Building great customer relations is crucial for every business, yet the term is often misunderstood. It’s easy to see why. With so many other customer-related terms in use, there's a lot to keep up with!
For instance, 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, don't worry. In this article, we'll be providing you with the answers and teaching you how to build the best customer relationships.
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.
Customer relations is an umbrella term that describes the way a company aims to improve the customer experience through communication.
For example, a company that seeks customer feedback and is responsive to customer queries is seen as having good customer relations.
Conversely, a business that ignores customers and provides poor customer service will be seen as having bad customer relations.
The purpose of building good customer relationships is achieving a higher level of customer satisfaction. Greater customer satisfaction means more sales, growth, and loyalty.
However, this is not the only reason a business will seek to improve customer relations. Strengthening customer relationships can also be a company’s goal in it's own right. It helps the customer to see that their business is appreciated.
Good customer relations are achieved when businesses are communicative and engaging enough to sustain a long-term relationship with their customers.
This is usually achieved by offering great customer service and proving receptive to customer feedback.
Another way businesses improve these relationships is through added-value content that furthers customer engagement. Examples of this might include social media conversations, blog-posts, and videos, as well as gifts, giveaways, and competitions.
Not exactly. While the term customer relations does encompass a company’s efforts to solve its customers’ problems, customer service is generally used to describe one-to-one interactions. Customer relations generally describes a business’s relationship with its customers as a whole.
For example, say a customer complains about a delivery being late. This is a customer service issue. However, if the company doesn’t acknowledge the complaint because they routinely demonstrate poor response times, it then becomes a customer relations issue.
This is not a good look for any business. To fix this customer relations issue, the company must change the way their staff acts and communicates with their customers. They might do this by retraining their staff and making a commitment to being more receptive to customer feedback.
Customer experience is the impression a customer develops of your business as a whole, from the beginning of their customer journey, right through to the use of your product or service. So while customer 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 customer experience. If a business’s customer relationships are a priority, the customer experience will obviously benefit. However, there’s a lot more steps required to ensure a fantastic customer experience overall.
The key factors to building positive customer relationships are as follows:
By focussing on the above key factors, businesses can ensure long-term relationships with high satisfaction, retention, and growth.
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 improve these relationships for your business.
It’s not just the customer service department that needs to focus on the customer. Ultimately, whatever the size of your business, your customer must be your number one priority.
In fact, research proves that customer-focussed companies are 60% more profitable than other businesses.
A great way to create a customer-focussed culture is to research buyer personas. Research who your customers really are and what problems they are solving by buying from you.
If you’re able to create buyer personas and understand the demographics you’re 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 startup 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, if you are a retailer targeting older markets, more traditional contact channels like inbound calls will probably be a priority.
Either way, by understanding who your customers are, you can train your staff to start thinking with your ideal audience in mind. It’ll help everything that follows fall into place.
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 key. This is no less true online than it is in store.
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 queries and interactions, customer service can become neglected.
Thankfully, there are plenty of tools now available to help you offer the best customer service both night and day. For instance, ecommerce chatbots can be used to field common customer queries 24/7.
For more in depth queries and questions, live chat enables you to interact with your customers in real-time with lightning fast speed. It means that customer queries and concerns can be settled quickly, instilling full confidence in your customers.
Some companies now incorporate video chat for customer service too. By giving their website customers a chance to speak face-to-face, businesses who adopt video chat are making sure they deliver the same level of customer service online as they would in store.
In truth, there’s never been a better time for businesses to be online. When using a customer service platform, it’s never been easier to provide the best customer service either.
According to SurveyMonkey research, 91% of customers want businesses to use customer opinions and insights when looking to improve. It’s proof that asking for customer feedback is a crucial part of improving customer relations.
By using website engagement tools like surveys and feedback collection forms, you’re signalling to your customers that you respect their opinions, wants, and needs. The most important thing to remember when asking for feedback is supplying proof that you’re actually 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 actually deliver.
The great news is that customers love seeing updates on the positive changes businesses make - whether they are improving the customer experience in general or simply celebrating a worthy cause.
The easiest way to strengthen your customer relationships today is to start asking your customers questions. Once you’ve weighed up their suggestions and implemented the most appropriate, you can expect customer satisfaction and your reputation to soar.
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.
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.
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 a positive reputation.
Not only is showing appreciation for your customers the polite thing to do, it’s also one of the most important factors in strengthening customer relationships. In fact, 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’s many more ways you can show customers your true appreciation.
These days, the businesses with the best customer relationships know how to excite their customers with competitions, giveaways, and surprises that spark delight. Even positive or inspiring social media messages have been known to make a customer’s day.
If a brand delivers a memorable experience, customers are far more likely to return again and again. 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 a great 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 customer 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.
Think about the last time a brand surprised you by showing their appreciation. If they gave you a free 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 customers feel the same way.
Ultimately, the companies with the strongest customer relations have ensured their success by prioritizing communication at the heart of their operations.
Rather than being a solely profit-focussed business, customer-focussed organisations are always striving to provide the best experience and service overall.
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 a customer yourself. 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 great customer service, be responsive to feedback, and engage with your customers as much as possible. The rewards for your business are worth it.
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