If you’re looking to build relationships with customers – not just sell to them, you’re on the way to business success. Once customers believe that you’re aligned with their needs, they’ll stick with you through thick and thin, and they’ll even tolerate your mistakes. So how can you share the love and build real connections with people?
What is it that keeps your customers coming back for more? Your first reaction is probably that it’s your products and services. But is that what’s going on fundamentally, or is there something deeper happening at the root of your interactions?
The fact is, the customer journey is all about connection. People use certain businesses because they make them feel good. It’s less to do with the utility that their products offer and more about their emotional life when they’re around a certain brand.
If you’ve never created this before as a business owner, let it be known that it’s a remarkable process! You will go from being a business struggling with retention to a company that can’t keep up with providing services to those who want them.
The difference in your outlook will change too. Once you start to build relationships with customers, you suddenly find that you’re energised and pumped to go to work every day. You’re not fighting to win business, you’re indulging in value with your clients.
That’s the reason most of us start our own businesses anyway. Building relationships with customers is a way to achieve that. This priority will boost your income for sure, but it will also give you something much more valuable – a sense of mission.
Build relationships with customers by following these 6 tips
#1 – Build relationships with customers by being emotional
It might sound strange to say that you should be emotional in business, but people can really feel it. Everyone knows the difference between a person who is going through the motions, and somebody who genuinely wants to serve. Think about how it felt the last time you were in the presence of somebody who really wanted to improve your life – paid or not.
It was a different experience, right? You had a sense that they were on your side. They were willing to do whatever it took to see you through. You didn’t have a voice in the back of your head saying, “this person is only after my money.” That’s what you want your business to feel like for your customers. It has to be a genuine, authentic experience. People need to be able to trust you.
But how do you build a business like that?
You can’t fake it. It has to come from your genuine emotions from within. You have to believe that you’re offering people value. And you have to genuinely want them to succeed. You have to make them feel heard.
Successful people recognise that life is all about serving others. It sounds like a road to enslavement, but it’s actually the path to freedom. The more value you deliver emotionally, the more people will naturally gravitate to your enterprise. They’ll want to hand over their money. And they’ll be willing to pay much more for your services than your rivals.
#2 – Recognise That Money Is A Boomerang
Going into business to get money is putting the cart before the horse. It’s the wrong way of thinking about it. Money is something that comes around only after you generate value. It’s a bit like a boomerang in that sense. You push out value into the world, and value comes right back around.
A lot of entrepreneurs get into the habit of watching every penny coming into their business and judging themselves against their rivals. They believe that they have to squeeze costs and maximize revenues however they can to get more cash. Now, nobody is denying that cash flow is important. But you’re the master of your business and you decide how you spend money.
Sometimes, it’s not about the sums building up in your bank account – it’s about the fun that you’re having. And your customers can feel that. They know instinctively when you’re holding back the quality of your services. And that’s when the connection starts to break down.
Ideally, you want to put yourself in an emotional place where you want to give more than you receive. Don’t underestimate the power of reciprocity in human relationships. It’s remarkable what simple changes in your business practices and attitudes can do to get customers truly thrilled about spending their money with you. It’s the experience that counts.
#3 – Make It Personal
Being aggressive when selling is one of the best ways to put people off. Why would a company need to push a product or service if it’s good? That’s always the questions that customers are asking themselves, whether they’re aware of it or not.
Making your marketing personal, however, can radically change the dynamic. You see companies doing this all the time with promotional bags and personalised emails. When you focus your communications on the needs of the customer and not the product you’re trying to sell, the sale seems to happen almost automatically.
Remember, nobody really likes a salesperson. What they want is somebody who can solve their problems. You need to be that person.
#4 – Grow With Your Current Clients
A lot of businesses believe that the only way they can be successful is to massively ramp up their customer base as quickly as they can. And for some business models, that works. But, for most, the best strategy is to build relationships with customers and provide massive value to your existing clients.
When you’re first growing a business, what you want more than anything is a tribe. The goal should be to collect a group of core people who will stick with you no matter what happens as you grow.
This approach does two things. First, it provides your business with security. You need a base of happy, paying customers so you can pay your bills.
But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it creates brand ambassadors. These are people who will go out onto the internet and actually spread the message about how great your business is.
Growing with your current clients, therefore, is one of the best ways to develop real connections. You want to focus on their needs 100 percent. That way, people viewing your business from the outside will see the value and want to be a part of the show themselves.
#5 – Be Appreciative
Being appreciative might sound a little odd to some business owners. After all, you’re giving up your time to serve your customers. It’s a transaction, right? Well, perhaps economically. But emotionally, it’s something quite different and being appreciative goes a long way when you want to build relationships with customers.
When you appreciate your customers, you’re creating an atmosphere of gratitude. You’re not just engaged in some cold, calculating transactions with your clients. You’re doing something different.
How do you show people you appreciate them? Simple. The first is to invest in them emotionally. You want to show them that you can see their needs and that you understand them. Fundamentally, that’s all people want – a sense that you can recognize their pain.
The second is to actually give them a token of your appreciation. This could be pretty much anything you can think of, from a thank you email to a gift in the post. How you approach it depends very much on your brand. Some companies like to offer extras or special deals. Others go down the discount route. It’s up to you how you approach it. What you do will depend on your industry.
#6 – Respond To Your Customers’ Concerns
No matter how successful your business, your customers will still have concerns. The trick here is availability. Clients often don’t mind snags, so long as you’re there to help guide them through them.
Think about the experiences that you’ve had with brands in the past. If there were always customer service reps available to help you when you got stuck, you didn’t mind so much that you had to call them up. So long as there was somebody there to support you, you accepted it.
Responding to customer concerns in a helpful and mature way is something that a lot of top brands who build relationships with customers do proactively via social media. If there’s an issue with their services, they’ll put up a post explaining what’s going on immediately to keep people in the loop.
For instance, some of Google’s services recently went down for a few hours. People couldn’t access their Gmail accounts. The company, therefore, put out communication on its social media channels explaining the difficulty and what was being done about it.
You can also respond to general feedback that you get from customers publicly. For instance, if there’s a certain product feature they want you to improve, you can post on social media that you’re working on it. Don’t underestimate the power of this kind of communication.
When customers feel like you’re listening to them, they will often give you the benefit of the doubt. It tells them that you’re working in their best interests, not necessarily your own. So that’s how you can share the love in your business and build relationships with customers. In short, it’s all about giving.