3 Ways to Build Customer Relationships
What if your customers disappeared tomorrow?
Would you wish that you had nurtured those relationships instead of taking them for granted? If you’re like most of us, you didn’t open your business and have hundreds of customers knocking down your doors. You worked hard for your first customer and likely continue to work hard for each and every new customer. Building a lasting relationship with your customers is much like working out. While it would be great if we could go the the gym once and be fit for life, sadly that is not the reality. If we want to be in great shape, we need to work at it everyday. You need to lift weights, take a spin class or two and make healthy choices in the kitchen. The same goes for building customer relationships. You might be the most energetic, magnetic, memorable person on the planet, but you still need to establish, build and nurture those relationships. It’s time to do some heavy lifting and marathon training where your customers are concerned. Here are three ways to build a relationship with your customers.
#1: Thank Them
I am big on the value of a thank you card. As a business owner, it doesn’t matter if a person is a one-time or a long-term client. Sending a thank you and letting each customer know they are appreciated might turn them into long-term clients. And they will be more likely to recommend your business to family and friends if they have had a positive experience. A thank you is like icing on a cupcake. You would likely have enjoyed the cupcake all by itself, but with the icing it’s that much sweeter. Just this week I received a hand-written note from a person I have only met once. We are connected via a private Facebook group. A note from her was completely unexpected and greatly appreciated. Receiving this note furthers our relationship and makes me feel more connected. People like to feel appreciated. It doesn’t take much effort, but can have measurable, lasting results.
#2: Express Genuine Appreciation
Do you ever receive mailers offering “new customers” a special price or savings? When I receive those, I wonder why new customers are more important than loyal, existing customers. Do you know what it costs to acquire a new customer? If you’ve ever looked into it, you’ll know that is a lot cheaper and easier to keep existing customers. According to an article on Entrepreneur.com, written by Lon Safko,
One miscalculation that many business owners make involves the ease with which they will attract customers. This is called field of dreams marketing. Small-business owners are generally experts in some other areas and somehow they believe that if the core message of their marketing is, “Hey! We are selling XYZ, and we’re now open!” people will start pouring through the door.
When I was researching data for this post, I found many articles all with widely varying statistics about how much it costs to acquire a new customer versus keeping an existing customer. Some sources say it costs 4 – 10 times to acquire a new customer as it does to retain current customers. Other sources say it’s as high as 30 times more! If that doesn’t make you appreciate your current customers, I don’t know what will. They are valuable – make sure they know it!
#3: Connect With Them, As People
This can be as simple as an email. We have all heard the old adage, out of sight out of mind. It’s never a good thing to be “out of mind” of your customers. Do you ever send a message to an existing customer just to say hello? I’m sure you send your usual funnel of emails and offers to purchase your latest products or services. But, do you ever really just send them an email that is completely for them? It could be a free download, a webinar series or other piece of information that would benefit your customers, without benefit to you.
For those of you that work from home, this next one can be tough, but trust me – it’s essential. Networking. Yes, I said it. You need to get out and network. While I’d hope your customers would be happy to receive your emails, I bet they would still prefer to see you in person. Have you ever been friends with someone on social media and then you get the chance to meet in real life? I have and it was amazing, on many levels. Here are a few stories.
In 2013, I decided to attend a Mari Smith event. I had been following and learning from her for years. The event she was promoting was for an intimate group of people (I think it was 20) to spend two days with her to learn about Facebook and online marketing. As an add-on, I chose to spend a third day with her and only 5 other people. For years I knew all about the online Mari, but I had never interacted with her face-to-face. She is genuine and caring online, but meeting her in person and spending real time with her allowed me to get to know more about her. It allowed us to connect on a personal level that had nothing to do with Facebook. We found that we had more than just social media in common.
Have you ever heard of Lisa Larter? She is another woman I had the privilege of meeting in person. I noticed her Facebook group one day in my sidebar. I don’t know if it was an ad or if I had friends that were in the group. Something compelled me to click. I joined one of her private Facebook groups and began interacting with her and the group. I learned a lot from her and months later found out that she lives not too far from me. We arranged to meet in person just a few months ago. She was delightful. I really appreciate strong women that tell it like it is. That’s how I describe Lisa. She is incredibly smart, giving, thoughtful and savvy. Again, meeting her in person, allowed me to see if the online Lisa was at all like the real person. I couldn’t have been happier that they are one in the same. Her personality really comes across on Facebook Live, her posts and in her book. But if you ever have the opportunity to attend one of her events – hurry up and register! If you aren’t already following her, start here.
You can also connect with people you know online that sell products. I connected with Vickie MacFadden who owns PromoRX, a company that sells upscale promotional items. We have only spoken on the phone once, but we refer work to each other, knowing that we both have the same quality standard and work ethic. We continually build our relationship by referrals, emails and providing feedback for each other.
These three women know exactly how to build and nurture relationships. Just this week I received a wonderful, hand-written note from Lisa. Small gestures like that are meaningful and will make your customers see how important they are. I have probably read the note she sent to me, somewhere in the neighborhood of five times. It makes me smile every time. And, a few months ago Vickie sent me a water bottle that her company sells. Each time I use it, I think of her and it makes me smile.
These two meetings with Mari and Lisa would not have happened if I sat home and decided not to network. Nor would they have happened if they didn’t value relationships. Sometimes, you need to get out of your comfort zone and push yourself. I would not have built relationships with these two women from my home office.
Do you have other ideas for building customer relationships? How do you thank your existing customer? Have you received a thank you that reminded you that the business appreciated and valued you?