by Jerry Mooney

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A business should pride itself on its ability to connect with people. After all, communication is the benchmark of… well, everything. From the employees to the clients, and, of course, the customer. It's our relationship with the customer that determines our success now and in the future. But as our customer is tempted by other offers and more competitive prices elsewhere, we've got to work extra hard at keeping them. So does this mean constantly throwing offers at them, or is it about improving our relationship with them?  

Treating Them Like People

We know, deep down, it's all about building that all-important trust with a customer, but if we're not treating them as people, this is completely irrelevant. The one thing many businesses suffer from, when it comes to building appropriate relationships with a customer is that they come from completely opposing viewpoints to the person that's buying the product. We can tell when there's a salesperson that’s in it for the money, and they are continually touching on the overused areas of building a bond with a customer, such as establishing a rapport with choice of words, body language, and so forth. We know when we are being seen as just another sale.

After all, as a customer, we have had good and bad experiences in a store, on the phone to a customer service agent, or even chatting to someone online. Customers don't like that faceless approach and treating you like you're just another person. And even for those people who are unaware that they are being subject to tried and tested psychological methods, if they suffer a problem with the product and they come back, they don't get the same level of care and attention as they did originally, which makes the customer believe only one thing, that it was all about the sale anyway! Instead, it's time to use our innate human instincts and treat them as they are human.

Not Focusing As Much On The Sale

We can't focus just on the sales aspect, but the problem we are in right now is that landscape of marketing and sales has been so well established, it can take some time for your salespeople, or customer service specialists, in general, to unlearn these processes. But we can make alterations within the company, such as by focusing on the customer culture, and putting the customer first, so that we're not just selling and pushing products at them, we alter our ethos not just to get their bank details and what color they want their product in, but rather endeavor to solve their needs.

This means we got to get to know each customer inherently. This can be very difficult, but this is where CRM systems come into play. Customer Relationship Management systems are in abundance out there, such as G-Suite. And it is these systems that can help us to forge a detailed relationship with the customer so that we can not only see their buying history with us, but we can look to solve their purchasing problems. But what adds that extra level of care when utilizing CRM systems is to ensure the customer feels they are being treated as a real person, and not just a sale. CRM systems can bridge the gap and help us to identify their needs, but we also need to have our customer service specialists develop a real conversational tone of voice.

What The Customer Needs To See From You

Customers don't like a cloak and dagger operation, and these days it's all about about transparency. Many organizations keep their cards close to their chest and don't disclose how their operations work. Usually, there's a very good reason for this, but if you want to develop that trust with the customer, they need to see that you are open and honest, and this is what will encourage them to buy from you rather than your competitor. This is something that many organizations are working hard on improving.

It could be done through the marketing processes; for example, an explainer video can give that behind the scenes sneak peek of what's going on. And if you do it right, and you don't sugarcoat it with hyperbole or a false image, highlighting the fact that you are transparent in everything you do will result in a more confident customer reaching out to you. Ultimately, this results in increased trust. Trust is the bedrock of every relationship we have.

Focus On The Lifetime Value Of A Customer, Not Just The Here And Now

And as we focus on closing that sale, and the pressure from within to sell, sell, sell, we get into a cycle where this is all we know. We only focus on the sale, and not long-term care. And many organizations do not care about their customers enough, just as long as the sale has been made. But what you need to do, with regards to the number crunching, is calculate how much it costs to market your products to that customer in comparison to how much money they would spend over time. This can result in an eye-opening experience because if you focus your energies on one or two marketing channels, or just direct your attention to the relationship you have with the customer, you would be surprised as to how often they would return.

Marketing is an essential process, and for those businesses that spend a lot of money acquiring the right marketing companies and numerous SEO tactics, they are worth nothing if a worthwhile relationship with the customer underpins it. And this is what will benefit both sides of the equation. By focusing on the lifetime relationship with the customer, this isn't just a way to save money on your marketing, but it helps the customer return again and again. And this is what will keep your business afloat during tough times. When a business suffers financial hardship, one of the options they may undertake would be to reach out to customers past and present, but if you haven't done anything for them in the last few years, they have no incentive to save you. So if we had that good relationship with the customer in the first place, we wouldn't need to go back to them on our (metaphorical) hands and knees. And at the same time, we all know, as a customer, when we are being used for the greater good. A good relationship between business and customer should be nurtured and treated like a real one.

Time To Change!

It could require a lot of change within the organization, not just in terms of your selling methods, but your whole attitude to generating profits may need re-evaluation. As we figure out where we're going wrong, either in terms of the structure, marketing, or even the product, we could view the customer as the least important process. But for any business to keep afloat, the customer should be the most important part. And this is why we have to change our attitude towards the customer as being more than just a sale, but a person that spends time with our brand and comes back to us because they want to. And we have to make them want to come back to us by the little things, namely a good product, pleasant customer service, and all of this is down to a good and honest human relationship. Instead of treating them as a means to money, shall we look at repairing the relationship now so everybody benefits?