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Updated 29 January 2024

Managing customer relationships: techniques and tips

All customers are valuable to a business, but some are more valuable than others. Think, for example, of a customer who comes back to you to buy a new product or service after his or her first purchase and endorses your brand by recommending it to other consumers: is his or her value the same as that of someone who merely buys one of your products or services once? The answer is, of course, no.

To establish a strong relationship with your most valuable customers you must, first of all, know who they are and know their specific needs. Based on that, you must then be able to offer them just what they want or need and promote your offerings in a way that reaches them effectively.

The aspects you need to consider in customer relationship management, however, are also many others; you are about to discover them all in this very guide.

 

The importance of customer relationships in modern business

Depending on your Business Model, today you can choose from different forms of customer relationships: from personal support (including dedicated versions) to self-service (or, in more advanced cases, automated services), via community and co-creation-based relationships.

The ways in which we relate to customers have changed profoundly over the years. The reasons for this are many, but prominent among them are the new expectations that consumers today have of companies.

 

Rising consumer expectations

Nowadays, even if you have succeeded in developing a unique and revolutionary product, you cannot tell yourself that you will achieve success with your startup. Shep Hyken, not surprisingly, teaches:

“The success of a startup is closely linked to the ability to manage and cultivate lasting relationships with customers.”

Winning over consumers is more complicated today because their attentions now focus not only on the product you sell – they also consider how you sell it and what happens before, during, and after the sale.

All of this has prompted companies to invest more and more in their dedicated customer service teams, precisely for the purpose of being able to deliver a better customer experience so as to meet (or even exceed) new and growing consumer expectations.

 

The key to long-term loyalty

You need to know that to build long-term customer loyalty you need to focus your attentions on customer interactions and take care to build strong relationships that are mutually beneficial and go beyond the single purchase.

For this to be possible, as already pointed out, you need to understand who your customers are and know what needs or desires they have. Then you need to establish a relationship with them, either in person or online. Keep in mind that this is a gradual process, kicking off as customers perceive the value of your startup and aimed at generating an interest that can then translate into a purchase.

Show your customers that they can trust you and rely not only on the quality of your products or services, but also on your customer service (remember that the training of employees is, in this regard, crucial). It doesn’t end there: keep the communication channel with customers open even after the purchase and use the information you collect to offer tailored rewards, discounts, promotions and offers.

A customer who feels held in high regard and appreciated will tend to make regular purchases from you (preferring you to competition) and recommend your products or services to friends and family.

 

Types of customer relationships

Earlier, we merely mentioned briefly the different types of customer relationships you can decide to adopt. Let us now delve into them one by one.

 

Personal and dedicated assistance

Personal assistance refers to a relationship with the customer based on the presence (physical or virtual) of an attendant serving the customer to meet his or her needs and resolve any problems or concerns.

Dedicated personal assistance involves a next step and, that is, that the relationship is maintained over time, entrusting the customer with the same staff member at all times. An example? Insurance or financial advisors.

 

Self-service and automated services

In contrast, the self-service customer relationship does not involve personal and dedicated assistance, since the customer is offered all the theoretical and practical tools to be able to complete the purchase transaction independently.

Automated services represent the evolved form of what has just been said: one example is online banks, which allow their users to perform many of the transactions that can be done at the physical bank counter independently via the Web.

 

The strength of communities

Creating a community makes customer relationships stronger while also fostering the emergence of relationships among customers themselves, giving rise to a shared identity that revolves around recognition within a group. Keep in mind that community, in this context, refers to any community of users that follows a brand and interacts with it through various forms of initiatives (mostly launched on the Web today).

 

Co-creation as an engagement strategy

Co-creation is a customer engagement strategy based on sharing the value creation process. In practical terms, this strategy translates into actively involving customers, who can suggest changes to what the company proposes.

 

Tools and techniques for managing customer relationships

Today’s technological evolution provides you with new tools to manage your customer relationships even more effectively.

 

Software and CRM to monitor interactions

Consumers’ increased focus on support services has prompted companies to invest more and more in CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and adopt an approach to business that puts the customer at the center of everything.

Valuable allies of companies in this regard are CRM management systems, technological tools designed specifically with the aim of making relationships with customers (both potential and existing) better throughout the sales cycle. CRM management systems, for example, make it possible to record contact information, monitor all customer interactions, and organize data that will later prove valuable for sales purposes.

 

The importance of feedback and satisfaction measurement

Your startup needs to build positive relationships with customers, and the only way to certify how good you are is to record feedback from the customers themselves, measuring their degree of satisfaction. You should know that studies have revealed that consumers believe that a good experience with a company is more likely to influence their purchase decision than advertising.

Requesting feedback can be done in a variety of ways: one example is Customer Satisfaction surveys with measurement by NPS scores (Net Promoter Score is a benchmark for measuring customer satisfaction, which focuses on the likelihood that customers will recommend the business to a friend of theirs).

 

Net Promoter Score

Net Promoter Score

 

Creating a customer-centered corporate culture

If you want to create positive relationships with your customers, you must also implement a customer-centered culture. Creating the buyer’s journey map (and not customer journey; in fact, the buyer’s journey is how you acquire customers, while the customer’s journey is how you retain them) allows you to precisely delineate the path of your target consumers: that way, knowing all the key steps will make it easier for your employees to help customers as well, intervening at the right time with the right solutions.

 

What is the buyer's journey

What is the buyer’s journey

 

Conclusion: the future of customer relations

As has already been widely emphasized, the only way to effectively manage customer relationships is to listen to the customers themselves. Their needs and wants have changed profoundly over time and-you can bet they will change again in the future. For this reason, you really cannot afford to ignore new and emerging trends.

 

Emerging trends and how to prepare for them

In the area of customer relations, the focus today is on two aspects in particular: customer loyalty and personalized experiences.

Regarding the first aspect, CRM systems are now increasingly able to anticipate customer inquiries, signaling where a problem might arise even before customers can notice it.

The customer’s buying experience is as important, if not more so, than the quality of the product or service you offer. In this sense, CRM platforms are very useful because they allow you to manage a large amount of information needed to create personalized experiences for each customer. In the near future-this is now a certainty-this will also be possible on a large scale.

Nicola Zanetti

Founder B-PlanNow® | Startup mentor | Startup consulting & marketing strategist | Leading startup to scaleup | Private angel investor | Ecommerce Manager | Professional trainer | Book writer

info@b-plannow.com

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