You are a leader in your field. Everything you do is top-of-the-line, and you offer the highest level of service. Your customers are happy. Everything seems to be going well, and your business will continue to be successful. Or will it?
In today’s competitive world, it’s easy for your customers to search out and connect with new vendors any place and any time. That means you should be watching out to make sure they’re not thinking about moving their business elsewhere. In addition, you have to ensure that your clients aren’t considering taking advantage of offers from competitors trying to attract new business.
Here are five things you can do right now to nurture and improve your customer relationships so you don’t lose valuable clients.
It might seem obvious that you need to communicate regularly with your clients, but you’d be surprised how many businesses forget to do this. Once a business relationship is up and running, it’s easy to take it for granted. Business owners or sales reps naturally assume that all is going well if they don’t get a complaint. But that’s probably not the case.
According to a study by Lee Resources, a business management consultant, as reported by Help Scout:
80% of companies say they deliver superior customer service – and only 8% of people think these same companies actually deliver it.
So how do you know you’re actually delivering great customer service if you don’t ask your customers?
Make it a point to regularly talk to your clients. Instead of sending them an email or text to ask a question or resolve a simple issue, pick up the phone instead. Use it as an excuse to check in on how things are going. Ask specific questions about quality, deliveries, and experiences with your workers. These conversations could get your clients talking about little issues they may have not taken the time to call about. It may be small things, but fixing them will create a better client relationship over the long run.
2. Make it easy for customers to complain
You can’t call each customer every single day. So what happens on the day when a customer has a bad experience and you haven’t talked to them?
Make it easy for them to report the issue. Have a complaint area on your website that explains what customers should do if they run into a problem with a service you offer. Publish the name of the person they should contact, along with their phone number and email address.
And don’t just do lip service when it comes to customer-related issues. Have procedures in place to make sure they get resolved after they’ve been reported. Also, always remember to get back to the client to report the resolution. Constantly remind your customers that feedback is important to you. Put messages on your website requesting it. Add it to all your bills and sales receipts. Include it as part of your on-hold messaging. Your clients must be aware that you are sincere about wanting to hear about their issues, and you have to be clear about how they can do that.
When customers share their story, they’re not just sharing pain points. They’re actually teaching you how to make your product, service, and business better. Your customer service organization should be designed to efficiently communicate those issues.
– Kristin Smaby, “Being Human is Good Business”
3. Use social media to communicate — and listen — more
Most businesses think of social media as a communication device. However, in addition to talking to your customers, social media gives your customers a chance to talk to you.
Maintain an active social media platform — perhaps publishing and distributing company news and helpful electronics industry information through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn — to remind your customers that you’re accessible. Give them a chance to post positive and negative comments through social.
Make sure you check your social media accounts regularly and respond to positive comments and complaints in a timely basis. Publicly responding to social complaints is a good practice because it demonstrates that you care about your customers. According to a study by Bain & Company, when companies engage and respond to customer service requests over social media, those customers end up spending 20 percent to 40 percent more money with the company.
4. Ask for ratings and reviews
Requesting a rating or review is a great opportunity to be proactive. Today, it’s easy for customers to find plenty of outlets to provide ratings and reviews of your business — and if they’re angry or displeased with your service, they likely will.
Why not own part of that conversation and give your customers an opportunity to provide ratings and reviews on your own website? If you do this, they’ll be less likely to blast you on a more public, external review site. In addition, knowing what’s being said about your company online allows you to see where you’re succeeding and where you need improvement. It’s a great way to get ahead of problems and solve them before they become major issues.
5. Be human
While your company may gather customer compliments and complaints using social media, email, websites, online reviews, and surveys, the response to feedback through these impersonal channels must be human and very personal.
Customers these days expect fast and accurate responses to customer issues. Identify a single point of contact to handle these communications from your company, or have your sales team — or the client’s everyday point of contact — take care of these issues.
Set a goal of responding to complaints within an hour or as close as possible to that mark. Make sure customer-related issues are handled in-person or over the phone. And double-check to see that they’re resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.