One of the significant aspects of organizational success is customer relationships. Thanks to network and technology, customers have more information and options for their business at their disposal than ever before. Many organizations have brought in major changes to their customer relationship strategy to increase the percentage of their customer retention, satisfaction, and loyalty.
The term customer relationship itself may simply seem to be what it means – maintaining a good relationship with your customers - but it implies more than that. Below are some of the aspects that contribute to it.
Communication is key
As cliché as it may sound, effective communication is the basis of a successful business. Communication plays a vital role, from requirements gathering to sharing it with the engineering and development team to marketing the product.
To make what you write compelling, use simple words that cut to the chase and be clear and precise rather than make long and ambiguous statements. Communication does not only mean the “language you speak” but also the “non-verbal” transmission of messages. Also, body language and tone of voice matter a lot when you speak to your customers. A keen eye can easily say if you are bluffing.
Keep the communication channel running no matter what. Sometimes you may have come to a halt, but still leaving the void for a long time may become uncomfortable for your customers. Send them an email on the progress or inform them of the current process taking so long to proceed further. Customers appreciate that you kept them posted in the long run and did not leave them out.
You can work seamlessly and effectively communicate with your customers when you have built trust. Be transparent with your customer w.r.t the product you are delivering to them. Call out any open points that may need closure, be proactive and reach out to the customers. Look at the problem by being in their shoes, keeping aside all the other factors to understand them better, and letting them know that you are acknowledging their needs.
Once your customers understand that you are talking their language and foreseeing the problems with them, the rest of the business will run smoothly.
Understand the pain points
Whether it is building a new product or enhancing one, you should always know the user's pain point. To design a new product, you should see the need for it and the pain the customer is currently facing because of its absence. Whereas fixing an existing system is more like a doctor diagnosing a patient, you need to ask various questions to get to the real pain point. Sometimes, what the patient may be complaining about may not be the actual source of the problem. It would help if you found the root cause to fix the problem permanently.
Finding the problem is half resolved. Doing this helps plan the onboarding of the right team and people at the right time.
Admitting mistakes to the customer is always better than playing dumb and waiting until they point them out. It is a typical case during sprint releases that functionality you had to implement might not work because of known reasons, or you had to drop it since you did not have enough time. In such cases, it is better to explain to the customer during the demo session or email them upfront, so they have a heads-up while they test the released version.
Call out the mistakes and apologize when you know there is one or when you let your customer down. This way, your customer will see that you will not hide it even if you make a mistake, which is part of building trust with your customers.
Acknowledge and accept feedback
Always acknowledge your customer’s feedback, whether it is through an email, over a call, or even in person. You should point out the earlier problem and the current state that shows their assessments/suggestions/needs taken care of during the demo.
Ask for customer feedback explicitly and when you receive one, make sure you let them know that you heard them. It is an excellent practice to note the comments/feedback from the customers, and it comes in handy if either of you needs to recall anything specific later.
Talk to the real users
Sometimes customers could act as a spokesperson for the actual users if you have one more step to capture all the requirements. You should check with your customer if you can connect directly to the real users of the product. If they are not happy with it, you need to explain why talking to them makes their product better. You can ask them to lead the discussion, ask the right questions, and be the audience. It may bring out requirements that the customer might have missed, plus it is good to know the user’s perspective as they will be your real end-users for whom you are building your product.
Customers will also have a point of view by considering budget, timeline, organizational changes, etc., which the real users may not have.
Everyone values it when you respect their time, and a small token of appreciation can go a long way in sustaining a fruitful relationship with your customers. Take time to appreciate their effort in making the business successful. You never know what positive results you may get.
A small note thanking them for all the time they have sat with you to make the product better will boost the happiness quotient. Also, if you have more individuals involved, you would want to highlight the tasks and names for which you would like to appreciate them.
Have one person as the point of contact for your customer. If you have many people in your team and have not established a consistent communication channel and a single point of contact, it can be not very clear for your customer whom to contact when they need it. Be proactive and let your customers know when the key contact person is not available and make sure the person filling in is up to date on the current progress.
Customers are not transactions but treat them as partners in your company’s growth. Having a loyal customer base will do wonders for your business, and building such a mutual relationship that lasts, requires time, effort, and trust. Do not ever take your customers for granted, for customers are why your business exists. Think of them as the pillars of your high-rise building, and the more pillars and the longer they stand, the stronger you will be.
Business enterprises should always start with their customers, design their journeys, and derive the necessary capabilities to foster meaningful relationships. It is essential to maintain multiple perspectives that affect the organization’s success. “The customer is king” has long been a well-known mantra, and companies of all industries and sizes are focusing more on building true excellence in customer relationships.
Nevertheless, one thing that is sure to transpire when you build in-depth customer relations is noticing an increasing customer base. Furthermore, when you have a favorable relationship with your customers, you are not very far from establishing some beneficial customer relationships.