You are in the business of people and people like doing business with people they trust, respect, and act with consistency. The stronger your relationship is with your customer, the more dedicated and loyal they are to your business. Therefore, it only makes sense that you and your business should be focused on people and building those relationships.
Studies show, time and time again, that dedicated and loyal customers refer family and friends, leading to word-of-mouth marketing. In addition, it is easier to keep a loyal customer than it is to acquire a new customer. A strong word-of-mouth campaign is the best tool in your marketing toolbox. Building relationships with customers is an aspect of culture and must be ingrained in the way every person within the organization works. Starting at the top and role modeled throughout the company, these relationship building techniques will help you forge new relationships and strengthen existing relationships.
Always be genuine, smile, and most importantly, friendly to all you meet. Creating a welcoming and friendly atmosphere draws people in and keeps them present in your organization. Even when you are speaking to a customer on the telephone, they can hear your smile and enthusiasm.
Be a good listener. This means listen more than you talk. You will be better able to assist the customer today and can pick up on those “remarkable” events to remember the next time you interact with the customer.
Be honest, always. Customers will feel slighted if they are given “to the best of my knowledge” or incorrect information. If you do not have the answer, find it instead of creating your own response. Customers today are well informed on products and services and will eventually discover when they have been sold. Don’t sell your customers with marketing puffery, ulterior motives, or hidden agendas - this is not honest and will sever any opportunity of a positive relationship.
Educate and inform. Provide free resources to your customers and prospects by means of information and education. You will establish your organization as an expert and create a platform where you are able to interact regularly with your customers and prospects.
Make customers feel important. This requires planning an action. When conversing with customers, remember those “remarkable” events. Follow up with customers at specific milestones in writing or by phone. Create conversation to seek out common interests and learn more about your customer. Go out of your way to go above and beyond for your customers.
Always do what you say you will do. Lack of follow through disrupts the integrity of the relationship and can quickly create customer distrust. Even if you are not able to provide the response the customer was expecting, be proactive and let them know the status. Keeping customers in the loop shows you care about them and their needs and have not forgotten about them.
Consistency. In all that you do, consistency must be the most present element. This is where many organizations fail. The entire organization must participate and follow through on a consistent basis. Lack of consistency degrades your relationships and shows customers that you have cracks in your foundation.
It is important that all employees are equipped to build customer relationships. Examine your organization’s processes to continually discover way to improve your customer service. Make a plan and wrap the techniques into each employee’s job responsibilities. Create a customer service and relationship building culture. Remember, you are in the business of people and the stronger your relationship is with your customer, the more dedicated and loyal they are to your organization.
April Salsbury, MBA is a strategist, an analyst, an operational guru, a recognized leader and C-suite global healthcare executive with drive and focus for competitive markets. Co-host of The Business Forum Show and regular contributor to various business journals, she possess multi-functional and multi-national competencies with more than 15 years experience in business and healthcare. Her expertise is in invigorating revenue growth and infusing value of lean practices in growing companies through improvements to cash flow and operations management.
Fueling revenue, growth and profit, Salsbury & Co. is a consultancy firm focused on helping businesses and healthcare organizations achieve excellency. Our specialists have executive experience combined with deep functional expertise to provide our clients with services that drive real impact and results.
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