How to build long-term customer relationship
To be successful, your company needs to build long-term customer relationships. It's not easy, but you can do it.
A long-term customer relationship is based on trust and loyalty. Let’s see how you can achieve that and why you should do it.
Why it is important to build long-term customer relationships
Acquiring a new customer is way more expensive than keeping an existing one. This stat should be enough to make any business owner sit up and take notice of the importance of long-term customer relationships. But beyond the economic aspect, having loyal customers brings you several benefits:
- loyal customers are more likely to keep coming back to you for their purchases;
- you can up-sell and cross-sell more since they trust you and your recommendations;
- loyal customers are more likely to recommend your products and services to other people, thus helping you to reach new customers;
- they are more likely to give you honest feedback about your products or services. This feedback is fundamental to improve your offerings.
In short, loyal customers improve your reputation, customer retention, and even revenue.
Who is a loyal customer?
A loyal customer is someone who keeps choosing you, despite the presence of competitors. Usually, they are not only interested in buying your products or services but also in your company's success. In fact, they often unwittingly become brand ambassadors that spread your name.
Apple customers are an excellent example of loyal customers: they choose Apple not much for the product, but for the brand, the values, and the meanings. They are always ready to speak well of the company. And no matter the price, they'll be happy to buy the latest iPhone or Mac if they can.
However, there are different types of customer loyalty:
- brand loyalty: customers buy only from you and are not interested in what your competitors have to offer;
- product loyalty: customers are only interested in a specific product or service and will buy it from whoever offers it;
- price loyalty: customers are only interested in getting the best deal and will go to whoever offers the lowest price, regardless of the brand;
- channel loyalty: this customer only buys from a specific sales channel (online, offline, a specific retailer, etc.). If you are there, fine, otherwise they will buy from competitors.
As you can imagine, brand loyalty is the one that gives you the best results. And that's the one you need to pursue.
Building long-term customer relationships
So, how can you reach your goal?
To build long-term customer relationships, you need to focus on two things: creating trust and creating an unforgettable customer experience. It requires time and effort. But if you're serious about it, there are several things you can do.
1) Know your customers
Learn as much as possible about them, their needs, their wants, and their expectations. The more you know about them, the better you can serve them. This does not only mean collecting the data they passively share, but also interacting with them. Ask questions, engage them in challenges, ask for feedback, or encourage UGC, user-generated content.
2) Be responsive to your customers
Always answer their questions, solve their problems, and meet their needs. If you don't, they will quickly go to your competitors. In this regard, make sure your customer service [LINK How to improve your customer service with digital technology] is top-notch. The way and the timing with which you manage customer requests affect the perception of your brand: if people are not happy with your customer service, they will not be loyal to you.
3) Offer them value
Give your customers what they need, when they need it, and how they want it. If you do this consistently, they will keep coming back to you.
We are not just talking about products or services. You should share information to increase brand transparency [LINK The importance of transparency about a company's supply chain], give them a way to track products to see if you are committed to sustainability, create entertainment content that suits their tastes, and use the communication channels they prefer. In other words, give them a personalized customer experience [LINK 3 way to ensure a personalized customer experience]. Make them feel special, unique, like they were VIPs.
4) Reward your customers
This point is the natural continuation of the previous one.
You should show your appreciation for your customer loyalty with exclusive offers, discounts, or other special treatment just for them. Digital loyalty programs are a great way to thank them, engage with them, and incentivise them to keep coming back to you. Just be sure to offer them something that really suits their desires and needs.
5) Keep your promises.
This one is simple but important. If you say your product/service has certain characteristics, make sure it does. If your staff says they are going to do something, make sure they do. Don’t break your promises: your customers will stop trusting you and they will not be loyal to you anymore.
Use technology to your advantage
Technology can help you realize what has been said so far. Here are a few examples of tools to build long-term customer relationships:
Customer Relationship Management: a CRM system helps you keep track of your customer interactions and make sure you are providing the best possible service.
Live chat: Live chat is a great way to provide real-time customer support.
Chatbot: Chatbots are great for automating customer service and making it available 24/7. Plus, with predefined question sets, customers can solve simpler problems themselves, so customer service staff can focus on more complex stuff.
Social media: Social media is a great way to connect with your customers and build long-term relationships. Through social media, you can share information or entertainment content. Plus, you can start polls, ask questions, or just read what users think about your brand and products
AI and data analytics: AI and data analytics help you understand your customers better. You can collect a large amount of data and then analyze it in such a quick and easy way as never before. You can identify patterns, segment your customers and define needs and desires. AI can even help you automate customer service.
Use connected products: With connected products, you can keep track of how customers are using your product and identify any potential problems. You can also make the customer experience more engaging.
- Give your product a digital ID: Thanks to QR codes, RFID tags, or NFC chips you improve your transparency and traceability. In fact, customers can discover more about your product and your supply chain. They also can be sure about the product's authenticity.