7 Steps to Building Better Customer Relationships
“Building lasting relationships with customers or, increasing their loyalty towards the brand, towards the company or towards the products and services of the same, is becoming over time an increasingly sought after strategy. However, to achieve a minimum of results, within such a broad strategy that sometimes involves outsourced personnel, is by no means easy to achieve. Here we offer 7 key steps – although not the only ones – to achieve a minimum of objectives in the improvement of relations with our customers. “
Building a context that favors relations with customers is not a theory, in any way new, despite the fact that new terms and not a few concepts have appeared above all prognosis to build a new paradigm. The implications and importance of relational marketing within a marketing strategy are today, on the covers of specialized magazines, technical books and not a few websites, and all this despite the fact that this term arises at the beginning of the years eighty of the hand of Professor Leonard Berry at the University of Texas (Relationship Marketing), during a conference that would pass to the annals of history.
Recently, Kim T. Gordon, A prestigious specialist in relational marketing issues explained that “our lives are generally organized around long-term relationships – our hairdresser, the doctor who takes care of the family. We tend to respond well to loyalty and confidence-building programs when we talk about companies and products. Therefore, from my point of view, a successful strategy should build long-term relationships of trust after the sale has taken place. ” There is no doubt that “relational marketing”, for a few, is reduced to a limited approach that places special emphasis on the stimulation of sales thanks to the intelligent use of a customer database, with the aim of properly placing the product in the hands of this.
For others, the word “relationship” acquires vital importance, since part of the establishment of a long-term, lasting relationship of mutual collaboration between client and company. As Manuel Alfaro quotes with the words of Professor Orafía, “for years we have done everything for the client, but without the client. To respond to the change, invest in technology, or launch new innovative products, you have to enter decidedly in collaboration with the customer. ”
The problem of customer retention is a critical aspect in today’s business, and that is why we have to realize that it is very important to build and cement a relationship with the customer that focuses on customer behavior. The education and sophistication of their attitudes and habits go well beyond a simple newsletter, special discount programs, e-mails or greeting cards that make them feel happier and more loyal. The sophistication of their behavior requires important changes in the management of customer relationships and, above all, greater knowledge of it.
An interesting marketing strategy book, written by Jackson and Wang, begins chapter 4 with a devastating phrase about this statement: “I know what my client is like. She is a woman, She is between 18 and 34 years old, married, has at least 2 children and lives in the suburbs. She and her husband own a home and earn at least $ 25,000 a year. But when I go to an establishment and see who takes my products from the shelf … It never looks like the description given by our marketing department. ”
What are the 7 steps to building better relationships?
Those responsible for marketing or, better yet, those responsible for customer services and, perhaps also the sales department for their intimate relationship with them, should be aware that their role is closely linked to the creation of links with moods or the breaking of psychological boundaries. It occurs daily when you visit a customer or when you call him on the phone.
For this reason, it is very important to keep in mind that having adequate client knowledge is an essential step in the construction of a customer relationship management model.
Step 1: Collect accurate and updated information about customers
Clients are not just a number, they are individuals and must be treated as such. Therefore, the first step must be based on your knowledge, knowing what your needs are and knowing what you expect from us. Without accurate information from our customers, how do you expect to offer the best service or the best support for your products? It is important that this continues over time, because the needs of our customers change with the market, with those unexpected turns. The client is not a static entity, it is in constant motion, and it is our job to have that information updated. For this, in each contact we make with customers, it is very important to keep in mind the need to update the information in our databases close to them.
Step 2: Product Knowledge
It is not necessary to be a very special technician so that our sales or customer support departments know at all times the characteristics of our products, programs, services or any other element that we provide. Knowing in-depth the product of our organization, knowing the ins and outs, the technical and technological needs and, in short, having an “expertise” and an adequate “know-how”, constitutes one of the fundamental pillars in the construction of relations of success.
Our staff must know how to use our products, they must communicate at all levels with the development staff, be informed about improvements or new implementations, and what their appreciations are, whether it is a product or a service, at all Organization levels.
Without a doubt, a client never wants to hear that he is transferred to another person in the organization because he has better technical knowledge or we don’t understand what he is talking about.
Step 3: Invest time in learning from customers
Think of a call center. Those responsible for customer service are usually measured – for production reasons – in terms of profitability, that is, in the number of times a day they solve customer doubts or problems, against better, instead of measuring the quality of the attention Quantity versus quality. Does that mean investing time in the client? In any way. A system of production of such characteristics will never place emphasis on sustained learning through the client but on the mechanics of attention. And this is, beyond a doubt, a big mistake.
If customers enjoy something, it is to be heterogeneous. It doesn’t matter if they use our solution, or use a service from our company, customers are so different in relation to products and services that they become independent “worlds.” Therefore, it is vital to focus on your knowledge. On the one hand, services and products are improved, and on the other, the client’s own background knowledge is improved, allowing for more personalized attention and a more segmented offer.
Step 4: Always offer something of value to customers
We emphasize again the psychological value of the relationship with clients. A clear instrument of competitive advantage is to offer, in each relationship with the client, something of perceptual value towards it. Every purchase you make, what consultation you make, every complaint you have … offer you a psychological consideration at all times, something that, even if it does not translate into monetary return for you, has more meaning than anything else. Provide value to the customer.
Step 5: Quality of service is a matter of both parties
Collaboration is the mother of all battles. In a customer relationship management strategy, both parties should be aware that success is only possible through a win-to-win relationship, similar to both the client-side and the company side, and vice versa. An example is immediate: When a customer service manager puts all his effort into solving a problem, if the client does not collaborate to the same extent, the effort will only have been halfway and, therefore, the results as well. That is why it is important to train those responsible for the management with the clients that, it is essential that they involve the client in the resolution and in the search for answers, the client must realize at all times that the company works with him and needs his cooperation. This achieves two things:
Step 6: Reward customer loyalty
Make sure that everything you do is seen by your client as something for the benefit of the client. It is not easy to put in place mechanisms that reward customer loyalty. And, please, don’t think that it has to be a valuable monetary reward in an accounting way. What a doubt it is that if you reward, again to your client with a simple psychological perception, the loyalty to you of your client will be greater. In a book entitled “Beyond customer service: keep customers for life”, some really interesting strategies to reward the customer are explained, such as assigning a support person to a specific customer and let him know that this person will be there when he needs it to help him solve doubts, problems or anything.
Step 7: Communicate regularly with customers
Proactive attitude. If you do not want to lose any customer, you should always take the first step, so it is very important to communicate regularly with your customers. Otherwise, all the previous steps – especially the first ones – would not make sense in any way. Although this issue may seem simple, it is not. Most companies always wait for customers to communicate first. The psychological component of “taking the first step” gives a stronger relationship between you and your client since he sees it as an act of true attention in the relationship.