What do you feel is the most important factor to building relationships? How you make customers feel is the most important factor …hands down in our opinion. Like making new friends. It is becoming the most important element of social commerce.
People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Business is a people activity; people like to do business with people they know, like, and trust. Ones with whom they have relationships are at the top of the desirable business option list. The stronger the relationships with your customers, the greater will be their trust and loyalty in your business. So it is very logical for businesses in establishing customer relationships.
Check out our thoughts on customer focus.
Studies show time and again, your best, most loyal customers are the most apt to tell their friends about your business, creating strong word of mouth marketing. Word of mouth marketing is the most important element of any marketing campaign.
Have you ever used checklists to improve your attitude toward establishing customer relationships? How did they work for you? We often use checklists to achieve our goal to create the best in building new customer relationships. (See our article on what matters most in preparing for each new day.)
After college, I spent almost 2 years training as a naval aviator. An important element of that training was the use of checklists in the learning and refresher process. Checklist utilization remains an important part of my business life. It is always a good idea to have a helpful checklist for reminders of improvements for your business or your personal life.
I keep a stack of 10 or so checklists that I rotate and update occasionally. I pull out one checklist to read and contemplate for five minutes as a way to start each day. I find it puts my thinking in the right frame of mind.
Creating positive experiences for building customer relationships often will take some serious thinking. But hopefully not at the expense of the little things you can do to build customer relationships. Such as what you may ask?
Let’s examine the customer relationship checklist of 20 items that Digital Spark Marketing recommends to its clients:
Building relationships … remember their name
Always a good thing … but don’t guess. It is worse if you get it wrong.
Listen before talking and listen more than you talk
Store and use what you learn. Good customer insights are worth their weight in gold.
Of course, your business goals are important. But keeping customers happy is a critical goal.
Remember special occasions and send congratulatory notes
Simple things always make fantastic impressions and impacts.
Building relationships at work … give without being asked
You will learn what their issues are. Solving some of these issues without being asked will maximize the impacts on future relationships.
Build relationships … do the unexpected
Surprising them with things can make a huge impact. Want to know one of the most effective ways that any company can use to build its brand and create reciprocity with its customers?
By surprising them!
People like getting things for free and like them even more when they are viewed as ‘favors’. But even more, they love receiving these favors as surprises.
Related post: Positive Attitude Is Everything for Customer Engagement
Make them feel special
Let me describe a recent episode where I was the customer at a Marriott Hotel. My wife and I were staying in celebration of our 20th anniversary. On our arrival at check-in the front desk welcomed us with a warm anniversary congratulations and welcome. They said they were able to find us a very nice ocean view room. We certainly were not disappointed.
Later, after getting back from an afternoon of sightseeing and a dinner on the bay, we returned to the room to receive a very nice bottle of champagne and fresh strawberries from the front desk and hotel chef. What a great surprise and ‘wow’ customer experience. Great job making us feel very special.
Always do your best to go above and beyond … even on the little things.
Lend an ear
Customers are just people and many times they need to vent or tell a story of something in their lives. Listen like it was someone in your family.
Offer without being asked
Learn to anticipate. When you can, solve their problem without being asked. Note you will reuse insights many times, so this will become easier than you think.
Make them look good
Whatever you can do in this regard will be remembered and talked about. The foundation of the best marketing … word of mouth marketing.
Follow through on every commitment
No choice on this one. If you are not going to deliver, then don’t promise you will. Broken promises will be much worse.
Build relationships … sShow that you care
Gathering customer insights over time will lead you to a good understanding. They work best in showing you care. An example? A florist we worked with always took flower vases to the car for customers so that could strap them down so they wouldn’t be overturned.
Reach out if they’re in need
Spot customers that are in need of help or need. Reach out with help and support.
Never sacrifice a long-term relationship for a short-term gain
Always a big no-no without question.
Remain calm, cool, and collected during difficult times
Your lack of stress will be easily noticed and transferable.
Do what’s right
No matter what or even when no one is watching.
Admit quickly when you’re wrong
Everyone makes mistakes … so fess up, apologize, and move on.
Learn how to disagree without being disagreeable
No one likes to be around a negative, disagreeable person. Avoid this attitude at all costs.
Share the credit
Give collaboration a try when dealing with customers. It may be as simple as asking their opinions. When done, share the credit and make them look good.
Let me share a great experience and story about establishing customer relationships from a recent trip:
A landscape gardener ran a business that had been in the family for two or three generations. The staff was happy, and customers loved to visit the store, or to have the staff work on their gardens or make deliveries – anything from bedding plants to ride-on mowers.
For as long as anyone could remember, the current owner and previous generations of owners were extremely positive happy people.
Most folks assumed it was because they ran a successful business.
In fact, it was the other way around…
A tradition in the business was that the owner always wore a big lapel badge, saying Business Is Great!
The business was indeed generally great, although it went through tough times like any other. What never changed, however, was the owner’s attitude, and the badge saying Business Is Great!
Everyone who saw the button for the first time invariably asked, “What’s so great about business?” Sometimes people would also comment that their own business was miserable, or even that they were unhappy or stressed.
Anyhow, the Business Is Great! Badge always tended to start a conversation, which typically involved the owner talking about lots of positive aspects of business and work, for example:
the pleasure of meeting and talking with different people every day
the reward that comes from helping staff take on new challenges and experiences
the fun and laughter in a relaxed and healthy work environment
the fascination in the work itself, and in the other people’s work and businesses
the great feeling when you finish a job and do it to the best of your capabilities
the new things you learn every day – even without looking to do so
and the thought that everyone in business is blessed – because there are many millions of people who would swap their own situation to have the same opportunities of doing a productive meaningful job, in a civilized well-fed country, where we have no real worries.
And so the list went on. And no matter how miserable a person was, they’d usually end up feeling a lot happier after just a couple of minutes listening to all this infectious enthusiasm and positivity.
It is impossible to quantify or measure attitude like this, but to one extent or another it’s probably a self-fulfilling prophecy, on which point, if asked about the badge in a quiet moment, the business owner would confide:
The badge came first. The customer relationships and great business followed.
REMEMBER, trust and credibility, the foundation of establishing customer relationships, take years to develop but can be lost in seconds
These are not things that we do not already know, of course.
Yet the little things on this checklist simply remind us of what we already know but may have forgotten. Then it is up to us to put these lessons (or reminders) into daily use through persistence and practice.
All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that fight gets better every day you learn and apply new lessons.
When things go wrong, what’s most important is your next step.
Test. Learn. Improve. Repeat.
Need some help in building better customer trust from your customer engagement? Creative ideas to help grow your customer relationships?
Call today for a FREE consultation or a FREE quote. Learn about some options to scope your job and pay for results.
Call Mike at 607-725-8240.
All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that fight gets better every day you learn and apply new ideas.
When things are not what you want them to be, what’s most important is your next step. Call today.
Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change. We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.
More reading on customer experience from our Library: