Empathetic, expert and engaging customer service brings the greatest chance of profit and sustainability to your business by building a healthy relationship with your customers!
It’s true, but let’s explain what that means in practical terms.
Offering a quality product in attractive packaging is just not enough to gain customer loyalty as consumers look for intangible services that only a courteous and knowledgeable customer service can offer. Building and maintaining the customer relationship throughout the customer journey is essential in the longevity of your business.
A client may forget the product after its use but not the services provided by you (or your staff) at the time of purchase and beyond. Therefore, it is necessary to equip your business with the tools to provide a seamless and enjoyable customer journey.
For the purpose of this blog, we’ll try to separate out the building of relationships from developing the customer journey – but in practice, they are elements of the same, but for simplicity, let’s give it a go!
Building relationships with your clients / customers is one of the most important aspects of developing your business.
In recent years networking seems to have been the most successful activity in growing contact lists, building client bases and forming relationships, with networking being a powerful tool in your armoury!
Make the most out of networking for yourself and your business…
Start by attending lots of different groups, of different sizes, locations, single/mixed gender, and corporate/self-employed.
Once you have narrowed down what sort of networking groups and activities most suit you and your business then be sure to find as many of these types of group to explore.
Once you have attended groups that suit you (from 1 and 2 above) on a regular basis you will begin to know which of these groups/meetings are the most successful.
Now you know what groups and events to attend, make sure you check out the delegate list of each meeting or event in advance, and highlight those you would like to build a business relationship with.
Try and chat to as many people as possible at each meeting/event, however make sure you focus on those you have previously highlighted.
Always introduce yourself with a smile, handshake and a business card.
In conversation don’t focus on the sale. It is more important to focus on building meaningful business relationships, making useful contacts, and seeking new opportunities.
As well as using networking to gain contacts, build relationships, and eventually make sales, also use groups to build your confidence by offering to be a speaker.
A great thing about networking is that, as well as meeting new people, it also encourages referrals, which in turn encourages sales.
All of this, along with a beaming smile, leaves a lasting impression and makes you memorable! And you may not know it, but from your networking and other activities, your creating your ‘tribe’.
Your connections: make them and keep them…
The importance of social media in our society means that the importance of creating connections to promote your business have become increasingly important. Online connections can quite often be the starting point for more powerful offline relationships, those built face to face, and these are people that become your tribe and fans and follow what you do on a more regular basis.
Then regular touch points with these connections, online and offline, develop them from acquaintances to a long-term valuable business relationship, and even into friendships.
Connections support, empower and uplift you in your life and business. When connections develop into long-term valuable relationships, these people promote you.
Host an event – me?
Well yes, you. What better way to meet people and build relationships!
As an entrepreneur, being taken seriously can be a challenge, therefore it’s important to build up your credibility. Holding a business event is an increasingly viable way of doing this!
When you plan and sponsor an event, you’re suddenly transformed into a business leader. You’re responsible for bringing like-minded entrepreneurs together to talk business, and only a leader does that!
But don’t underestimate what’s involved in planning and hosting an event, it can be a difficult thing to pull off successfully – but if you do, you’ll reap the rewards for your business. Here are a few pointers:
Firstly, work out why you’re holding the event, when is the best time to hold it, who do you want to attend, what are you seeking to achieve and how are you going to achieve your goal!
Where will you hold the event – if you’ve answered the questions above, the venue requirements will fall into place.
What else will you need – decorations (flowers, balloons, table runners, etc), food and drink, DJ/music/audio equipment, screen/projector/laptop, photographer/videographer, guest Speakers/workshops/stands/etc, tables and chairs, banners, pens, promotional items, etc, event staff.
Promote, promote, promote – enough said!
It’s ok if you don’t know people who can help you pull together your event, as if you ask your current contacts directly, or on social media, most people are happy to provide recommendations.
OK, so what about the customer journey?
Creating leads and contacts is all well and good, but you need to ensure your customer journey is ‘up to scratch’ for maintain and developing those customer relationships.
Build up customer support skills:
Patience, stability and empathy – Customers might be irate at times. You must be well versed to handle their moods and to deliver friendly and patience service every time.
Treating customers fairly – It can be difficult giving every customer the time they deserve, especially when you can see a queue building up behind them. Implement a single line queue, so that if there is a delay with one customer being served, other customers in the queue can access the other open tills. Allowing customers to be served in the order they have arrived helps to eliminate queue rage and improves overall satisfaction.
Improve customer interactions – Pro-active communication. Clear signage can help convey important messages to your customers. Whether it is to communicate the latest sales promotion or whether you use signage for way finding. Customers are less anxious when they feel properly informed, and this helps improve the customer journey and helps boost loyalty to your business.
Follow-up after resolving an issue – Stay in touch with customers after fixing a problem. Increase satisfaction by sending them an email, feedback forms or making a phone call to ensure that the issue has been resolved.
Plan an efficient customer service strategy – Get personal. Interact with your customers to enhance your credibility. Keep your websites, social media pages and other interactive platforms updated and quickly respond to the queries and posts of customers.
Improving the customer journey can go a long way to building customer loyalty to your business, which in turn can boost your revenue and profitability. Ensuring your business has the correct tools to communicate with your customers will be key to your business success.