Building Close Customer Relationships in the Time of Social Distancing
The relationship you have with your customers is your most valuable asset. Hands down.
And during this crisis, business owners have learned this lesson the hard way. People haven’t magically stopped buying things — far from it! They just became way more selective about who to trust with their money.
Now more than ever, your customers need to know that you value them. That you’re going to treat them well. That you have their best interests at heart. That they can count on you.
So: how can you prove all this to your customers? That’s exactly what we’re going to cover today.
In this week’s article, you will learn:
- The most effective way to start your customer relationships off on the right foot.
- Specific ways to encourage and reward customers who interact with your brand.
- What you can learn from non-buyers and customers who cancel on you.
And more. Let’s dig in!
(Would you prefer to listen to this week’s article instead of reading it? Click here to jump to the audio version!)
1. Be proactive and make the first move
You might say, “Summer, this sounds like dating advice!” And it kind of does, doesn’t it? Well, however it sounds, it works.
If you want customers to trust you, don’t wait until they magically come around. Take initiative and start building goodwill with your market right away. Think about how you can support your customers during this crisis, and implement it in your business — no strings attached.
Depending on what you sell and what your market needs, this can look any number of ways. For example…
If you run an ecommerce brand, you could make shipping on all orders free until the pandemic is over.
If you have a “software-as-a-service” business, you could:
- Extend your free trial from 30 to 60 days.
- Create a free plan to make your offer more accessible.
- Expand the features on your paid plans at no extra cost.
- Upgrade your customers to a better plan for free.
If you’re a service provider, you might give new clients free access to some value-adds that normally cost extra.
You get the idea.
These simple gestures don’t cost you all that much, but they send a powerful message that says, “I know you’re struggling — here’s how I can help you.”
Your audience will remember that, and they will return the favor. It’s called the law of reciprocity, and it’s amazingly effective in business and marketing.
2. Add a personal touch to your customer onboarding
A great onboarding process can turn a one-off buyer into a loyal customer for life — and in the current crisis, it matters more than ever.
When a prospect becomes a paying customer, some business owners see it as permission to stop investing in the relationship. Here’s a free tip: don’t be like that.
When money changes hands, this is your cue to invest in the relationship more! It was important pre-COVID, and it’s downright essential now. Put out all the stops: find ways to delight your customer, add value to them, and shower them with personal attention.
Here’s one way to start doing that right now.
Send a short 20-30 second video to every new customer where you thank them by name for choosing your product or service and invite them to connect.
You can record it yourself, or ask someone on your team to do it — like the support rep assigned to that customer, or the salesperson they’ve been in contact with.
You might say, “Summer, but it’s not automated! It doesn’t scale!”
You’re right: it isn’t, and it doesn’t. That’s the whole point! Of course you can use a regular automated message… but it won’t be nearly as memorable.
If you want to build lasting, solid relationships with your customers, you have to be willing to do the hard work that doesn’t scale. Or you can look for shortcuts and learn to live with lower customer lifetime value and loyalty.
3. Create more opportunities for interaction — and reward it
You know that feeling when someone you barely know contacts you out of the blue… and you instantly know that they want something from you? How do you know? Because every other time they had reached out, they also wanted something!
And yet, that’s how many brands communicate with customers — just hit-and-run sales pitches, every time. That was never a good strategy, but in this crisis it’s almost useless.
Communication is a two-way street, and you want to make it flow freely between you and your customers.
For starters, focus on those who already interact with you on a regular basis.
You can use transient content like social media Stories and live streams to do giveaways or time-sensitive promotions for the most active segment of your audience. This is a great way to reward their engagement — and encourage them to interact with your brand even more. And as a bonus, it will entice lower-engagement followers to interact with you more closely!
For your next step, open up more lines of communication with your customers. For example…
You can add calls to action to your emails, asking subscribers to reply with questions or comments. Put these in the P.S. at the very end of your emails, so they don’t distract from the main calls to action. You can also add short surveys to your website to get feedback from visitors, or even a live chat to interact with them.
4. Learn from non-buyers and customers who leave
When a prospect you thought was a sure thing doesn’t buy, it hurts a little. And when a long-time customer cancels on you, it hurts even more — especially now!
But if you look past it, you will see that every event like this is a valuable opportunity to improve. Customers who don’t buy, cancel, or just leave can teach you what nobody else can — and that’s how to retain your other customers longer.
To help you understand just how valuable this can be, I’ll give you just one stat:
According to a study by Bain & Company, even a 5% boost in customer retention can increase your profits in the long run by as much as 95%!
Convinced yet? Great! Here’s what you need to do…
Follow up with non-buyers and ask them why they didn’t buy your product or service. You can have it as an open-ended question, or set up a simple 5-minute survey for them to complete.
Do the same for customers who cancel on you or stop buying. If possible, you can even get them on the phone to discuss why they’re leaving now. Just make it super clear that you’re not trying to change their mind — just looking for valuable feedback.
Then, use these insights to improve your business, and how you interact with customers.
Remember: every business is a relationship business
Spoiler alert: the best thing you can do to build close relationships with your customers is… treating them like real relationships. Because they are!
Relationship building is not a numbers game, even though it looks like it sometimes. It doesn’t matter how many customers you have: hundreds, thousands, or millions. The basic principle remains the same at any scale.
In every interaction, never forget that there’s a real person on the other end. Listen to their needs, do your best to meet them, find ways to go above and beyond — and you’ll have yourself a customer for life.
Engage and convert your ideal customers with a powerful Elevator Pitch
What if you could take any prospect from knowing nothing about your brand — to practically begging you to tell them more… in 30 seconds or less?
That’s the power of a great Elevator Pitch. Learn how you can get yours here