What are your top 5 favourite brands? Chances are at least 3 of the brands you thought of don't just have a great product, but also offer top-notch customer service.

The business landscape is becoming increasingly competitive. To be intentional about creating a successful business and surviving the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on your business, you must recognise the importance of building customer relationships and making your business stand out by sincerely delivering value to your customers.

Why is building a good relationship with your customers so important? 

It is one way to grow customer loyalty, and derive long term value from them. Loyal customers are preferred over one-time customers because they’ll ultimately become brand advocates for your business – they recommend your services to their friends and family.

Good customer relationships are the key to customer retention. According to HubSpot, a 5% increase in customer retention can equate to an increase in profit of 25%. This is because repeat customers are likely to spend up to 67% more with your brand, which then results in your business having to spend less on operating costs. 

Experts also agree that the pandemic is a defining moment for customer service which is on the brink of universal improvement. 

Here are a few things you can do this period to build and maintain your customer relationships.

1. Simplify processes

That we are required to practice social distancing does not mean your customers suddenly have no need for your services, and chances are that you have adapted and taken your business online. 

Fast. Quick. Instant. Living in the digital age has taught your customers to expect these traits from the businesses they patronize, so simplifying the process involved in transacting with your business is a good way to ensure your customer has the best experience.

A study by the Harvard Business Review discovered that consumers liked to make decisions about brands based on how easy it was for them to understand information about the brand, and how easy the process of choosing to buy the product and actually buying it was.

Brands who made such decisions easier were 86% more likely to be purchased by consumers considering them, 9% more likely to be repurchased, and 115% more likely to be recommended to others.

Your customers are busy people. Let it be that doing business with your company eases some of the stress in their lives.

2. Resolve complaints as quickly as possible 

With the pervasiveness of social media, one Tweet from a dissatisfied customer can do more harm to the reputation of your business than you could imagine. Invest in customer service, and ensure that your team is trained to prioritise settling customer complaints.

Resolving your customers’ complaints as quickly and efficiently as possible is a great way to earn their trust and the beginning of building a good relationship with them. However, if your business becomes known for delayed responses to complaints, your customers are likely to widely share negative experiences about your business, and that’s a reputation you’ll have to do a lot of work to get rid of.

3. Under-promise and over-deliver

Very few things are more frustrating for customers than to wait hours for a product that was supposed to be delivered in 30 minutes. In dealing with your customers, make it a point to avoid making promises you can’t deliver. Unfortunately, not all businesses can operate effectively online. As much as you’ll want to please your customers, ensure that you’re realistic about what they should expect, then do your best to exceed those expectations when you can. Consistently ‘wowing’ your customers by under-promising and over-delivering is a sure way to recruit brand advocates for your business.

4. Use social media

Social media is a great tool for building relationships with your existing customers, grooming brand loyalty, and even attracting new customers. Using social media means that your customer base has an easier means of contacting your company.

However, in navigating the murky waters of social media, remember to use a friendly tone of voice and respond to comments and direct messages as quickly as you can. Let your responses sound personalized, as opposed to making consumers feel like they are holding a conversation with a robot.

Additionally, your business can utilize user-generated content – this could involve you reposting a post your customer had shared that is related to your product or service. 

5. Get feedback from your customers

Everyone wants to know that they matter and that their opinions count. Your customers are no different. Listen to them. What do they complain about the most? What do they like the most about your product and services? Paying attention to these details and improving on them impresses your customers. Let your customers tell you how best to serve them. 

Besides noting consistent complaints, your business could gain feedback by sharing surveys with customers. Additionally, you could walk in the customers’ shoes by going through the buyer’s journey – that’s the process they would encounter in buying a product from you. Doing this will make you see loopholes and things you can fix to give your customers a more wholesome experience.

 

6. Reward customer loyalty

Show existing customers you value them, and they'll become your most loyal customers. You can do this by giving out coupons, discounts, free gifts, or simply sharing an appreciative post on social media. This not only makes your customers happy but has the double-pronged benefit of improving sales and customer retention at the same time.

 

7. Show you care

While your business maintains its professional standard with customers, it should also be personal enough for your clients to want to do business with you over and over again. Giving your customers a reason to have emotional ties to your brand is one of the most effective ways to do this.

Note: Remember names, birthdays, and other personal details about your customers (e.g. occupation). Find inobtrusive ways to include personal touches in your dealings with them.

Bonus tip

Taking care of your employees is possibly the most important tip to building good customer relationships. If you have any employees, you should bear in mind that they are your business’ first set of customers. Having happy employees who are genuinely enthusiastic about your company and its product is priceless. They become brand advocates for your company and engage with customers with the same level of energy that you have engaged with them.

Badly treated employees are very likely to treat customers in the same way.