How to Navigate Effective Customer Relationships in Business Today

A fine customer relationship is when customers have a consistent customer experience every time they interact with a business. Here's how to navigate effective customer relationships in business today.
Effective Customer Relationships

Don’t Propose on the First Date! How to Navigate Effective Customer Relationships in Business Today

Nobody wants to be proposed to on the first date! Picture the scene: a restaurant, candlelight, a pair of nervous first-time daters, and somewhere between the main course and the dessert one of them gets down on one knee and pulls out a ring….

Nooooo! This would have the proposed-to victim screaming, right? Running for the hills. This is too much, too soon. And even if the proposed-to likes the proposer and doesn’t immediately race to the door, this is never going to work! You’ve only just met! You know nothing about each other! This has been a bad move.

The same is true of business and building customer relationships. They need time to be nurtured and to grow. There’s nothing lasting, satisfying, or profitable about a quick hit sale or hasty deal made, which is going to tail off quicker than the smoke from a blown-out candle. Your business needs to excel in slow moves and measured steps because, as we know, when it comes to love and business, only fools rush in. 

So how can you avoid proposing on the first date, when it comes to attracting and holding onto customers? When is it best to start wooing potential clients and what issues should you consider? Why is a more softly, softly approach so important? When it comes effective customer relationship management, you need to be dating another way.

Don’t rush for a perfect match

All too often in business these days there’s a frantic urgency to making sales, attracting customers, sealing the deal. Businesses yell “Buy my products now!” and “You need me!” to people who may never have heard of them or what they do. There are in-your-face Facebook ads, sent to all and sundry, asking them to click and to buy, when the target audience has no clue who the business is and why they are being targeted. This approach doesn’t work. This approach does not win over customers. Of course, if you want to make a one-time sale and bombard enough customers to convert them into making that sale, then you’ll make money. But it doesn’t develop customer relationships, it doesn’t take customers on a journey with your business in the long term. Customers will forget about you as quickly as they bought from you. 

If you’re a big brand, it might not matter. You’ll have the cash and the power and the reach to target as many people as possible and blitz potential customers with your ads. Smaller businesses? This is not going to be useful for you. Random, scatter gun marketing will not be an effective use of your time or your budget. You have to think more carefully about where you’re going and the customers you might want to take with you.

It could also mean turning down a client who’s not right for you and not making a sale, with the goal of making a connection with a customer who will be with you all the way. Your introduction to a customer should be like a first date. Fostering a growing relationship could be encouraging repeat purchases or getting your customer to browse around your website. Groundwork must be put in place so this customer will start to buy other products and services from you and your relationship can grow. Just like dating used to be simpler, attracting and retaining your ideal customer is more difficult now, too, and less likely to result in marriage. But meaningful customer relationships can still be formed if you think smart.

Tell me about yourself…

Just like on a date, when it comes to your business goals, don’t just talk about yourself! Nobody wants a one-sided conversation about “Me, me, me” or, when it comes to forging customer relationships, “Buy this product now!” A conversation should be inclusive and even-handed – a proper dialogue. You not only say what you have to offer, but you also make an effort to find out about the other person. Their wants and needs, their pain points, what they’re looking for. What problems they need solutions to. Only then should you launch into exactly what you can provide. 

These are not things you can find out on a first date, unless it is one that lasts weeks or months; you need to invest in a longer period of time to find out who your customer is and what they want. This can be done in several ways: by examining data when customers land on your website or have made sales with you. By questionnaires or surveys. With loyalty programmes, customer valuation and personalization. 

Make more effort

Customers are more demanding these days, expecting each interaction to be better than the last, and loyalty is not built on one transaction but on several. Companies therefore need to make a greater effort, and flexibility and being nimble in the market is key. If a sudden promotion or price drop will pull in customers, do it. If you want to plan a weekend loyalty reward or a gift for your customers, go for it. Clients are not easily impressed in today’s market, so make sure you up your game and pull out all the stops. It will be worth it when you make a perfect match, time and time again. 

It's a two-way street, honey

Don’t rely on being a smooth talker with tricks up your sleeve. Streetwise daters (i.e. customers) can spot these tactics a mile off and can play you at your own game. In the past, business ethos was sometimes slanted towards companies “tricking” potential customers, reeling them in, luring and snaring them with fancy ads, utilizing persuasive strategies (like the soothing “musak” in supermarkets) and the use of sophisticated models to predict behaviour. In today’s world, customers are just as savvy as those they are being marketed by. They may adapt their buying behaviour because they know the pattern for future promotions. They may take up an introductory offer with a business because a great deal is offered, knowing full well they will bail straight afterwards. They may be fickle with their loyalty and completely open about that, as they know exactly where you’re coming from. How do you get on board with this kind of customer? Keep offering them better and better products and services! Make yourself irresistible and they’ll come running. They will choose you, even though they know you are both playing the game. 

Online dating: It’s tough out there…

If you propose on a first date, you’re going to get a bad review! As we all know, social media is huge, can be fantastic for businesses, but also can be dangerous. Customers can use their influence to bring positive or negative consequences to a business or can threaten to leave a bad review. The influence a client may have over others is a powerful tool and should not be underestimated - and influencers may be more important to you than the customers who buy your products - so you need to have strategies in place to deal with negativity, when it happens, and better the expectations of your clients wherever you can. Information is also shared without your knowledge, that’s the reality, but build into your business model both how to pre-empt it and face it head on when working on your customer relationship management. And if you’re a great date in business, you should get great feedback!

Bad romance: Ethics and personal data

Should a valuable client receive preferential treatment over a new one? Should everybody be treated the same whether they come with a small purse or large? Ethics are hard to get around these days, and rightly so. If you get your ethics wrong, someone will be waiting to pick up on it, especially online. 

Data collection and privacy are also huge concerns in the arena of customer relationship management. If data can’t be stored beyond a certain period of time, how do you get around that? Should there be legal limit to how personalized a service you provide? These are issues that need to be examined in detail when you are manging your customers and their information, and is all the more reason why “slow and steady wins the race” when it comes to wooing and keeping a customer. Your model must have ethics and the management of personal data considered, for you to survive and to thrive. 

Not everybody want you!

Some customers don’t have a particular loyalty to a particular brand, they just can’t be bothered to switch! They’re too lazy, it’s too much trouble. They have their habits and they’re sticking to them. Don’t forget there will always be these customers – who won’t switch their energy supplier or err from their favourite ice cream brand. You wouldn’t think of proposing to someone who is obviously not interested, so don’t waste too much energy on them in your business, either. Cupid’s bow doesn’t always have to hit a target, and this should be worked into your customer relationship model. In these cases, it’s more advantageous to have your CRM running silently in the background. 

Calling it a day

Some relationships will not survive, and most be severed, like a marriage heading into inevitable divorce. If customer relations turn unprofitable, then customer relationship management needs to employ strategies to deal with the termination of these unions. Relationship termination should always be an option kept in the back pocket. Desertion by clients is something that needs to be factored into your customer relationship marketing. Account for it, and your business will only be the richer and more responsive. Sometimes it's better to just let people go!

Today’s business environment is ever evolving and always challenging. How to navigate it and keep your business successful and moving in the right direction is a big deal when considering your customer relationship management. It’s a complex thing to accomplish, and like dating, won’t bring you hearts and flowers overnight. But if you consider the needs and wants of the person across the table from you, don’t overwhelm them on the first date, and definitely don’t get down on one knee and beg them for their hand in marriage or their business, then you should be on the right road to business success, ‘Just Married’ swinging from your bumper. 

Rebecca Leigh is both a writer and a marketing strategist at Write my essay service. She writes articles for online blogs and magazines, is a business consultant, and contributes to tech and marketing conferences. 

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