Building Customer Relationships
When it comes to avoiding potential disagreements, late payments and problems in your business, superior customer service and establishing trustworthy customer relationships are critical. If a discrepancy does happen to arise, a strong relationship with effective communication can eliminate time consuming disagreements and save your company time and money.
Keep in mind that building trust with your customers has changed greatly over the last decade. With the rise of social media, 24-hour a day communication with mobile devices and new technology, customers can see, hear and complain in a variety of ways at the click of a button. Social media allows your customers to not only see your brand, but see you and your staff at a very personal level. These new communication channels have made customer relationships more dynamic and at times more complex.
Here are several keys to establishing strong, trustworthy, effective relationships that can withstand even the ugliest corporate disagreements.
Key # 1 – Never discount the power of the first impression.
First impressions, though perhaps not always accurate, are still first impressions. Remember that first impressions these days may not be a handshake in your corporate conference room. Today first impressions can happen on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media. So before you post that photo of you from the weekend with a lampshade on your head, be sure to check your social media privacy settings or refrain from posting at all.
Key # 2 – Building Your Team
The way your team is coached and trained to interface with customers and potential customers is critical. The sales team, customer service reps, management and even the receptionist are important pieces of the puzzle. If one piece of the puzzle is broken the entire relationship with your customer could suffer.
- Train your staff- not just on your product lines, but on how to respond to questions, problems and concerns presented by the customer. Handling a complaint or problem with a calm, informed attitude can be the key to an efficient solution. Be sure that every employee knows how to effectively communicate verbally and technologically. Good training helps your sales representatives to make decisions without continually, “talking to the boss.”
- Customers need quality products, but they also need quality service. The best product around with lousy customer service is better left on the shelf. Kindness, patience, efficiency, a listening ear, attention to detail and accurate management of communication and records is critical to top-notch customer service.
- Train your staff to believe in your brand. A “wishy-washy” sales pitch that’s lacking enthusiasm and product details will surely lose a potential sale. Providing your employees with incentives, training and access to important tools will assist them in believing in your brand.
Key # 3 – The Value of Customer Relationship Management Software
Almost every business from the storefront “mom and pop” to a multi-million dollar corporation has some sort of database to manage their customers. But tracking too little information or the wrong information reduces productivity and doesn’t really assist your sales or support staff in servicing the customer. Select a customer relationship management software suite that allows you to not only track customer histories and manage sales records, but one that provides detailed reporting and tracks customer behaviors. Knowing your customer’s birthday might wow them, but if you don’t have critical information about their product purchases, trends and pricing, knowing their birthday won’t close the deal.
Key # 4 – Know Your Customer In Advance
Helpful resources like Knowourcustomers.com created by EIS provides a fast and easy way for companies to ” Know Your Customers” in advance of entering into any business agreement. The online services allows your business to search a customer and see any issues that they may have had in the past with other service providers before you elect to do business with them. You’ll know if they did not pay a past bill or are notoriously a slow pay. Utilizing services like knowyourcustomer.com can assist your company in making smart partnerships with stable, trustworthy companies rather than reaching a potential impasse with a customer due to a collection issue or late payment.