Sadly, there’s no silver bullet out there with regards to customer retention. Every single company in the world, no matter how large and small, has to keep working at finding new ways to keep customers loyal. When you search on Google, countless sources will cite various complicated techniques for achieving good customer retention, while others argue it’s as simple as just giving the customer what they want. But what exactly do they want?
Well the man who started one of the most famous bars in the world, Giuseppe Cipriani, may just have the answer.
Harry’s bar was opened by Mr Cipriani along the famous canals of Venice in 1931. The establishment has seen it’s fair share of star studded, diamond encrusted clients through the decades, including celebrities and royals from all over the world.
On his customer service and what makes it so special, Giuseppe simply said, “You must treat the kings like people and the people like kings”.
But how can you apply this way of thinking to your non-crown donning customers? I thought I’d break down the answer to that question with 7 ways to build customer relationships. Scroll down to learn a few different ways to think about your customer relationships.
1. Top the Pancake
Imagine that your product is a plate of pancakes which your customer has already purchased. While the stack has been lovingly made by your team behind the scenes, the pancakes are currently plain.
It’s now up to your support staff to make sure the customer enjoys their pancakes as much as possible.
Bear in mind that all customers are different; some will ask for chocolate chips, some strawberries and others maple syrup. The skill is not in giving them everything, but in working out exactly what each customer needs before trying to deliver.
Do they need a friendly voice to reassure them and keep them sweet? A straight-talking expert to provide them advice? Are there other other products they haven’t purchased yet but might be interested in? Be who your customer needs you to be and they’ll soon recognize the effort.
2. “They don’t care how much you know…
until they know how much you care.” – Damon Richards
Although this one might seem obvious, many salespeople make the mistake of focusing too much on themselves and not enough on the customer. “I can do this, I can do that, I can provide you with everything you need.”
It’s important to make your customer feel like the important one in the relationship and not just constantly talk about yourself as though you have all of the power. Positioning yourself as someone who is working for them rather is the best way of going about things, especially in the long run.
The best way to build any kind of rapport is by making the customer your focus. “What can I do for you, what do you want, what are your specific needs?” By asking these questions and finding out what their problems are, you’re showing the customer that you’re genuinely interested in them and not just in their wallet.
3. Don’t be a Stranger
Nothing says I love you like getting in touch. The more comfortable a customer feels with you, the higher the chances of customer loyalty are. Building relationships with customers isn’t just what you say on the phone, but also when you say it.
If you only call when there’s a problem or to hard sell, distrust can begin to set in, which is the last thing you want. Call for general catch ups and to talk about problems/concerns and you’ll soon begin to form a much closer relationship.
And if you’ve got a new product, why not enthusiastically call your customer, say it made you think of them and say you’ll send one over for free for some feedback. This is a great way to show the customer you not only think about them beyond the point of sale, but also value their opinion. It also shows them a new product that they might end up buying from you as a result.
4. “Your most unhappy customers…
…are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates
Learning from your unhappy customers is your greatest insight into what is actually going on in your customer base. Without an open relationship though, they may never provide you with that invaluable insight.
Openness and honestly can make or break a customer relationship, which is why being transparent from the beginning is essential to customer retention and building rapport with customers. Forming a solid level of trust is relatively easy when you’re honest with your customer and your customer is honest with you.
If the answer isn’t what your customer wants to hear, you still need to tell them. They’ll respect you for it and they’ll know that they can come to you with queries in the future. By building customer relationships based on honesty, your customers will be more comfortable expressing any concerns or complaints, no matter how small, so you can get on fixing them.
Another key point is that customers also need a place to vent frustrations and some are too polite to do this over the phone. Either tell them you want you to be completely honest, no holds barred and that you won’t be offended no matter what they say, or set up an online form they can fill in to vent their frustrations about a product or about your service, on which you say the same thing.
5. Know Them Inside Out
Being educated on your customers’ industries or areas of interest shows respect and recognition for what they do. Spending time to not only understand your customer but to really pin down what they need and why they need it, shows a level of care and understanding that will present you as an authority.
There’s nothing worse than being caught out on something you should know.
Stay up-to-date with goings on in the industry through magazines, news channels and social media. This will give you talking points with the customer upon which you can ask their opinion. It also proves to them that you’re knowledgeable and reaffirms to them that you’re the right person to be buying from, not to mention that it adds clout to any suggestion of a new product they should be buying.
It’s also a great idea to, in your CRM system, make a couple of personal notes on the customer. Even knowing something as simple as which football team they support can be a great way to start any conversation. Have a little chat with them on your first call or two and check their Facebook/Twitter feed and note anything interesting about them.
6. Go The Extra Mile
Here is a simple but powerful rule: always give people more than they expect to get. – Nelson Boswell
There will be times in all relationships where sacrifices will have to be made. Whether that sacrifice is time, money or something that you’d rather be doing, all relationships function on giving and taking.
The key, as a salesperson, is to seemingly give more than you receive, without making a loss.
Going the distance today has its perks for tomorrow. Customers often remember efforts made and can return the favour in the future by coming back for more.
Just be careful to limit your extra efforts to exactly when they are required, otherwise you’ll soon run out of offers to make and ways to build trust. If you can’t do the same offer time and time again, make them aware that that’s the case.
7. Remember One Key Phrase
That phrase is this: every customer is your most important customer.
Not matter how big or small the account, how nice or curt they are with you or whether or not that account has loads of potential or isn’t going to grow any more, every customer should be treated like your biggest account.
Enforcing their importance is one of the best ways to build customer relationships, by letting them know that you can provide for them whenever necessary and by making them feel like you wouldn’t do the same for others. Some customers may have to take priority on occasion , but as long as the impression is given that every customer is your number one, customer retention shouldn’t be a problem.
Any customer can give a recommendation, so keep them all as sweet as possible and you may soon be inundated with referrals.
Retaining customers shouldn’t be something that you actively focus on doing, it should be something that you achieve through effective nurturing and relationship building with your customers. Employee retention strategies don’t have to be taxing.