We tend to move from small talk into a relationship when time together and conversation is easy. And casual relationships become longer-lasting relationships when we can depend on them.
It’s no different with business. Long-term customer relationships don't happen overnight. They begin the first time a customer engages with your business and continue with each interaction. That includes everything from those pesky retargeting ads that follow a person around the web to the buying experience. With any luck, you've thought through each of these interactions along the customer's journey.
A key moment in your company's relationship with a customer is when they contact you for support. Easy, great support experiences extend the life of a customer's relationship with your company.
What's more, satisfaction is a good predictor of repeat business. Loyalty surveys show that 78 percent of satisfied customers spread the word about brands they love. And 54 percent won't even consider switching to a competitor. But key to satisfaction is providing quality, personalized service.
According to IDC, here are three ways companies can do just that. To build strong customer relationships and brand loyalty, organizations must:
1. Meet customers across multiple channels
Customer preferences evolve alongside technology and businesses need to keep up. You’ve got to first identify which channels your customers prefer to use, and then meet them there. Make it easy for the customer to reach you in each channel where you provide support, but also consider the experience as customers move from channel to channel. From their point of view, the process should be seamless.
2. Be knowledgeable about customers
In our personal relationships, it’s easy to pick up conversations with friends right where we last left them, no matter whether it was by the phone or via Facebook Messenger. So why should customers expect any less?
Having to repeat an order number to multiple agents, for example, is bound to grate on anyone’s nerves. That's why providing agents with context about the customer is helpful. The more agents know from the get-go, the better. They'll be equipped to provide a more personal interaction and more quickly solve the issue at hand.
3. Treat customers like humans
It’s easy to get wrapped up in selling a product and to forget to treat customers like actual humans. Good relationships are built on authentic conversation, and good customer experiences are too. Transparency creates an open relationship between your business and your customers, allowing your brand to build trust.
So rather than viewing customer interactions as transactional, ask yourself: What ongoing interactions are happening, and how can they be improved?
For more on building loyalty and providing a great customer experience, download your copy of IDC’s research report.