Many people start companies to make a quick buck or big bucks. But without good customer relations, this is unlikely to happen. Customers who do not feel valued often move on to other alternatives. As a result, building a customer base represents one obstacle, but keeping customers is the next.
Understanding Employees are Customers Too
Just as buyers are a company’s external customer base, employees represent internal customers. To keep external customers happy, the best place to start is with employees. A cranky cashier or grumpy customer service rep means an unhappy customer, regardless of a company’s best intentions. This is the easiest way to earn bad reviews and terrible feedback.
Keep employees happy by improving communication channels to and from management, and extending some of the same benefits that customers get for continued business. For instance, provide discount services, competitive compensation packages, and the opportunity for all grievances to be heard and fairly handled.
Match the Communication Style of Your Customer Base
If most customers a business serves are elderly, restricting communication to social media and email to keep up with the times might prove ineffective. Likewise, when dealing with a younger millennial generation, requiring customers to arrive in person to solve problems won’t keep their business for long.
Provide communication options for customers based on how that customer base generally functions. This helps make communication convenient, saving the brand from suffering online trolling when problems are not resolved quickly and efficiently. It also builds a bond between them and the company, as customers relate better to the brand.
A lot of shady businesses operate online and off with big promises and small deliveries. Companies with a long history of experience in the business already overcame this obstacle, for the most part. However new businesses must prove themselves and then work to maintain that trust by avoiding scandal.
To build trust, companies should become certified and licensed in the field it operates. If the business itself cannot do this, then execs and key personnel should do so, and display their credentials where the public can see them.
This is why many businesses, especially those providing services, display the credentials of their executive body on the website for all to see. It also explains why many professionals hang their awards, certifications, and degrees up on the wall in their office.
Make Customer Problems a Company Problem
Leaving problems unresolved is often the cause of many a business scandal. One report becomes many and before long an entire group is formed of people clamoring about the same problem. In time, what likely only affected 20 people within a 100-mile radius begins to look like a nationwide problem. This reflects poorly on the company.
To prevent this, make each customer problem a company problem by properly training managers and customer service reps to handle issues quickly and effectively. Customer service reps should also show empathy, and offer assistance where possible even if it turns out that the company is not to blame.
Companies like Electronic Arts and PayPal follow this principle, which explains their success as leaders in their fields. Regardless of the reason, the Sims game can’t work, EA knows helping a customer to play means future purchases of expansion packs, as opposed to a returned game. And PayPal knows getting a customer paid is the difference between continued use of their services and opting for checks instead.
Building a strong rapport with customers helps grow business. It also helps customers and smaller businesses grow with your company. As a result, never neglect the opportunity to improve relationships with customers; whether they work for you, or buy from you.