What is Customer Relations? Your Questions Answered

November 21, 2022
Customer and business shaking hands

Don’t worry. It’s not just you. 

With so many customer-related buzzwords floating around online, we know how hard it is to keep track.

For instance, building fantastic customer relations might be incredibly important for your business. 

But what's the difference between customer relations and customer service?

How about customer experience? What's the difference there?

If you're struggling with these questions, you’re in the right place. In this article, you'll learn:

  • An accurate customer relations definition
  • What creating positive customer relationships entails - for your customer support team and your customers
  • How positive customer relations can create loyal customers
  • How to build strong customer relations for your brand

Let's get started.

A customer and contact center agent talking

The most common customer relations questions

Before jumping into the discussion of how you can build the best customer relations, let's get a good understanding of the term once and for all.

Here are the answers to your most common questions.

What is customer relations?

Customer relations is an umbrella term that describes how a company aims to improve the customer experience through communication. 

For example, a company that seeks customer feedback and is responsive to customer queries has built a positive customer relationship.

Conversely, a company that provides poor service during customer interactions is neglecting their customer relations.

What is the purpose of building positive relationships?

Building great customer relations help improve levels of customer satisfaction and increase customer loyalty.‍

However, this is not the only reason a company will seek to improve customer relations.

Strengthening customer relations can also be used to show appreciation.

Showing gratitude through a positive experience will only make customers feel more valued - once again improving loyalty. 

A customer using a smartphone and laptop

What are ‘good’ customer relations?

Businesses that achieve positive customer relations have proved communicative and engaging enough to sustain a long-term relationship with their customers. 

In essence, the brand has used a variety of tactics to keep its customers happy. These tactics often include:

  • Offering fantastic support
  • Proving receptive to customer feedback through active listening
  • Offering personalized experiences
  • Solving customer problems    
  • Providing a loyalty program
  • Prioritising human interactions while also offering adequate self-service options

Another way businesses improve their relationships is through added-value content that furthers customer engagement.

Examples of this kind of content can include social media conversations, blog posts, and videos, as well as gifts, giveaways, and competitions.

What is customer relationship management?

Customer relationship management (CRM) is the act of managing customer relations over time.

Within many companies, a customer relationship manager is considered a crucial role.

That said, many employees might also contribute towards this area of work by using CRM software. Take contact centre agents, for example.

Managing customer relations includes creating long-term strategies in line with the business’s goals. These goals can include:

  • Improving customer acquisition levels and processes
  • Building relationships with newly acquired customers
  • Creating and maintaining customer records through data-gathering strategies (e.g., surveys)
  • Monitoring the success of marketing campaigns to see which methods perform best with which customers
Magnet attraction customers

Is customer relations the same as customer service?

Not exactly.

While the term customer relations does encompass a company’s efforts to solve its customer issues, the phrase customer service describes reactive one-to-one interactions involving a support team.

Customer relations encompasses a business’s relationship with its customers as a whole.

For example, say a customer complains to a company about a late delivery. This is a customer service issue.

However, if the company doesn’t acknowledge the complaint because they routinely demonstrate poor response times, this can affect customer perception and become a relations issue instead.

This is not a good look for any business.

Is customer relations the same as customer experience? 

The term customer experience refers to the entire journey your customer follows when learning about, purchasing, and using your product or service. 

So while building relations is linked with customer experience, they are not the same thing.

In essence, good customer relations and good customer service are all part of the customers' experience.

If a business’s customer relations are a priority, the customer experience will benefit.

However, there are a lot more steps required to ensure a fantastic and seamless customer experience overall. These can include:

  • Fantastic customer support
  • A smooth and pain-free customer journey
  • Appropriate customer contact channels to complement that journey
  • Personalized interactions
  • A dedication to customer success
  • Additional content that aligns with your target audience
Customer and contact agent smiling

Can a bad customer experience damage customer relations?

It can indeed.

In fact, it can push many types of customers away, affecting their future buying decisions and the ease with which you can build a loyal customer base.

For instance, repeat customers are less likely to return after a poor customer experience.

New customers are less likely to convert if they've only heard negative opinions about the brand.

To fix this relations issue, the company must change the way their staff acts and communicates with their customers.

They might do this in several ways. For example, they could prioritize employee training and adopt new communication channels.

What's a good example of a company with excellent customer relations?

Streaming giant Netflix is a great example of a brand that's created millions of happy customers while consistently maintaining great relationships.

Netflix consistently ranks high on satisfaction surveys through their dedication to providing a personalized and convenient product.

In effect, their user recommendations are a form of customer engagement too. With thousands of titles on offer, they're constantly providing value to their customers.

What's more, Netflix is well-versed in engaging customers outside of their platform too.

For example, Netflix uses social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram to significant effect.

On Twitter, they keep their fans updated on new releases and offer fun posts to engage their followers.

They also run a Twitter support account. 

This keeps their main account focused on customer engagement, while their secondary account focuses on providing social media customer support.

Meanwhile, Netflix's Instagram accounts offer quizzes, videos, and games, as well as behind the scenes photos and videos of their productions.

It's another way Netflix can exceed customer expectations with additional content.

What are the keys to building positive customer relations?

The key factors to building positive relationships are as follows:

1. A business must offer excellent customer service and support

If your service and support team are ill-equipped in solving problems, you'll never build mutually beneficial relationships with your core audience.

2. A business must prove itself to be receptive to customer feedback

Building strong customer relations involves conversation and discussion.

Companies that rely too heavily on time-savers like self-service channels or canned responses limit their ability to learn and grow.

3. A business must show appreciation for their customers

While building trust with your customers is vital for any modern business, the same is true of showing gratitude.

With so many competing businesses on the market, demonstrating appreciation goes a long way towards increasing customer retention and improving customer loyalty.

Video shopping interaction via smartphone

How do you improve customer relations?

Now that we’ve explored the key factors of building positive customer relations, let’s break things down a little further.

Here’s how you can create a mutually beneficial relationship between you and your customers.

1. Create a customer-focused culture

It’s not just your support department that needs to focus on the customer.

Whatever the size of your business, your customers must be your number one priority. 

In fact, research proves that customer-focussed companies are 60% more profitable than other businesses! 

Tips for creating a customer-centric culture

A great way to introduce a customer-focused culture into your business is to research buyer personas.

Research who your customers are and what problems they are solving by buying from you. 

If you’re able to create buyer personas and understand the demographics your business is serving, you’ll then be able to build positive customer relations with ease.

After all, different customers will have different wants and needs. 

For example, if you are a customer-facing tech business that targets Millennials and Gen Z, it would be wise to invest in your social media output as one of your customer service and engagement channels. 

On the other hand, more traditional contact channels like inbound calls will probably be a priority if you are a retailer targeting older markets. 

Either way, by understanding your customers, you can train your staff to start thinking with your ideal audience in mind.

It’ll help everything that follows fall into place.

Contact agent in office

2. Prioritize your communication channels and your customer service team

89% of customers are more likely to return to businesses after experiencing great customer service.

It proves that whatever your demographic or industry, pitch-perfect customer service is vital for customer retention.

This is no less true online than it is in store. 

Tips for prioritizing your customer service efforts

As we’ve previously mentioned, the rise of technology means that building customer relationships is quicker and easier than ever before.

While this is hugely beneficial to all businesses, there is one potential setback: if a business isn’t prepared to deal with higher levels of customer requests and interactions, customer service can become neglected. 

Thankfully, plenty of contact channels are now available to help you offer the best customer service both night and day.

For instance, you can use customer service chatbots to field common customer queries 24/7. 

For more in-depth queries and questions, live chat lets you interact with your customers in real-time with lightning-fast speed.

It means that you can settle your customers' concerns quickly, instilling complete confidence in your customer support staff.

Some companies now incorporate video chat for customer service too.

By giving people a chance to speak face-to-face during customer interactions, businesses that adopt video chat make sure they deliver the same level of service online as in-store.

In truth, there’s never been a better time for businesses to be online.

When using a real-time engagement platform like Talkative, it’s never been easier to provide the best service to your customers. 

A customer on smartphone

3. Ask for feedback and examine customer satisfaction

According research, 91% of customers want businesses to use customer opinions and insights to improve.

It’s proof that asking for customer feedback is a crucial part of improving customer relations. 

Tips for gathering feedback from your customers

By using website engagement tools to collect feedback, you’re signalling that you respect their opinions, wants, and needs.

So, try out a customer satisfaction survey on your site.

Analyse your customer success levels too.

Just remember: the most important thing to remember when asking for feedback is supplying proof that you’re making changes for the better. 

For example, more and more customers now expect businesses to take a positive stance towards ethical and social dilemmas.

If a customer-facing company makes a promise to make a change of this kind, it’s crucial that they deliver.

The great news is that customers love seeing updates on the positive changes businesses make - whether they are improving the customers' experience in general or simply celebrating a worthy cause.

The easiest way to strengthen your customer relations today is to start asking your customers questions.

Once you’ve weighed up their suggestions and implemented the most appropriate, you can expect customer loyalty to soar. 

A smiling contact agent and customer

4. Leverage social media

54% of customers use social media to research products and services before buying - and this number is only growing.

For customer-facing businesses, it means that leveraging social media is essential for improving customer relationships and increasing customer loyalty.

Tips for improving your social media output

Whatever the platform, brands with the strongest customer relationships respond to social complaints and compliments in equal turn.

At the same time, they’ll be engaging, informative, and entertaining. 

It's why social media is so effective for creating loyal customers: it keeps engagement levels at a consistently high level.

To make sure you’re using social media to build better customer relationships, speak to your customers in a voice that’s authentic and caring.

Be fun and have conversations. By responding to their compliments, complaints, and queries, you’ll begin to build a loyal customer base and boost your customer satisfaction. 

Smartphone showing social media apps

5. Show appreciation

Not only is showing appreciation for your customers the polite thing to do, but it’s also one of the most important functions for creating strong customer relationships.

91% of customers state that they’re more likely to return to businesses that show appreciation for their customers. 

It’s proof that even a simple post-purchase thank you can go a long way.

Of course, there are many more ways you can show customers your genuine appreciation. 

Tips for showing appreciation to your customers

These days, the businesses with the highest satisfaction levels know how to excite their customers with competitions, giveaways, and surprises that spark delight.

Even positive or inspiring social media messages can make a customer's day.

If a brand consistently delivers memorable experiences, it's far easier to attain consistent customer loyalty in turn.

There’s a higher chance that they’ll share their positive experiences with their friends and family too - whether online or in person.

It’s another win for creating an excellent reputation around your brand. 

Whatever the size of your business, going the extra mile for your customers isn’t as hard as you might think.

Fantastic and personable service is one form of showing appreciation.

Offering discounts or giveaways is another.

Even asking for feedback or opinions is a form of appreciation. You’re proving to customers that you care. 

To get started in this area, think about the last time a brand surprised you by showing their appreciation.

If they gave you a gift, didn’t it improve your relationship with the brand?

And if you’ve never received an appreciative gift, wouldn’t you like to experience it yourself? 

Your existing customers feel the same way. 

Customer interactions being turned into sales via a funnel

The takeaway

Ultimately, the companies with the strongest relations have ensured their success by prioritising communication at the heart of their operations. 

Rather than being a solely profit-focused company, customer-focused organisations prioritize building long-term relationships.

They are constantly striving to provide the best experience for their customers.

It's never too late to start valuing your customers in this manner, and the easiest way to improve your customer relations is to start thinking like your customers.

  • How would you like to be spoken to as a customer?
  • Wouldn’t you praise a business that went the extra mile in terms of communication and respect? 

By reflecting on your own experiences - as well as other companies' successes - you're one step closer to achieving stronger customer relationships for your business.

The next step is putting these ideas into practice. 

Offer fantastic service and support, be responsive to feedback, and engage with your customers as much as possible.

The rewards are well worth it - both for your company and your customers.

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