Guide to Customer Relations With 10 Examples for Success
Learning why strong customer relations are important and how to improve yours can help improve your overall customer experience and lead to increased brand loyalty, employee retention and sales. In this article, we take a deep dive into customer relations with 10 examples that can strengthen your company's relationships with customers.
What are customer relations?
Customer relations are all the activities a company does to engage with its customers. This can include new customer interactions to long-term relationship development. Managing these relationships requires you to try out different strategies, but using the right one can help create lasting relationships with customers.
You can categorize customer relations into two groups: reactive and proactive. Reactive customer relations are useful when responding to customer issues, such as product defects or poor service. This can include identifying issues, troubleshooting and finding an appropriate resolution with the customer. Proactive relations focus on how to increase customer satisfaction regularly. This can involve loyalty rewards, personal messages or other incentives.
Why are customer relations important?
There are several benefits to having a formal customer relations strategy. Here are a few reasons customer relations are important:
Customer loyalty: Customer loyalty is the likelihood that a customer may engage with a specific company or brand over others. Having good customer relations can show your customer you care and ensure you are considering their opinions.
Customer retention: Similar to loyalty, retention is the likelihood that a customer might buy your products again. If, for example, you provided a customer with great reactive relations to solve a problem, they might choose to shop with you again.
Customer satisfaction: Customers may positively respond to company surveys or other engagement activities if you build a positive relationship with them. Honest feedback can help you and your employees make adjustments to customer relations, products or services as needed.
Customer ambassadors: Customers may be more vocal if your company has strong customer relations. They might recommend your services to friends or family or discuss their positive experiences.
Improving customer relations examples
There are many ways to improve customer relations depending on what you want to target. Here are 10 examples of customer relationship management you might consider for your business:
Build a happy customer service department
Customer service is the department that assists and advises customers before, during and after purchases. It's important to invest in this department that can provide memorable service to all customers. Encourage feedback from the department members about how they can best serve the customers and consider incentive programs for any positive feedback.
Train your employees
Customer service employees are only one department in a store or business, so it's important to make sure all employees receive proper training in customer relations. This can focus on soft skills like professional communication, active listening or critical thinking skills, along with policy and procedure. Company-wide training can help address the issues in a timely manner and provide a consistent experience for customers.
Customer feedback can help you identify your company's strengths and weaknesses. You might send surveys out at points of sale that include questions based on their experience. This can include how they viewed their employee interactions, how easy it was to solve a problem or how accessible resources were for answering questions. These can all help show areas of customer relations you might adjust based on their wants and needs. Encouraging frequent feedback might help you know if the changes you make are working.
Related: How To Get Feedback From Customers
One way to maintain positive customer relations is to follow up with customers quickly. You might have helplines, a department to answer questions or targeted resources, like FAQ pages, that can help a customer resolve an issue. Following up right away can show the customer that you share their urgency in resolving an issue.
Customers value transparency because it shows that you are willing to share all relevant information with them, whether it's positive or negative. Transparency in customer relations might include publishing your store's return policy, pricing or issue resolution times. These can ensure the customer has this information at all times when working with your company and you are not surprising them with information that wasn't already available.
Technology tools can help you manage customer relations quickly and efficiently. You might use automated response technology, live chat features or help desk technology to track large volumes of tickets. There are also different CRM (customer relationship management) tools you can consider that manage different aspects of customer relations like sales, marketing or general feedback.
Related: What Is the Meaning of CRM?
Enable self-service and automation
Self-service might not seem like an improvement to customer relations but it can enhance the customer's experience. People may prefer the option to either check out themselves or discuss issues with a customer service team but self-service options can help address some issues. If you're leveraging technology, chat robots that automatically respond to customers or knowledge bases that have customer resources are two ways to enable self-service.
Similarly, consider applying automation to some processes. For example, if a person purchases an article of clothing, you might show them additional items they might like. An automated tool like this could make a customer feel like your company understands their needs.
Appreciation is when you express, either through words or incentives, that you're grateful for a customer's business. You might consider loyalty programs that provide discounts, cash vouchers or other incentives when a customer shops with you. If a customer feels valued by your company, they may consider future purchases or refer your company to others.
Accessibility in business is a customer's ability to reach you. Try to ensure all employees at various stages in the customer life cycle are accessible to people when needed. For example, a salesperson readily available to assist at checkout is as important as a customer service rep available to process a return. When considering accessibility needs, consider how your company may be accessible to all customers, including those with physical or mental disabilities, those reaching your company from far away and those who may not have resources like the internet.
Co-creating helps the customer define the value of your products and services. For example, if customers write reviews on certain products, your company might highlight the rating. This empowers the customer to continue to provide feedback, engaging with your company and brand. Customers then can rely on each other's reviews, and the company can receive meaningful product and service data it can use to adjust any customer relations or product issues.
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