Extension Cords: Plugging In

Whether you’re in a service industry or selling widgets, customer relationships are paramount in gaining repeat business. A recent study by Wunderman demonstrated a snapshot of this trend:

  • 79% of consumers said a brand must demonstrate an understanding of their needs before they would consider purchasing
  • 88% of consumers want to work with brands that continue to find new ways of meeting expectations
  • 89% of consumers are loyal to brands that share their values.

I recently read an article from PRdaily.com when something struck a chord with me. In the article, the author wrote “PR is built on connections,” and that is SO TRUE. In our industry, our “widgets” are the relationships we build with reporters, community leaders, vendors and our clients. The same is true in business. Deep connections with clients and customers is the difference between being seen as a vendor and creating an ambassador. Here are five tips to strengthen your customer relationships:

  1. Take the time to have a conversation with clients before getting down to business.

When having a meeting or phone call with a client, sometimes even when sending an email, start by asking how they are, how their weekend was, or what they did with their family during their time off. This shows you are not just invested in their business, but also in building a friendship with them. How else would you discover a mutual love of Neil Diamond, tiny dogs or common vacation spots?

  1. Be as responsive as possible.

Each customer is just as important as the next, and they should always feel as though they are at the top of your list. One of our favorite printers, Boomerang Printing, is a prime example of this. When we send them a brochure to print for a client, they immediately respond within 30 minutes to let us know they received the email and when they expect the job to be complete. If they run into an issue, they call and email to make sure it’s resolved as quickly as possible. When the job is done, they let us know immediately so we can get the finished product to the client ahead of schedule. It’s important to make sure your client knows they are important and valued.

  1. Make them laugh.

Work can be rough some days, and you never know what’s happening in another person’s world. I believe the best way to a person’s heart is through a laugh or smile. If I can make at least one of our clients crack a smile throughout the day, I feel just as accomplished as I do when finishing a project I’ve been working on.

  1. Remember that it’s the little things.

Whether delivering a celebration breakfast after a major win, sending flowers after a loved one has passed away, or just sending a happy birthday card, it’s important to remember that the little things go a long way. You don’t have to make any of these gestures, but when you do, chances are your client will never forget it. Do what will set your company apart from everyone else’s!

  1. Always operate in an honest and open environment.

Establishing a comfortable environment for both you and your customer from the beginning is vital moving forward. Many of our most successful marketing campaigns are a team effort between our internal brainstorms and client collaborations, but none would have happened with out open communication. You both should be able to share feedback, ideas and opinions without hesitation.