You often hear the phrase “relationship marketing” bandied about, but what exactly does that mean?
Relationship marketing is the process of building a strong bond between your business and the customers your business attracts. On the surface, this sounds easy to do, but this type of marketing is open to broad interpretation, which means you may be doing too little to woo your customers into becoming loyal fans. There are certain things your customers want to learn about you and your company, and once you reveal the heart and soul behind your operations, your marketing efforts will start to grow by leaps and bounds.
Here’s what they want they can learn from you:
You don’t think of them as just another number.
Customers understand that you’re in business to make sales, but they hate being taken for granted. Your customers are more than just a means to drive money into your bank account. They are human beings who want to know that you truly value them as such, and that you genuinely care about what happens to them. Consider the words you use when communicating directly with customers. Are your messages laden with heavy sales pitches? Keep in mind that warm and friendly communication makes you more likeable in their eyes.
You’re confident your product is the best it can be.
There’s no room for ambiguity when it comes to the quality of the products you sell. Trust is a big factor in sales, and if you come across as wishy washy, customers are less likely to take a chance. Always exhibit strong confidence in your product offerings by letting customers know you stand behind them 100 percent.
You want their input.
It’s no secret that customers are pretty opinionated about the products they buy and use. Just about every type of product under the sun gets evaluated for its pros and cons. Some customers enjoy sharing their opinions with product creators, and they expect you to be open to receiving their opinions. Instead of brushing off, or ignoring their feedback, it’s better for business when you make a point of asking for customer feedback. Create a form that they can fill out and submit with the click of a button. You can even go one step further and send a personal note to those who offer opinions, experiences and suggestions.
You’re willing to innovate to make your product even better.
Regardless of how good you feel about your products, there’s always room for improvement. This is where customer feedback is invaluable. You can use this feedback as the blueprint for upgrading existing products. Admittedly, some of this feedback is going to be negative, and while that stings, negative opinions reveal exactly what customers think should be improved. So, don’t toss those out in order to protect your feelings – use all input to your advantage.
Innovation is tapping into the well of creativity and brainstorming how to add more value to your products. Research the competition to see what new things they’re doing. Take notes and put your own twists on new concepts. Once you embrace innovation, you’ll have fun coming up with better methods of doing things.
You value honesty.
Think about how you feel when you know someone is lying to you, or at the very least, playing fast and loose with the truth. The slightest hint of dishonesty is a big turn off, so make sure your customers know that you’re always being 100 percent honest with them in all aspects of your business dealings. This is especially important when things go wrong. Everyone messes up occasionally, but lying about it makes it ten times worse. Also, don’t try to cover up your mistakes with lame excuses.
Likewise, if something important is happening that is going to affect your customers – give them an honest heads up. They’ll appreciate your honesty and reward you by sticking by your side.
You’re willing to get personal.
Personalization is not just a buzzword. Customers love it when you add personal touches to your interactions. Being personal can mean using a customer’s first name when sending them email messages. You can offer extra perks that make them feel special. It means going out of your way to be thoughtful and attentive to customer needs and desires.
Another approach to personalization is to share a few details about unique things that are happening behind the scenes. Share brief stories about special events, community service projects and the little things that make you chuckle. These are all things that make you and your business more likable, and people buy from people they like.
You care about making their lives better.
You take pride in knowing that your products help your customers achieve something positive. Consider the ways in which your products have an impact on the lives of others. Take a look at some of your favorite commercials. The best commercials don’t sell products, they sell things like convenience, friendship, affordable family meals, fun entertainment and peace of mind. Figure out what your product does for people and use it in your marketing material.
You’re a good listener.
Listening is one of the most valuable communication skills you can have, but many businesses do a terrible job of listening to customers. To ensure that you’re not among the bad listeners. Develop a habit of always taking time to listen carefully to what your customers have to say. Even when a customer is clearly in the wrong, or angry about some perceived wrongdoing, letting them know you’re listening to their concerns makes them feel validated.
You tell it like it is.
Customers want to know exactly what your product does, and how to use it. They don’t want to waste time wading through a bunch of fluff and filler on your sales pages. Get to the point quickly, and use easy-to-understand language to show them features and benefits. If they’re interested, they’ll buy. If not, all the fancy words in the world won’t convince them to change their minds.
Buying from you is smooth and easy.
Make the purchasing process simple and fast. Offer them an easy way to earn discounts and rewards. If you offer add-ons, make sure they can see them without having to search. Shopping cart abandonment is legendary, and to avoid this, you should make doubly sure that customers are able to make frustration-free purchases.
Customer service is a top priority.
A common complaint shared by customers everywhere is the lack of customer service. These days it seems normal for companies to offer as little assistance as possible. Some companies do offer help, but that help is so limited, customers get angry and frustrated over the lousy way they get treated. You can score huge brownie points with customers by offering top quality customer service. When customers are treated well, they spread the word to all of their friends.
You know what they like.
Instead of assuming you know what’s best for customers, you’ve taken the time to study customer buying habits, find out what they like and don’t like, plan, create and deliver exactly the kind of products they want. Customers appreciate products that are highly useful and fit in with their lifestyle. They buy from you because you do a great job of catering to their needs.
You keep them informed about upcoming products.
Viable companies always have one of more new products in the development pipeline. You can create anticipation early by sharing a few tidbits about products you’re working on. Of course, you don’t want to go into too much detail, because new products can change quite a bit before they’re released, but sharing whatever you can makes them feel like they’re part of your inner circle. This is the kind of thing you reserve for loyal customers on your buyer email list.
Community is important to you.
Relationship marketing is all about building a strong sense of community – brick by brick. This is something that’s going to take time, but it’s well worth the effort. Social media and email newsletters are proven ways to form strong bonds with customers. Holding special events, either on site, or online is another. Creating a blog, posting regularly to it and enabling comments attracts people who like engaging in public conversation.
You have the freedom to create whatever type of community you desire. Once you start it, put in the time to communicate regularly with customers and other people who drop by to see what all the fuss is about. If you’re too busy to keep tabs on things, you can outsource this task to someone else.
You love surprising them.
Every so often, spring a little surprise on your customers, just because you feel like it. As your customers get to know you better, they’ll realize that they can expect the unexpected, which tickles them to no end. Imagine the kind of happy reactions you’ll get when you give away a free item, or a discount out of the blue. This type of behavior lets your customers know that you truly appreciate their patronage. In return, your company receives glowing reviews, and enjoys healthy profits from repeat sales.
What do you think? Are you willing to invest and do what it takes to forge an unforgettable relationship with your customers? If you need help taking your customer experience to the next level, contact us today!