The first rule of business smarts is to never neglect your customer. Your enterprise basically exists to serve them. And if you’re an employee, you may also follow the same advice, perhaps just in a slightly different way to your boss. The end game is to keep the customer happy with your business so that they keep coming back.
The problem is, not many people know how to go about this, beyond basic things like smiling at the customer or speaking courteously to them. Not many businesspeople get that they actually need to nurture and build a customer centred culture around their company. As a result, they treat their clients as they would any regular stranger, or just try to put on a less than convincing show of concern and loyalty.
Needless to say, this half-spontaneous, half-rehearsed way of relating with customers seldom brings in the stream of sales that it’s wrongly expected to. People can tell when a genuine attempt is being made to make them comfortable, and when it’s all just a slap-on show designed to ‘fulfil all righteousness’. And they aren’t very trusting of businesses that frequently exhibit the latter trait.
It’s important to meet with customers where they are and to form a bond with them. We aren’t recommending that you drop your professionalism for casual relationships. The point is simply to know how to make the people who buy your products and services feel like you appreciate them as human beings, and that you don’t merely see them as money-spinning machines.
How to Connect With Your Customers on a Personal Level
1. Have One-on-One Meetings With Them
Yes, we love the idea of being able to do business with people remotely. Why risk getting stressed out by traffic and long commutes when we can do the whole transaction while reclining on a couch?
But there’s still a big place for physical, one-on-one meetings. It gives both parties a sense of personality that’s crucial for building trust. What’s more, it’s easier to get people to agree to things when you’re with them in person. They can’t just swipe you away from their sight as they might do if you were on their smartphone or laptop screens.
Your ability to make this happen will depend on the sort of business you’re running. But even if it’s a fairly large e-commerce store, you might strengthen bonds and inspire greater confidence by having some kind of event organized, which would make you meet some of your customers face to face. Ideas for this include raffle draws, appreciation parties, get-togethers, garage sales days, etc.
2. Be Personable
This one does involve those ‘basic’ but crucial things we mentioned at the start of this article. It’s about being amiable, courteous and kind. But it’s also about knowing how to communicate with different customers in ways that they’d appreciate as individuals.
On the whole, people will be pleased that you treat them with courtesy. They might even be impressed if you mention something about them that you’ve noticed (this works better if they’re regulars). For example, you might compliment the nice wristwatch they’re wearing, or ask them how they’re faring if they look downcast.
You will need to be sensitive to your customer’s temperamental predispositions as well. One customer might be typically loud and exuberant. This sort might want to do most of the talking, and you’ll need to listen and show that you’re following what they’re saying. Another may be more withdrawn, less excitable, and speak only a few words at any given time. In this case, you may want to be less pushy and chatty, while trying to understand what they prefer or don’t fancy.
3. Keep in Touch
Where it’s possible, you should try to stay in touch with your customers. This lets them know that you’re not a blip on their radar, but that you’re always available and willing to meet their needs. The usual ways to do this are via phone, email, text messaging (SMS), and social media and instant messaging platforms.
There’s a line to navigate here, a line between too little and excess communication. Where you should draw this line depends on what the customers will appreciate (not just tolerate), the norms and standards for this sort of communication, and the worth of what you actually have to say when you contact them. If you’re offering them plenty of useful information when you hit them up, they’ll be glad to hear from you more often.
When you do reach out to customers, you should be doing so for some of these reasons:
•You’re sending them goodwill messages (holidays, birthdays, other anniversaries, congratulatory messages)
•You’re informing them about your latest products and promotions.
•You’re telling them of happenings within your company about which they might want to know.
4. Ask them for Feedback
This helps your customer relations in many ways.
First, your customers will see that you’re interested in what they think of your offerings. This, in turn, means (at least potentially) that you’re willing to change things to work better for them. There are at least two takeaways from this: they’re part of making a product, and they’re valued. These are powerful motivators for most people to stick with a brand.
5. Request Testimonials
You can also request testimonials from persons who are satisfied with what you’re doing.
The great thing about testimonials is that it can work positively for everyone involved. The people who tell you that they’re happy with your products will understand that you value their opinion. Those who you’d like to see the testimonials are actually more persuaded by them than they are by regular sales attempts at bringing them on board. And you’ll likely gain more trust from both these sets of people.
Featured image source: Media Connect Partners