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In the modern world, relationships are more important but more complicated than ever. Social media means that we form relationships with people that we’ve never met. It means that we feel connected to our favourite celebrities and brands, even without contact. Communication is available in many different forms, and it’s easier than ever before to get in touch with people.
But it is fast-moving. Our social media feeds are changing at lightning speed, our email inboxes are filling up daily, and even though it’s easier than ever to send a message, it’s often harder to convey meaning without face to face contact and easier to be overwhelmed and miss things entirely. It’s easier than ever to talk, but it’s also easier to be misunderstood and harder to hear.
This can make it very hard for businesses. Today’s consumers expect relationships with the people that they shop with. They don’t just want to be able to make an easy purchase. They want communication, relationships, advice and responses. They want to be able to ask a question at any time of day and get an immediate reply.
For a smaller business without a large team to help, this can prove tricky. You might be wondering How Connected Are You As A Business? In this modern world connectivity is everything, and building relationships with your customers is more important than ever. Here are some ways that you can begin to improve these relationships.
Make Sure It Is Easy For Them to Get In Touch
Everyone uses social media to communicate today, right? Well, actually no. If your target market is primary people in their teens and twenties, they might, but even then, chances are they are using newer platforms like TikTok instead of good old Facebook. If your customers are older, they might still prefer to speak to you over the phone. Every now and then you may even receive a letter.
It’s impossible to know how people prefer to communicate. You can do your research, but even within demographics, the results can vary wildly. The best thing that you can do is give people options. Make sure contact details like your phone number, email, address and social media channels are clearly displayed on your website, but also in any offline marketing materials and on invoices. A simple contact form online can also be hugely effective. Make it as easy as possible by giving your customers options, and make sure you respond to all types of communication, not just those that you prefer to use.
Follow-ups are important. Generally, customers won’t get in touch if there’s a problem, and they are even less likely to get in touch if they are happy with products or services. They walk away from your store, or checkout online and you never hear from them again.
Have a business policy to follow up sales, enquiries and other communications within a certain time. This can just be a quick email or call to make sure everything is going well and to ask if there’s anything that you can help with. This not only boosts relationships, but it also gives you a perfect opportunity to ask for feedback and a chance to make further sales.
Make Customer Service a Priority
Customer service is the most crucial ingredient when it comes to building positive relationships with your customers. It should be something that you insist upon from your staff, and that you spend time training in. Go the extra mile for customers when you can, greet them warmly in-store and take the time to get to know them. Customers should always leave your store happy, with something positive to take away, even if they don’t make a purchase.
Online, customer service is just as important. An easy to use website, fast transactions, easy to find information and clear policies go a long way. Clear communication, fast replies, and a personal touch, with a handwritten note with purchases, or a personal thank you online can also help.
Value Honesty Above All Else
Honesty is so essential when it comes to building relationships and offering excellent customer service. If something is wrong, or a delivery is going to be late; If you can’t deliver the product or service that has been ordered, or changes need to be made, you need to be honest about it.
It can be tempting to hide away when something is wrong, out of fear of letting people down, or conflict. But, most of the time, people would much rather know the truth, and they’ll respect you more for being honest with them. You are more likely to damage future relationships by lying, or not saying anything at all. As soon as you know that there’s a problem, think of ways to make it better, get in touch with your customers and offer them some alternative options. Being proactive like this can even turn a negative into a positive.
Being realistic is a big part of being honest. You should always aim to under-promise and over-deliver. It’s much better than the other way around. Don’t promise to deliver the next day if it’s not feasible. Don’t offer great deals if you can’t keep it up. Give your customers realistic expectations and set yourself realistic goals, and it will be easier to keep everyone happy.
Ask for Feedback
You can’t keep everyone happy all of the time. Your customers won’t always want the same from you, and you would drive yourself mad, trying to give absolutely everyone what they want. But, knowing what they want is a great start. Ask them. Ask your customers what you are doing well, what you could improve, how they feel about your relationship, how they like to communicate and other basic questions. You can do this on social media, with an email survey, with poles and even face to face.
Asking them for feedback is a great way to make them feel valued and appreciated. Another is simply saying thank you. Loyalty schemes can be another way to boost relationships and acknowledge loyalty.