Everyone knows that customers are the lifeblood of a company, which is why so many companies spend a lot of time and energy trying to maintain relationships with them.
But the thing is, a relationship with a customer is just that — a relationship, which means that the exact thing that works for one customer isn’t going to work for all of them. That being said, there are some general things to focus on to keep your customer relationships good, including:
Create clear expectations from the very beginning
One of the main things that causes customer relationship issues is unclear expectations, either on the part of the customers or on your part. So although it takes some time and attention to detail at first, make sure that everyone involved in the relationship knows how it’s going to play out.
This includes making it very clear what the customer will get from your product or service, what they won’t get, when they need to pay you, what happens if they don’t, how quickly you need feedback, your refund policy, etc. That way everybody’s one the same page, and if something does go wrong, you have a clear conversation, and ideally a contract to direct the customer to.
Check in regularly
Just like with personal relationships, there’s no way that you can build a relationship off of occasional contact — your customers need to hear from you regularly so they can get a sense of your business’s personality and start to develop trust with it.
By check in, we don’t mean remind them that they can buy stuff from you. You should be sending out much more nurture content (that is, stuff that benefits your customers and doesn’t directly involve a sale) than marketing content. So think of ways that you can get onto your customers’ radars, whether that’s through blogging, social media interactions, live events, calls, or even letters. (More tips on checking in with customers here).
Give your customers a stake in the relationship
Your customers aren’t going to keep up a relationship with you or your business for no reason. You need to be able to give them a stake in the relationship, a reason to get engaged with it.
There are all kinds of ways that you can do this, including giving them lots of valuable nurture content, letting them participate in surveys and prize draws, giving them regular activity reports of what the company’s up to (and why that matters to them), or even giving them some say over what kinds of projects or features you focus on.
Ideally, you’ll have a mix of these, since customers will want to get involved with the company to different degrees. The key is to figure out which of your customers to focus on — those that are going to spend the most money or have the most influence on your target market — and then focus the bulk of your time and energy on getting them engaged first.
Keep it human
This is the most important thing to remember when it comes to maintaining customer relationships: keep things human. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to maintain a relationship using a generic template or algorithm; people can always tell.
The good thing is that since people have come to expect this more general, mediocre form of customer relationship management, when you actually come through with some genuine human interaction, it really stands out.
How about you? What are your best tips for maintaining customer relationships? Or, give a shout out to some companies that have done a great job of maintaining a relationship with you in the comments below!