Build Lasting Relationships With Customers Using These 13 Tactics
This article was originally published in Forbes.
Customer retention and satisfaction are crucial for every company's success. If you want to increase sales, you’ll have to prioritize your relationships with consumers. That means paying attention to their wants and needs and marketing to them accordingly.
We asked a panel of Forbes Agency Council members about the most impressive relationship marketing tactics they've seen. Here’s what you can learn from their observations.
Members of Forbes Agency Council discuss relationship-building.PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS.
1. Include A Personal Touch
In the current business climate where every customer is bombarded with digital messaging, remember that a personal touch counts. Sure, you should send them targeted marketing materials, but also consider sending them a bottle of wine to enjoy with their spouse on their anniversary or a handwritten card on their birthday. Those small personal acts make a difference in building business relationships. - Jenni Smith, EGR International
2. Work With Them Through The Lows
The best customer relationships are built for the long haul. Initially, relationships are formed and begun based on results -- hopefully great results. Over time, as relationships deepen, they are solidified by how you respond to adversity or how you recover from a problem. Some of the deepest relationships I know are a result of working through the lows as well as the highs - Lon Otremba, Bidtellect
3. Put Client Interests Before Your Own
Each of your competitors will also claim they can bring as much value as you can, if not more. Our approach is to consider the best interest of the client before ours and to make sure they know that this is how we see our relationship with them. In some occasions, this could mean we don’t sell something or downsize our proposal if we determine that they are not ready. - Christophe Caïs, Customer Experience Group
4. Embrace And Impress Disgruntled Customers
A Nashville tech firm used to joke that their customer service made Comcast look good. They turned it around by inviting customers to Nashville -- one of the hottest tourist destinations in the country -- for an in-depth education on the company's products and a fun time in the city. Lesson learned: Embrace, don't hide from disgruntled customers and they'll become your biggest fans. - Jeff Bradford, the Bradford Group
5. Make It Easy To Relate To Your Brand
Today's savvy customers care about more than the product they're purchasing. They invest in and form long-lasting relationships with brands they identify with. To win customers over and stand out in a crowded marketplace, brands should think about what they want to represent, live those values and showcase to their communities that they do more than talk the talk -- gimmicks won't work. - Mae Cromwell, PACIFIC
6. Give Memorable Promotional Products
There's an episode of Entourage where Johnny Chase requests an odd soda from the cute office assistant and justifies it by saying that if you order something unique, you're more easily remembered. It works the other way, too. Just ask MailChimp. They built a die-hard customer base by randomly mailing out promotional items like t-shirts, beer koozies, wrestling belts, beanies for cats and more. - Michael Kilcullen, Social Report
7. Be As Generous As You Can
An insider tip is to turn down money -- be generous when you can. You can prove you're a partner by putting your client's needs first, even if it means buying the cheaper solution, spending less on advertising for the same outcome, etc. Working with us should be the best part of our clients' days. - Donnelly, REQ
8. Narrow Down Your Ideal Customer
When it comes to retaining customers, it's time to be honest with yourself. It's not about serving every prospect who walks in the door but serving the prospect you can help propel forward. If you want to retain more customers, start with getting picky about who you take on; assist them to the best of your ability and the rest will take care of itself. - Bernadette Coleman, Advice Local
9. Take Advantage Of Every Opportunity
There is no one more valuable to a brand than someone who not only loves your product but someone who talks about it. A brand can’t survive without authentic relationships built on mutual understanding, shared values and respect. To build these connections, brands need to actually connect with consumers, and understand their needs. Treat every company function as a relationship-building tool. - Brian Salzman, RQ
10. Engage Customers With Educational Content
Having no budget at all is a challenge, but in the digital era, it can be done. Create valuable content via social media, blogging, creating videos, hosting podcasts or designing infographics. Most importantly, help yourself by helping others. Provide useful information. By educating your audience on problems they care about, you grow your customer base and position yourself as the solution. - Cagan Sean Yuksel, GRAFX CO.
11. Create Exclusive Access Groups
Brands are using social media to create platforms and groups where only VIP or paid members are admitted. Exclusive content, apps and product "drops" send loyal customers into a frenzy and encourage them to spend to get the limited edition drop before it sells out because it's so exclusive. This is a fascinating trend in customer relationship building. - Brandon Stapper, Nonstop Signs
12. Build A Great Loyalty Program
Loyalty programs have been proclaimed by some experts as being overused and that they oversaturate the market. I disagree, and retail data shows that consumers have an insatiable appetite for points and rewards with brands they feel connected to. Engaging your customers in a meaningful dialogue and having them feel valued by sharing content on the brand's behalf is a powerful combination. - Wendy Karlyn, rightpoint.com
13. Just Be Human
Supporting and recognizing your clients’ personal successes as well as business wins in a genuine, honest way is the best way to forge lasting relationships. They have families, kids, personal pursuits and, for many, their jobs are just a means to enjoy those ends. If you “get” them, they’ll value the relationship beyond the great work you’re doing and take you with them on their next gig, too. - Jeff Majtyka, Ellipsis