Do you know how to create a lasting client relationship from a one-off sale? Let’s take a closer look at why that’s important and how you can become the kind of company that builds ongoing loyalty by prioritizing customer satisfaction.
Good customer experience helps form quality relationships that go well beyond a single sale. In fact, 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience. If you want to gain new long-term clients and improve customer retention, you must start with excellent customer service.
When you have the power to make your customer happy, they will choose you repeatedly. In today’s consumer-driven market, it’s not product and price that matters most anymore; it’s about caring for your customers in a way that they value.
Here is how to form a long-lasting relationship with your customers and why it’s so crucial in this current climate. Use this advice to attract and retain amazing clients for your company!
Why Is Customer Engagement So Important?
To be a competitive small business these days, you have to develop the ability to engage with your customers in a way that authentically builds a client relationship—using trust, support, and mutual respect as a foundation for growth.
COVID-19 has sped up the adoption of digital shopping and delivery services, catapulting us several years into the future. With this new preference for online shopping, customer engagement has similarly increased in importance. As a small business owner, it pays to know that customer relationship management is a key driver of growth. Engagement is how you start, nurture, and grow these lucrative relationships that keep your business going.
- When you engage, you learn more about your customer.
- You discover how to provide them with outstanding customer service.
- An open, honest dialogue connects you and helps you see opportunities.
- Your customer becomes loyal and will choose to buy from you over other companies.
- You develop practices that impress customers and lead to an increase in sales.
Customer engagement is the first step to many successful results for your company. Do it right, and your clients will become advocates bringing other customers to your business. They will feel compelled to support you through any changes and any economic situation. They will care.
The more engaged your customers are, the more reliable your income streams will be. Here are some powerful ways to engage your customers. Use these to create the kind of experiences that will help you form long-term, rewarding relationships with your ideal clients!
#1: Know Your Ideal Customer
Roy H. Williams, a well-known business writer, once said, “The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.”
To know your customer, you have to do more than speak to them on the phone or in person. The fastest-growing startups use behavioral data to fill in the blanks. Using your website and point-of-sale system, you can automatically create customer profiles that track what your customer does, buys, and wants from your business.
- Create accurate customer profiles from your data sources.
- Use customer demographics to target new clients.
- Understand the kind of content that speaks to your buyers.
- Personalize your content and marketing incentives.
- Understand and respond to trends.
- Track which of your customers are satisfied and which are not.
A new customer buys a product from you for the first time. They give you their email address, and, based on their purchase, you send them tailor-made promotions over the next couple of weeks.
During that time, the customer engages on social media, buys more products from you, and joins your loyalty program. All of this happens because you have an accessible customer profile to improve your marketing conversion rates.
This is an example of using technology to improve a single customer relationship—but you can also use data collected to improve overall sales. You can fuel customer acquisition by using the data broadly and target individuals to convert them into repeat buyers. The trick is to understand, analyze, and engage with their needs, preferences, and wants over time.
The better you know your customers, the more likely it is to exceed their expectations on every level—with your products, services, and support.
#2: Nurture an Exceptional Customer Service Culture
Author, speaker, and businesswoman Betsy Sanders says, “Service, in short, is not what you do, but who you are. It’s a way of living that you need to bring to everything you do if you’re to bring it to your customer interactions.”
A client relationship blooms or fades according to your level of customer service. It’s more than being professional and goes beyond the efficient management of complaints and queries. True customer engagement happens when you thread exceptional customer service throughout your company.
- Excellent service inspires trust and accountability for employees and clients.
- It convinces customers of your credibility and good reputation.
- Exceptional service gives your company a unique competitive advantage.
- When you show people you care, they care in return.
- It justifies higher prices.
In short, when you create a culture of genuine service—your business will naturally attract new customers and retain the ones you have already found. Here are a few ways you can make customer service a big part of your business culture.
- Create constant feedback mechanisms and listen to your clients.
- Respond to all queries and calls as fast as possible.
- Provide knowledgeable and resourceful solutions to customer problems.
- Always be friendly with a positive attitude.
- Make your service personal, and your customer feel valued.
The bottom line is that satisfied customers will refer other people to your company. If you create a fun, positive experience—it makes a lasting impression that people want to share.
Some 77% of customers share positive experiences with friends, family, and other people. Make customer service a part of who you are as a company, and it will deliver powerful returns!
#3: Continually Develop Stronger Customer Communications
Famous author George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
There is nothing easier than believing your customer relationships are sound, when, in fact, they may need considerable improvement! You must build more robust methods of communication with your clients so that engagement happens more often on a variety of platforms.
If you limit how you communicate with your customers, you will lose a lot of valuable two-way conversation and feedback. To guarantee customer satisfaction, make sure that you are on the right platforms and use the right tools. Once again, technology is on your side.
- Harness chatbot technology for real-time communication.
- Post regularly on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
- Make sure that your business website has clear messaging on it.
- Treat every single customer as an individual human being.
- Listen to your customers.
- Communicate with gratitude and empathy.
To have good communication, you must be available to your customers and act on their feedback. Suppose you get a negative response, work until it’s a positive one. See every wrong turn as an opportunity to create stronger methods of engagement!
#4: Leverage Simple Loyalty Programs
Ex-CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, once said, “If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.”
A simple loyalty program can do incredible things for customer engagement and retention. Some 84% of customers are more likely to shop with companies that have a loyalty program. Plus, it costs about five times more to convert a new customer than an existing one.
- Create a simple online loyalty program for your business.
- Surprise your customers with special offers, gifts, and discounts.
- Link your program to a cause in need (sustainable business).
- Have an exclusive, private Facebook page for loyalty members.
Get more ideas here.
Strong loyalty programs save you time, money, and increase your bottom line. Small business owners should focus on the retained customer process and less on sourcing new customers.
#5: Make Your In-Store Experience Memorable
Content marketing pro Ann Handley says, “Make the customer the hero of your story.”
Amazing in-store customer experiences are worth a thousand emails. If you can surprise and delight your customers with a unique experience that gives them a great story —they will love you for it. Spend some time improving your real-world experiences and make them memorable!
- A bookstore that wraps books and offers them at a discount for “mystery reads”
- A luxury boutique that offers a glass of bubbly to every customer with a cart
- A restaurant that offers a free live performance when a family orders a dish for the table
Bundle products or services to suit the specific needs of your customers or create an in-store social media experience that leaves people smiling. Whatever you choose, make sure that your idea creates goodwill for your business and good memories for your customers.
When you create these experiences in-store, it makes your customer the hero of the story. There is no better way to engage in real life and keep people coming back for more.
Forming long-lasting customer relationships is a critical part of owning a small business in the COVID-19 era. Customers can shop anywhere and with anyone. You need to give them a set of solid reasons why they should stick with your company through thick and thin.
A great place to start is with the way you structure and present your company. The addition of a point-of-sale system that can track customer behavior can make a significant difference in a short space of time. Don’t be afraid to lean on technology and make it work for you!
Once you have your tracking, monitoring, and analysis system in place, you will understand your customer better. From there, build a culture of customer service and keep developing the platforms and methods that help you communicate with clients. Start a simple loyalty program online and develop an amazing in-store experience that your customers will never forget.
With these steps, a small business can take a single client relationship and make it last a lifetime!