There are two words that come to mind when we consider what needs to happen when we build and improve customer relations: Customisation and Personalisation.
Both these terms emphasise what our mindset needs to be when we consider enhancing any relationship with clients and customers alike.
Customers tell us that they don’t wish to be sold to. By exerting pressure to make decisions on a buyer, we risk alienating them and making it much more difficult to build any form of relationship with them.
By customising and personalising the discussions we have with customers, we can get closer to their business and find out exactly what they need to be successful in their own industry; hence, creating a personalised offering to them is key to building relationships.
Here are our five key steps to improving customer relationships:
1) Think of your discussions as building a partnership with them, rather than selling them your products or services
Any relationship, be it personal or business, requires you to have an attitude of collaboration. In order to enhance the relationship with your customer, consider what a partner to their business would consider.
You wouldn’t be putting pressure on them to make a decision when the time wasn’t right for them; instead, you would build close ties with the buyer to help them determine the best timing for decision-making.
This requires getting to know their industry, their market and their customer base as strongly as you know your own. By partnering with the customer, you open up a different perspective for your business, as you spend time digging deeper into what their business requirements are from you. This takes the emphasis off what your product does and turns it into a discussion about what benefits they will get from using you.
2)Put the emphasis on their business, not yours
Not everybody will be initially interested in your products, and the sooner you realise that, the easier it will be to sell.
Your products are merely the conduit to a different future for your customers’ businesses. You are, in effect, creating a different future for their business when they use your products and services.
If you talk about your products, the buyer has to do the hard work of determining what they will do for their business; if your discuss their business and what the requirements are for them to be more successful, you enhance the chances of them considering you for the solutions to their challenges.
So, putting the emphasis on their business makes you more valuable to the buyer, while enhancing and improving the customer relationship.
3) Build relationships at various strategic levels of their business
More often than not, your main contact with the business will be the key decision-maker and buyer.
This can cause danger over the long-term, because if this person moves on or a competitor sees an opportunity, this one contact could easily be swayed to move from your solution and go elsewhere.
Instead, start creating contacts at different levels within their business. Get your accounts department to establish links with their finance people; if you produce products for the customer, link up your production manager with their quality control department; have your shipping department build closer ties with their goods inward people. You get the picture.
Those various strategic levels with the customer’s business will be a goldmine of information for your company, while enhancing the close relationships you have across the board. Plus, it will build your value as a strategic partner within their business, especially if your key decision-maker decides to move on.
4) Determine various ways to maintain contact with their business
No relationship can survive without proper communication. If you are to build close relationships with the customer, you need to use various forms of communication to maintain and enhance the partnership.
If you just use the standard phone and email contact, you’ll definitely keep in touch, but it won’t create any reasons for their business to establish closer links with you.
Think about various ways you could maintain the levels of contact without causing a nuisance of yourself.
Remember that every contact should enhance your value to the buyer and every touchpoint should see you building that closer relationship.
Do you know the answer to one of their challenges or dilemmas they are facing at present? Write an article that answers it and send it to the company stakeholders
Have you come across a specific situation your customer is facing when you have been dealing with another client? Write a blog, place it on your LinkedIn page and send a link or copy to your customer.
Have you got solutions that you can share with a wider audience as well as your current client base? Create a webinar that answers specific questions or download a YouTube video that will add value to your products and services.
There are many ways to be creative when you are thinking about your contact levels with customers. You just have to decide what would be best for the specific customer you are building those relationships with.
5) Keep in regular contact regarding how well you are doing with the customer
Feedback is the breakfast of champions, so start looking at ways you can get quality feedback from your clients and enhancing the relationship as you do so.
You need feedback on how they are using your products and services, what the end-users’ views are if that’s applicable, what results they are achieving while using your services, any enhancements they are seeking from you and what more you can do to build the value of your services.
By customising and personalising this feedback, you get closer ties with various levels of their organisation and highlight the many reasons why you are the right choice for their business.
These five steps can bring you closer to your current customers and give you more reasons to check out further prospects as you build client relationships and find specific ways to farm for more business within your current customer base.