How to Build Strong Relationships with Customers
July 6, 2023

How to Build Strong Relationships with Customers

Creating a strong bond with customers is critical for sustained business growth and profitability in today’s world…

 We all know this, but there are so many tools, resources, and influencer voices today telling us how to do it "best," we often get lost in the noise.

Building long-term relationships with customers is like being a friend. A good friend shows up when you need them. They tell you the truth (when you want to hear it). They make you feel individual, special and unique in some way-  and connect with you in such a way that you can tell that they care about you.

Building strong relationships with customers is pretty much the same as building a good friendship would- and like a friendship, building strong customer relationships requires time and effort to get it right, but the rewards are well worth it - and that's what we're going to talk about in this article.

Before we get into "the how," let's talk about what makes a strong customer relationship.

What Makes a Strong Customer Relationship?

In order to build strong customer relationships, it is important to understand the specific needs of your customer. 

To accomplish this, eCommerce brands (especially marketing and product teams) need to take the time to listen actively to any questions, or concerns of customers. When companies listen to the customer they build deep connections, making their customers feel heard, which builds mutual trust.

As marketers, we often make the mistake of talking "at" customers. This makes them feel like they're just a transaction or a metric, and not someone we truly care about. 

Understanding and addressing customer needs, however, makes them feel understood and appreciated - and this feeling goes a long way towards building strong customer relationships.

Creating a great customer experience is also key to building strong customer relationships. A great customer experience should be tailored to your individual customers' needs - from the first time they interact with you to every step along their customer journey. This requires taking into account not only the customer's current needs but also their past purchases and expectations.

Someone told me that "trust is like a mirror, once it's cracked, it's hard to see the same reflection again." Keeping this in mind, think of relationships with customers as fragile glass mirrors. You must be willing to invest time and effort to achieve long-term, loyal customers who make repeat purchases.

It's also important to remember that, "acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing one." from an article in HBR called, "The Value of Keeping the Right Customers." This statistic highlights the value of investing in and creating long-term business relationships with customers and the impact that they can have on your brand.

One of the tools that can help you achieve these strong customer relationships is Humankind's conversational commerce software. Humankind's platform allows eCommerce brands to have personalized conversations with their customers in real time. By focusing on 1:1 human connection, Humankind is able to help brands provide customers with an unparalleled shopping experience.

What are the 3 Keys To Building Strong Customer Relationships?

Building trust with customers isn't hard. We've talked about the "what" and the "why" in the previous sections- now let's talk about the "how."

If you have a short attention span like I do, here's a quick summary:

  1. Provide Consistent and High-Quality Service.
  2. Communicate Transparently and Frequently.
  3. Honor your Commitments.

Sounds a lot like a friendship!

First and foremost, it's important that your customers know what to expect from you. You can do this by providing good service that is the same every time, talking to them openly and honestly, and keeping your promises. By doing these things, customers will feel more confident about you. This will help them feel more connected with you and know what to expect when they're reaching out for help.

Providing Consistent and Quality Service:

To offer Consistent and Quality Service, businesses should first establish a clear set of performance guidelines for all employees to follow uniformly. Ensure that there is meticulous training provided to each employee, so they understand how each guideline complies with company values and the customer experience we're providing them. Next, measure adherence to these guidelines consistently through anonymous customer feedback surveys.

Continually looking for opportunities to improve customer satisfaction and take remedial actions promptly increases brand reputation dramatically over time. Maintaining an exceptional service experience should not be limited to just one or two departments but prioritized across teams in various roles.

Communicating Transparently and Frequently:

Being honest and truthful while communicating with customers strengthens trust in your brand. Transparent communication is equally important through all channels, including social media, email, website content, and branding material.

Transparency also means addressing customer concerns quickly and sincerely. 

Acknowledge mistakes, apologize when needed, give out credit if applicable, and take ownership of the issue. Customers will appreciate it when you take responsibility for the mistake and go out of your way to resolve their issues making it a positive experience.

Honoring Commitments

Grow a customer's trust in you by doing what you say. I know this sounds like a novel concept but you'd be surprised how many companies (big and small) don't honor commitments.

Honoring your word shows that you are reliable, trustworthy, and dependable. Whether it's deadlines or quality standards, fulfilling commitments demonstrates a level of reliability that customers value. Consistency in delivering on promises breeds loyalty and establishes credibility.

To do all three of these things effectively, you need an open line of communication with your customer. Using Humankind's concierge commerce software will give you the opportunity to communicate with your customers on the most powerful channel, the one they never leave behind - SMS.

Build Stronger Customer Relationships by Catering to Their Needs

To cater to customer needs, implement strategies around listening and responding to the feedback that your customers give you. Offer them personalized solutions and anticipate their future needs in this way, you'll create a relationship that goes deeper than the transaction. In the sub-sections, we'll talk about these 3 aspects of building stronger customer relationships to help you create effective solutions that generate customer loyalty.

Listening and Responding to Feedback:

Listening and responding to customer feedback begins with curiosity, a desire to meet their needs, and an open line of communication. Plus, customers appreciate it when their feedback is acted upon.

Here are four key points on how to listen and respond to customer feedback:

  • Encourage open communication channels; SMS is our favorite - and we believe the most powerful of all channels.
  • Regularly engage with customers; pre-purchase, during the shopping experience, and post-purchase- get curious so that they will communicate what they need honestly.
  • Make it easy for customers to provide feedback - surveys, reviews, and polls are great.
  • Actively listen to customer feedback and...
  • Take necessary actions based on their feedback, promptly.

It is also important to keep in mind that every piece of customer feedback is valuable, whether it's positive or negative. It shows what's working well and what needs improvement. To stand out from competitors who may not take feedback seriously, address each comment with empathy, professionalism, and a willingness to improve.

Offering Personalized Solutions:

In the age of digital marketing and e-commerce, personalization has become a key differentiator for brands. Personalized interactions, based on a customer’s history and preferences, lead to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty. Studies show that 80% of customers are more likely to purchase from a brand that offers personalized experiences.

What does it mean to offer personalized solutions?

  • Know Your Customers: Understand your customers’ needs, preferences, and purchasing habits. Use these insights to tailor interactions, product recommendations, and communications.
  • Segment Your Customers: Group your customers based on common characteristics such as demographics, buying behavior, or product preferences. This allows for targeted communication and personalized offerings.
  • Customize Communications: Use the power of personalized messaging to make customers feel unique and valued. This could mean addressing them by their name in emails or sending personalized product recommendations.

Remember, personalization goes beyond marketing efforts. It should be integrated into every touchpoint of the customer journey, from product discovery to customer service. And this is where Humankind's conversational commerce software comes into play. The platform allows eCommerce brands to offer a one-to-one human connection, enabling you to personalize every interaction with your customers.

Anticipating Future Needs:

One of the best ways to show your customers that you value and understand them is to anticipate their needs before they even realize they have them. This requires understanding their purchasing habits, recognizing patterns, and being proactive in your offerings.

For example, if a customer regularly purchases a certain product from your store every three months, you could remind them when it's time for their next order or even offer a subscription service for convenience. Anticipating customer needs shows that you're attentive and proactive in providing a great customer experience, and this can set you apart from your competitors.

Implementing these strategies with the help of a personal shopper powered by Humankind's conversational commerce software can enhance your brand's ability to be there when your customer needs you.

What are Examples of Strong Customer Relationships?

Strong customer relationships can be recognized through various hallmarks.

Below are some examples:

  1. Amazon's Personalized Recommendations: Amazon is a prime example of a company that has mastered the art of strong customer relationships. Through their personalized recommendation system, they provide tailored shopping experiences that anticipate the customer's needs and preferences, making customers feel understood and appreciated.
  2. Apple's Ecosystem and Loyalty: Apple has built a vast loyal customer base through its high-quality products, excellent customer service, and integrated ecosystem. They've designed their products and services in such a way that customers keep coming back for more, illustrating the strength of the relationship they've built with their customers.
  3. Zappos’ Above-and-Beyond Customer Service: Zappos is well-known for its top-notch customer service. They go the extra mile to keep their customers happy, such as offering a 365-day return policy and surprising customers with overnight shipping upgrades. These actions show the customers that Zappos is willing to go above and beyond for them, enhancing the strength of their customer relationships.
  4. Humankind's Conversational Commerce: Our own software enables businesses to build strong customer relationships by offering real-time, personalized conversations with customers. This type of 1:1 interaction deepens the customer's connection with the brand, enhancing their overall shopping experience.

How do You Develop Relationships with Tough Customers?

Building relationships with tough customers can be a challenge... a huge challenge, but it's not impossible. Here are a few strategies that can help your team win over the most difficult customers:

  1. Maintain Professionalism: Even when faced with a difficult customer, it's crucial to stay calm and professional. Remember that the customer's frustration is not a personal attack but a reflection of their unsatisfied needs or unmet expectations.
  2. Active Listening: Demonstrate that you're actively listening to their concerns by paraphrasing their complaints and acknowledging their feelings in a given situation. This can help the customer feel heard and understood, which can reduce their frustration. If you'd like to learn more about this concept, Chris Voss, the Former FBI Hostage Negotiator and Founder of The Black Swan Group teaches it in depth in his book, "Never Split the Difference."
  3. Empathy: Show empathy towards the customer's situation. Let them know you understand their frustration and are genuinely interested in finding a solution that will help them. This can go a long way when diffusing high-tension situations and rebuilding broken connections.
  4. Problem-Solving: Once you've acknowledged their feelings and demonstrated understanding, work on solving the problem. Offer solutions and be flexible as much as possible. Remember, it's not just about resolving the issue at hand but providing an overall positive customer experience that keeps people coming back for more.
  5. Follow-up: After you've addressed the customer's concerns, follow up with them to ensure they're satisfied with the resolution. This can show the customer that you value their business and are committed to their satisfaction.

By integrating these practices into team training you can empower your employees to handle tough customers effectively.

In Conclusion...

Building strong customer relationships is similar to fostering long-term friendships. It requires understanding, effective communication, and consistent effort. By providing consistent, high-quality service, communicating transparently and frequently, honoring commitments, listening to feedback, offering personalized solutions, and anticipating future needs, you can create strong bonds with your customers.

Implementing these strategies may seem challenging, but with tools like Humankind's conversational commerce software, it becomes much easier. This platform not only enables effective communication but also offers a unique opportunity for personalization and can also help you anticipate your customer's needs. By leveraging these tools and strategies, you can foster relationships that not only drive repeat purchases but also turn your customers into loyal advocates for your brand.

Remember, building deep customer relationships is not just about making a sale. It's about making a connection. When you can make your customers feel understood, appreciated, and valued, they're more likely to stick around- which adds more to the bottom line. And that's the heart of customer retention and relationship-building.

If you want to see Humankind's conversational commerce software can help your brand build stronger relationships with customers, book a demo to chat with someone from our team today. Let's transform the way you connect with your customers, one conversation at a time!

← Back to All Content