Want to learn how to take your customer relationships to the next level? Here you go…
When it comes to marketing and customer service, nothing is more important than building relationships with your customers. It’s really that simple. Building those relationships, however, may not always feel like a simple process. The first, most important thing to remember is that building relationships with customers (like any relationship) requires consistent, and long-term effort. You get out of the process what you put into it. The next step is learning what it takes to build relationships with customers and making sure that you’re focusing your effort efficiently on the tasks that matter most.
There are many little things that go into building individual relationships, but there are also some pretty universal truths to keep in mind about the process. In the big picture, you build relationships with customers by learning, participating, and helping. Putting those terms into action will naturally mean something a bit different, depending on your business and the customer you want to make a match with.
Learn (and keep learning)
If you’re building a relationship with another business, then start by learning everything that you can about the customer’s business. But don’t just expect them to tell you every little detail. Take time on your own to research their business, find common ground, and learn what they care about most. Ask questions and listen to what they have to say. Listening is crucial to building any relationship, so it’s an essential skill to develop. People will give you all sorts of clues about what they need and want from your business if you’re willing to open your ears and listen.
Learning about their business also puts you in position to offer the sort of trusted advice that ultimately strengthens relationships. The more you learn about your customer’s business, the better you’re able to serve their needs. Just remember that the learning process should never really end, for as long as the relationship lasts.
“People will give you all sorts of clues about what they need and want from your business – if you’re willing to open your ears and listen.”
But you’ll want to do more than just learn. Participating in your customers’ events is a great way to get some face time and show that you care in the process. It’s important for your customers to connect with the individuals behind your brand and see the human side of your business. You want them to know that you care about them as individuals, and that you’re willing to make time for events that mean a lot to their business.
Building a relationship through learning and participating builds trust, and it’s very much a cumulative process. You can’t really help a business before doing the groundwork and showing that you care. Taking care of the learning and participating part puts you in a better position to truly help their business grow. If you were paying attention when they told you about their business, and listened when they answered your questions, then you should already have some ideas for how you can help them expand their business.
Remember that building quality relationships takes time, and the process never really ends—it cycles. While you can’t expect to find success overnight, you can do the little things required each day to help your relationship with the customer progress and grow. Be accountable, available, and attentive to their needs. Always listen to what they have to say. Go the extra mile to keep learning and participating. Trust me, the helping will grow organically from those efforts, and your relationships will be stronger as a result.
Relationships are like muscle tissue; the more you engage them, the stronger and more valuable they will become.