Building Customer Relationships for Long-Term Success
Customer relationships, as defined by the Small Business Encyclopedia, is the ways in which your company communicates and deals with existing customers.
Building customer relationships is of utmost importance. Businesses know that their competition will gladly service their customers if they fail to do so correctly.
Customer attraction is rarely an issue because medium and large companies are well-equipped with sales and marketing strategies that attract new clients and customers. The enticing offers that these companies send in the mail or even in email can be quite enticing. From banks offering appliances or Gift Cards to communication providers offering Gift Cards with significant dollar value, it can become challenging for individuals and businesses to resist these incentives and remain loyal to their current bank or communication provider.
While micro- and small businesses may not have the budget to offer huge incentives, they still have the ability to attract customers through smaller offerings.
Not Building Customer Relationships Is a Mistake
Michael Denisoff, Business Consultant, of Denisoff Consulting, noted that all successful small businesses–regardless of what they do or sell–have one thing in common: their owners know how to build and maintain relationships. He continued, “Without strong relationships, it is impossible to have success as a business owner.”
Like any other relationship, building strong customer relationships, as well as relationships with vendors and suppliers, all of whom have a stake in your business, take time and work. However, once all of these stakeholders recognize that you’re serious about cultivating the relationship and are willing to enhance the value you bring to them, you’ll find that you’ve built a community that will be loyal to you.
Think about it: If you had a friend and the only time you contacted him or her was when you were in distress and needed their help, how long do you believe that friendship would hold up? Eventually your friend would begin to see you as a ‘user’ who only contacts her when you need something.
The same is true for your business.
Important Questions To Ask
In building customer relationships here are some important questions to ask yourself:
- Have I set up a database of my customers with as much information as possible?
- Do I have a system in place so that I contact my customers on a regular basis?
- Is my system flexible so that I can add notes from conversations I, or any member of my team, have with customers for effective follow-up where necessary?
- Do I ask for feedback from my customers so that they feel that they have an active part in the growth and success of my company?
- Do I carefully listen to the feedback objectively and seek to implement where necessary?
It’s important to remember that as business owners, we’re often so close to our business regardless of the size and scope, that others can often see what we cannot.
In addition, customers must feel that they are important to your business. By seeking their feedback, listening, and implementing where necessary, you’ll be building and cementing the relationship with your customers.
What steps have you taken to build or continue building customer relationships with your customers and suppliers?