Every successful business is a result of a strong connection between the seller and the buyer. Hence the need to consider how to build customer relationships.
Your goal as a business person should be to increase sales and stay long in the business.
Given this, you won’t be focused on just making a sale and closing it.
Hence, it is in the best interest of your company that you not only sell to a customer.
Instead, you should strive to have a cordial relationship with them that makes them feel like family.
Therefore, in this blog post, we will consider how most businesses have successfully built strong customer relationships.
You will also see just why it is important to work on building and improving customer relationships.
Furthermore, we’ll review the dangers or disadvantages of having a bad relationship with your customers.
Of course, we’ll also consider some practical steps you need to take to ensure that you have a very cordial relationship with your customers.
Therefore, let’s get to it.
How To Build Customer Relationships
Have you ever had an experience with a customer whereby he/she is ready to wait for you to supply an item you do not have in stock?
This is not because you are the only one selling that item.
Instead, it is because of the relationship of trust you’ve built.
This is one of the many benefits of a good customer relationship and why trust is important in business.
This is true, especially now that we live in a time when loyalty is hard to come by, and it takes time and effort to build and maintain trust.
Hence, building customer relationships is nn-negotiable in business.
However, before we discover the ways to build customer relationships, let’s establish some basis.
So, what’s customer relationship all about?
What are Customer Relationships?
Simply put, customer relationships entail the ways you as a business owner interact with your customers to maintain loyalty and retention.
These customers might either be existing ones or potential customers.
The natural tendency in business might be to focus on pursuing new customers or getting bigger clients.
However, existing customers are still significant.
When you invest effort, time, and energy in nurturing and retaining existing customers, you increase continuous patronage in your business.
Additionally, you increase the likelihood of getting more customers to patronize you.
This is thanks in part to the positive reviews of these existing customers.
It is more cost-effective to gain new customers from the positive testimonies of satisfied and loyal customers.
When you develop a good relationship with your customers, they instantly become non-paid brand ambassadors for your business.
This is because they uphold your brand reputation and image by speaking well to one or more people about your products and services.
Hence, they promote your business for you freely.
This and many other reasons are why it’s essential to make conscious efforts in building customer relationships.
When you don’t, it negatively impacts your business in several ways.
Disadvantages of Not Building Good Customer Relationships
There are disadvantages and negative effects of neglecting to build good relationships with your customers.
Here are some of the negative effects or demerits of not building good customer relationships:
Loss of Customers
Let’s start from the obvious and very first demerit not building good customer relationships.
That is the loss of customers.
A business relationship is similar to other forms of personal, professional, or romantic relationships.
When a relationship between friends or lovers gets toxic or is not mutually beneficial, it is on the verge of a breakdown.
This is why many of such relationships break up daily.
Because there is no clear advantage or benefit of the relationship anymore.
Similarly, when you do not work to maintain good relationships with your customers, the chances are that they will stop doing business with you.
You will find out that you continue to experience customer churn daily, which could be detrimental to your business.
Loss of Income/Revenue
As earlier stated, people will only patronize businesses that they have a cordial relationship.
It might surprise you that even though you have quality products, your patronage continues to drop.
Many of your customers might prefer doing business with your competitors rather than with you.
In such circumstances, you might begin to wonder what the problem is and want to start working more on improving your products or services.
However, the underlying reason might be poor customer relationships.
When customers don’t feel a certain attachment to you and your business, they will eventually leave you.
That will invariably affect your revenue and income negatively because of the reduced patronage.
Therefore, we cannot stress the importance of maintaining good customer relationships enough.
Another disadvantage of not having a good relationship with your customers is that it leads to dissatisfied customers.
You will find out that the calls, emails, and chats you receive daily are from angry customers.
This is because they do not feel any attachment to your brand.
On the other hand, if there is a good personal relationship between you and your customers, they’ll understand and be patient with the business.
More often, a dissatisfied customer does not get angry easily and rant with a business owner who has built a good relationship with him or her.
However, it is easy for some customers to get angry on even trivial matters, especially when there is no good rapport between them and the business.
Frustrated Customer Service Representatives
The result of poor relationships with your customers is that you constantly get customer complaints.
When you have many dissatisfied customers, the customer representatives suffer the most.
Imagine a scenario whereby your customer care agents get complaints daily rather than appreciation and encouragement?
What happens is that you have a team of frustrated employees.
It goes without saying that this frustration would take a toll on them and sap their productivity.
With time, you might be doing more harm than good for your business.
As such, this feeling of frustration could also affect how they interact with the customers.
This will lead to chaos in your business and affect customer relationships.
Negative Brand Image, Identity, and Reputation
We live in an age of great technological advancement.
Hence, it is a considerable risk doing things that tarnish your brand’s reputation, especially when you run an online business.
Customers are no longer very forgiving when they feel insulted by a company or don’t get value for what they pay for.
Hence, it is not uncommon for dissatisfied and angry customers to resort to social media.
They drop negative comments that could soil your brand image or reputation.
This can be avoided, though.
As a business owner, you’ve put much effort into building a good brand image or reputation.
Therefore, it is precious and not something you should joke with.
Therefore, the need for conscious efforts in building good rapport and good relationships with your customer.
In all, these are some of the dangers of not having good customer relationships as a business.
Factors Working Against Building Good Customer Relationships
It’s most likely that you’ve tried several times to build customer rapport/ relationships.
However, nothing you’ve done seems to be working.
This is because certain factors make it difficult to achieve your goals of building good customer relationships.
Let’s take a look at some of these factors:
You likely understand the gravity of maintaining good customer relations and satisfaction.
Nevertheless, you need to ask yourself if your staff or employees also understand this.
If your employees are unprofessional and inefficient in their job, there is a likelihood that you’ll have many customer complaints.
And when such complaints get too much, the customers do not feel the urge to want to develop any relationship whatsoever with your brand.
Hence, you have a group of customers who patronize you because of what you have to offer without any sense of loyalty to your business.
Poor Customer Service
This is directly related to inefficient employees.
The difference is that employees are a general term for all the staff in your company, and some do not care for customers directly.
However, included among your staff are the essential workers who are the first contact with prospective or existing customers.
These will play a major role in deciding whether or not the business can have a good relationship with customers.
When your customer care representatives do not offer effective customer service and possess the necessary skills for their roles, it does more harm than good for your company.
Many times, a simple complaint from a customer which could be solved easily escalates into a serious issue because of the way a customer care agent handles it.
As a business owner, you are responsible for recruiting qualified customer care representatives and giving them the necessary training to be the best.
That way, you can rest assured that you are not losing your customer’s loyalty because of poor customer service.
Lack of Value
A customer doesn’t just pay for the goods or services but rather for the value they offer.
This is why every business establishment must add value to its customers from time to time.
Truth be told, no one wants to spend money and not see the benefit of what they are spending money on.
As a result, making it difficult to foster healthy business relationships with your customers.
Dishonesty in Business Transactions
Another factor that reduces the chances of forging good relationships with your customers is dishonesty.
You would recall that earlier, we compared a business relationship to other forms of relationships.
Experience has shown that one of the major reasons most relationships break apart is when a partner is dishonest and untrustworthy.
The same is true of business relationships.
You will find it difficult to build and maintain a long-lasting relationship with your customers if you are not trustworthy.
Inconsistency in Product Quality
What was the first experience of a customer patronizing your business-like?
Very likely, the customer enjoyed the entire process and was even very happy and willing to spread the word about your good products/services.
However, over time, did you maintain the same quality with which you started with the customer?
Or did your products or services drop in quality?
When you are inconsistent with your products or service quality, you risk ruining the relationship between you and your customers.
This is because the customers begin to doubt your genuineness and integrity, and as such, would not know what to expect from you.
Therefore, inconsistency in the quality of products and/or services can make it very difficult to build a good customer relationship.
What kind of business owner are you? Are you the jovial and happy one with who everyone wants to talk to and do transactions?
Or are you the very strict business owner with who customers are afraid to air their concerns and opinions?
Being approachable plays a pivotal role in whether or not a customer will have a good long-term relationship with you.
While it is not out of place to be firm and stand your ground, you must make yourself as approachable as possible.
This is especially so when interacting with your customers.
Otherwise, you’ll make most of your customers unwilling to do business with you and forge a close relationship with you.
Lack of Appreciation for Customers
While it is true that your customers are paying for your products or services, they still deserve appreciation.
This is because your firm is not the only option available to them, but they chose to do business with you.
You would do well to ask yourself: “When was the last time I sent my customers an email or text showing appreciation?
“Do I say ‘Thank You’ when a customer patronizes me, even though I understand it was an exchange of value?”
When customers do not feel valued, it’s difficult for them to bond with you or your business.
Lack of Customer Loyalty/Reward Program
Like appreciating your customers, a lack of customer reward programs is also a huge factor for your inability to build strong customer relationships.
A customer loyalty/reward program is a business system that rewards loyal customers for their continuous patronage.
Therefore, when you fail to recognize your customers’ loyalty and reward them accordingly, they tend to feel unappreciated.
Consequently, making it difficult for you to build strong business relationships with them.
Now you know some of the things hindering you from building valuable business relationships with your customers.
Given this, you can now move forward to building strong customer relationships while considering all the above-mentioned factors.
How to Build Customer Relationships
Let us now look at the various ways in which you, as a business owner, can build long-lasting relationships with your customers.
Application of these ways enumerated would ensure you enjoy all the benefits that come from building customer relationships.
Romantic relationships thrive on effective and regular communication between both parties involved.
The same is true of the relationship between a business and its customers.
Ensure you use all the avenues available to reach out to your customers regularly.
Sometimes, you can draft an email or give them a call, letting them know you thought about them and want to hear from them.
If your customers hear from you regularly and not just when you want to market to them or close sales, they will feel appreciated.
This will also strengthen the between you and your customers.
Consequently, helping build good customer relationships.
Take Time To Know Your Customers
Before you can successfully build relationships with your customers, you must get to know them well.
This involves getting to know their background, what they like, their dislikes, and what they truly value.
This would help you gather valuable information about their personalities and serve as useful feedback to help you serve them better.
Only when you have good knowledge of this can you deal appropriately with your customers and forge a good relationship with them.
Have Customer Reward Programs
Customers who are loyal to your brand and patronize you through thick and thin deserves to be rewarded.
If you do not have a loyalty reward program, set one up as soon as possible to improve your business offers.
Overall, when you give back to your customers, it increases their trust in you and helps you to build a stronger relationship with them.
Improve Your Customer Service
One of the things that frustrate customers and jeopardize building customer relationships is bad customer service.
In light of that, it would be great if you, as a business owner, invest in training your customer care representatives and getting the best hands for this role.
When customer complaints are promptly handled, it improves the quality of your services.
Thereby making the relationship between you and them stronger.
Fulfill Promises and Exceed Expectations
There are certain promises you made to a customer when he/she first had contact with your business.
Customers do not forget such promises quickly and always lookout for the slightest deviation from them.
When you do not keep up with your promises and do not meet their expectations, you have more dissatisfied customers.
Therefore, you must do your best to provide excellent services that meet their expectations.
Also, adopt the principle of “under promise and over deliver” when dealing with your customers.
That means you do not just meet your customers’ expectations, but you try hard to exceed their expectations and wow them.
This will also foster a good relationship with them.
Be Honest In Your Dealings With Customers
In every relationship, dishonesty kills trust.
Hence, when dealing with your customers, you must be honest and straightforward with them.
It is better to hurt your customers with the truth than to feed them with lies to pacify them.
The reason being that when they later find out you’ve been lying to them, they’ll lose faith in you and what you stand for.
Thus tarnishing your business’s reputation and credibility.
On the other hand, when you are honest in your dealings with customers, it increases their trust in you and strengthens your relationships with them.
You would need customer loyalty and trust to be able to forge a good relationship with your customer.
However, when you’re inconsistent with your products and services, it isn’t easy to build such loyalty.
The last thing you want to do is confuse your customers because you change so many things frequently.
When you do this, you make it difficult for them to identify with your brand.
As a result, and affecting their patronage and loyalty.
Therefore, be consistent with your products and services offerings/quality when dealing with your customers to build relationships with them.
Value! This is what your customers pay you for.
The day your customers decide that your products and services no longer add value to them, that is the day their patronage drops.
And, of course, it is impossible to have a relationship with them when their patronage drops.
Therefore, when marketing your existing products or introducing new products, emphasize the value you are adding.
Only when you do this will you make them believe what you have to offer and keep up their patronage.
Apologize When Necessary
As you go about your business, you will undoubtedly meet with many angry and frustrated customers.
These are bent on destroying whatever little relationship that exists between you and them.
It is up to you not to let that happen.
Do not feel too big to apologize to your customers when certain policies or rules cause them inconveniences.
Even when you think you are not to be blamed for the issues they encounter, still endeavor to offer sincere apologies.
This will calm them down and help you build a long-term relationship with them.
Provide Necessary Tools And Support To Assist Customers
You might also need to invest in getting certain tools and software that make it easier for customers to get the solution to their problems.
Many of these tools are self-help tools, which these customers can use even when you are not available to assist them.
This will ensure they have all the assistance they need and reduce the possibility of dissatisfaction.
Thereby fostering a good business relationship between you and your customers.
Importance Of Building Customer Relationships
Having considered the various ways to build strong customer relationships.
Here are some reasons why you should put much effort into ensuring that you’re successful at it.
It Increases Customer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is a measure of how happy your customers are with your products and services.
No doubt, when you provide the much-needed value for your customers and develop a close relationship with them, they’ll be satisfied with your business.
If you are not sure if your customers are satisfied with your products and services, there are various ways to measure customer satisfaction.
These methods include ratings on the website or survey forms on customer satisfaction.
When you have a group of happy and satisfied customers, it is only natural that your sales will increase.
These increased sales are the positive reviews that these satisfied customers give you.
More often than not, before a new customer patronizes a business, they go through existing customer reviews and feedback.
When you have a good relationship with your customers, they are happy and satisfied and leave a good review for your business.
This will lead to higher conversion rates and increased sales for your business.
Every day, customers walk away from a business without looking back, thereby reducing the income and revenue of the companies.
Your business doesn’t necessarily have to thread that path.
With good relationships comes trust, and it might even surprise you that when you unwittingly hurt them, they forgive you and stick with you.
This is one of the benefits that come from forging a good relationship with your customers.
The most cost-efficient and effective way to grow your customer base is through testimonials from satisfied customers.
When you devote efforts towards growing your relationship with your customers, they will willingly become brand ambassadors for you.
Usually, when people benefit greatly from something, they share this good news with others, especially their friends and family members.
This will increase your brand awareness and grow your customer base.
Ask any of the top guns in the business world, and they will tell you that one of the biggest costs incurred in businesses is the cost of customer acquisition.
Every year, businesses stress their budgets to make allocations for marketing and advertisement to get new customers.
It would interest you to know that you reduce customer acquisition cost when you work more on building customer relationships.
This is because you keep existing customers more, and these also bring more persons to join your business due to their positive reviews.
Therefore, you do not need to spend a fortune acquiring new customers.
Conclusion on How to Build Customer Relationships
No doubt, building customer relationships is not an easy task.
However, it’s a necessity for every business.
It is good that you and your team review what factors make it difficult for you to retain customers and build a relationship.
Once you’ve reviewed these factors, proceed to work on the various methods mentioned above to help you overcome such challenges.
With proper application, you will find that you are recording success in this and forging the best relationships with your customers in no time.
Best of luck!