We should all be working to build long-term customer relationships. A one-off, quick-hit sale can be easier to achieve, relatively speaking; but that sort of approach to customers leads to more of the same – a lot of work for limited gain. Whereas, with a little more effort and deliberate planning, a long-term relationship can be built which is more likely to produce repeat business and brand loyalty – and proportionately greater gain in the long run.
When you consider the cost of acquisition for new customers versus the effort to maintain a long-term customer relationship – and their comparative value to your business – the effort and planning are more than worth the investment. You can take comfort from a reasonable expectation that you will see more reliable returns with a long-term customer – and probably enjoy each successive transaction more as the relationship develops.
In order to build these beneficial long-term relationships you must be willing to commit to a deliberate and well-considered plan of action. These sorts of relationships don’t just happen. It’s about more than just meeting needs – most customers expect that as a bare minimum of any transaction. It’s more about making a concerted effort to get to know your customer, predict their needs and then surpass their expectations.
It is about making a demonstration of the investment you have made in developing the relationship so that they can feel that you actually ‘value’ their investment in your brand and your services / products. Everyone wants their customers to invest in their business, often with real hard-earned cash – it’s not unreasonable for customers to expect to experience a similar investment from you to secure their business.
Information is the greatest asset to a business when they are building long-term customer relationships. Asking questions, and actively listening, is the key to gaining information. There are a number of tools available to help you collect this valuable information – online surveys, questionnaires, service / product reviews, feedback forms, online forums, focus groups, social media etc. You can also extrapolate certain details through observation and past experience – reviewing their purchase history to learn what customers like can suggest similar preferences.
This information enables you to personalise your services / products to long-term customers who have already demonstrated their loyalty and value. They have shown a willingness to invest in you and a willingness to respond positively (by making a purchase) when you get your offer right. You can be confident that your investment of time, effort and money will achieve the desired result when you are armed with the right information and a customer who shows willing.
When you combine the principles of excellent customer service with your understanding of the value of long-term relationships and what it takes to maintain them you will no doubt be on to a winning formula. This approach also has the benefit of communicating your professionalism and credibility, key ingredients in establishing your customers’ trust and confidence. This trust and confidence will likely feed their commitment to your brand and, possibly, create a willingness to be an advocate for your business.
For more information on building better customer relationships email Marie on firstname.lastname@example.org