How to Build Long-Lasting Customer Relationships24 August 2022
The blog entry below is brought to you by one of our partners, Live Agent; they’re tech leaders in the branch of communication software for tech support/customer service.
Building and maintaining long-lasting customer relationships is key to success for any business. Strong customer relationships improve customer retention, drive sales, sustainability and growth. Today's consumers are less loyal since they switch brands easily due to poor experiences or competitors offering better options. Hence, nurturing relationships with your existing customers is crucial.
So how can you keep your customers and make them stick to your brand despite the variety of competitors offering similar (or identical) products or services?
Let’s explore six ways businesses can develop and maintain long-standing customer relationships.
Six strategies for building long-lasting customer relationships
- Provide an omnichannel customer experience
Numerous studies prove that today’s consumers use multiple channels to engage with brands, even during a single interaction/transaction. They want a consistent omnichannel experience across all the touchpoints.
In fact, 86% of shoppers are regularly channel-hopping across at least two channels. And according to research by Aberdeen Group, companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers.
Voice over IP, email, chat, chatbots, text messages, social media, and self-service platforms are very different channels. Different customer groups prefer each at various stages of the customer journey. A customer may start communicating on social media, switch to live chat, and then to the phone. By integrating an omnichannel strategy, you can have them hopping channels and maintaining contact. You can deliver seamless and satisfying customer experiences contributing to longer-lasting customer relationships and improved retention.
- Deliver on and exceed customer service expectations
Customer service has become a significant differentiation factor for businesses and a major driver of customer loyalty. As stated in a survey by Microsoft, 96% of consumers globally say customer service is an essential factor in their choice of loyalty to a brand. Today, even a single bad service experience can prompt consumers to switch brands. That is why providing a top-notch customer service experience, even exceeding customers’ expectations, can make the difference.
The rising demand for AI-powered chatbots, self-service, higher expectations of digitalization, personalization, and omnichannel support are trends to consider for your customer service strategy. Delivering the anticipated service and surpassing expectations are bases for building lasting bonds with customers.
- Build your content around customer needs
Customer trust is not won at the early stages of the customer journey. It’s a continuous and consistent process that involves delivering real value to customers. Even after prospects convert, you continue educating them about your products or services. Build informative, actionable, relevant, and engaging content around your customers’ needs. Resolve pain points at every stage of their journey, and they’ll be committed to longer-term relations with your brand.
In fact, the majority of the most successful B2B content marketers (88%) prioritize the audience’s informational needs over their sales and promotional message. While 74% craft content based on specific stages of the customer journey, according to the annual B2B Content Marketing report from the Content Marketing Institute.
Sharing educational content (such as tutorials, infographics, interactive reports, e-books, videos, etc.) helps your customers learn more and feel at ease using your product. It proves value and shows why your product is actually worth sticking around for.
- Recognize and reward loyal customers
Both businesses and consumers believe that recognizing and rewarding customer loyalty positively impacts customer relationships with brands. In fact, most companies already have loyalty programs. 80% of consumers agree that loyalty programs make them more likely to continue doing business with brands, according to the recent Loyalty Report 2021. This is why a well-designed and carefully executed loyalty program can add massive value to maintaining long-term customer relations and keeping your customers coming back.
Loyalty programs commonly offer free items, discount codes, cashback, early access to new products, or special VIP perks to the most devoted customers. The incentives should reflect what your customers would actually appreciate. It requires businesses to make a genuine effort to understand their loyal customers and figure out what would encourage them to remain or come back. Amazon Prime, DSW, Starbucks Rewards, the North Face, Sephora and Beauty Insider are some of the best loyalty program examples to learn from.
- Leverage feedback to enhance customer experience
Collecting, evaluating, and acting on customer feedback is one of the most efficient ways of fostering long-term customer relationships. When you ask for feedback, whether in text form or at the end of the chat, you show that you care and make customers feel heard, valued, and appreciated.
On top of that, you get to hear directly from your customers how they engage with your product or service, what is and isn’t working, and what expectations they have. This is an invaluable source of information for improving your offerings and customer experience.
Asking for feedback could be as simple as automatically sending short email surveys after a service conversation, a resolved support ticket, or after a customer has been using your product for some time. The key is doing it regularly, responding to feedback (both positive and negative), and carrying out improvements. That shows you are truly listening to your customers.
- Improve employee experience and engagement
Employee experience impacts all aspects of a business, including customer experience and brand perception. Positive employee experience improves engagement, productivity, morale, company culture, and retention. The McKinsey Employee Experience survey revealed that people who report a positive employee experience have 16 times the engagement level of employees with a negative experience and that they are eight times more likely to want to stay at a company.
Creating a culture of engaged, invested, and happy employees is critical to ensuring customer satisfaction and a positive customer experience at every stage of the customer journey. When employees and customers are happy, customer relationships will likely last for years.
Building strong customer relationships requires strategic, consistent, and ongoing efforts. But the payoff to your business’s bottom line is worth it. Employ the six critical strategies discussed above to ensure customers stay loyal to your brand for the long haul.
A final note from VoIP.ms: We have developed a solid, cooperative business relationship with LiveAgent recently, as they’re the developers of our actual chat service, implemented precisely to improve your experience and serve you more efficiently.
Oliver Stasinszky is a content specialist and copywriter at LiveAgent, with a background in e-commerce and customer service. Passionate about writing, reading, and learning how to play any musical instrument he comes across.
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