketing Team detects this at the earliest possibility, and engages with the unhappy customer – discovers the root of their discontent and makes an effort to resolve the issue – the situation may stop before it can become a Social Media Crisis, and the Influencer become a Brand Champion after having their personalized needs addressed.
Grow and Build a Community
No business operates in isolation. Be it consumers or suppliers, every business is reliant on another to function. Make use of these connections.
With suppliers, use Social platforms such as LinkedIn to engage with them, and show that you appreciate what they do. It could lead to better connections and the ability to source new or reduced priced products.
Engaging with Influencers works in the same manner – let your consumer see that you are a vibrant and active business, and that you are trusted by the Influencers who have their respect.
84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products and services – making these recommendations the highest ranked source for trustworthiness.
Cultivate Brand Champions
Happy customers are more likely to tell their friends and connections about your business – if they’ve had a great experience, they may use review sites or feedback functions to inform others. Brand Champions are customers who actively promote your business for you – they will use their own Social channels and connections to spread word of their experiences. This doesn’t cost your business, but can generate a large number of leads.
“We take most of the money that we could have spent on paid advertising and instead put it back into the customer experience. Then we let the customers be our marketing.”
– Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO
By having customers relating their positive experiences, Brand Trust is generated or grown and your business is pushed towards the front of the consumer consciousness.
Respect Your Customers and their Opinions
Not every customer will be easy to please, or indeed satisfied with their experience. It is vital that you take the time to learn from it all – good and bad.
You don’t necessarily have to agree with their assessment of your product, but you do need to respect it. Negative responses to comments, or a condescending attitude will do more to damage your business than an unhappy customer alone.
Listen to what your customers are saying – it can give you clear ideas on where your business plan can be tailored further. You may consider promoting areas that people are enjoying and looking into areas where they are not.
Your customer will generally provide you with unbiased feedback, that you can use to examine how well your venue, products and services are performing.
You may be satisfied with your product and business as it is now, but if you stand still – your business will stagnate and your product will be forgotten.
The market moves at such a speed, that new technologies and innovations are constantly changing customer expectations and motivations. If you don’t have a good idea of what is coming, and what trends are evolving, you will get left behind.
Monitoring your market will let you see how your customer needs are evolving, what trends have picked up, what is just a temporary fad – and where you should be positioning your company for the maximum impact and return.
Build Trust and Communication
Trust is at the root of everything – if your suppliers don’t trust you, then you won’t get the best prices, if your potential customers don’t trust you, then they’ll go elsewhere.
You must build trust in your product, in your brand, and your company as a whole. This is a process that never stops, and is extremely fragile – if you are inattentive to a situation, your brand image can be seriously damaged or destroyed; and even if you spend time and money to build it up again – that black mark will still remain on your reputation, and your brand will struggle to be as strong as it was before.
Communication is key.
If you are going to make changes to your company, let your audience know – change can be a good thing, but unexpected change can startle and annoy your audience. By engaging with them and communicating clearly your business intentions, they will feel that they have been involved in the process and be more likely to stay loyal.
Be Honest and Transparent
No one likes dishonesty or someone that hides important facts from them.
If something goes wrong, own up to it. In a digital world – news spreads extremely fast, and if a situation happens, and it’s reported by a third party, it can damage consumer confidence and jeopardize your customer base. If you’ve been open and honest, then your customers will realize this and it can make a huge difference.
A customer who is loyal to a brand, is up to 5 times more likely to forgive a mistake than a new guest.
Letting people know where your company stands on ethical, moral or social issues is also a form of transparency, and could encourage others who share those values to become customers and potential Brand Champions.
Be Humble and Thankful
It’s essential to have confidence in your product, but how you deliver that message to your audience is important. If your business ‘voice’ is arrogant or condescending, you will drive your potential customers away, and alienate your company from those that form its repeat customer base.
Showing your appreciation will go a long way with your guests. If you make them feel that they matter, and they are valued – they will remember that experience, and be more likely to not only return, but to recommend you to others as well.
Balancing your company message between being confident but not pushy, assertive but not arrogant, and friendly but not unprofessional is an important part of your customer interaction strategy.
How you market yourself and your business, how you engage with your customers and their needs, and how you monitor and manage your company directions are all parts that lead to an improved customer experience. Whether you undertake this yourself, or hire a professional – the end result must be customer experience-centric to get in front and build the strength and success of your brand.