Relationships require time and care. Everyone needs a little TLC. But.. customer relationships don't really follow normal relationship rules. Sometimes it may be difficult to know how to "maintain" or "mend" a relationship that's undefined or unclear. Without effort, relationships dissolve. Without addressing and solving issues, they tend to come to an end. Don't let that happen with your customers!
The way that the maintaining aspect of the relationship is handled will depend largely on what kind of company it is that you are running. These ideas are split into client and customer models, but go ahead and put both into perspective on how the overall concept apples.
With a client relationship, they rely on you to supply a consistent good or service that benefits them in some way. The relationship is based on your ability to perform and help them as they expect or anticipate you to.
Be involved where appropriate.
If you happen to know when they started working for their company, congratulate them on anniversaries. Congratulate on big things happening for the company as you hear about them. Keep it professional but let them know that you care about them and their success.
Value their business.
Send them a hand written note and maybe a small gift when they’ve been a client for a year and subsequent years to follow. Thank them for continuing their account with you.
Know them and their circumstances.
Knowing their circumstances and informing them of other products or services that will help them. If they come to you and are able to feel like they have a partner rather than a vendor, you’re doing a great job.
And then we have the customer relationship. This one is much less defined. In a client relationship model it is usually one person who consistently communicates with one specific employee in the company, but a customer usually just has contact to the brand or company itself.
Have a good front desk/customer service.
I can’t tell you how many reviews I’ve read about offices or services and how they either praise or are completely turned off by the receptionist or whichever employee took care of them at the beginning. Customers want someone who is attentive to them and is kind and friendly. Customers expect this all the time, but especially at a customer service center where they are asking you to solve a specific problem.
Keep in touch with them, whether that be through social media, direct mail or email. It has been proven that personalized content yields greater results. Give it a try!
Asking for feedback shows that you value their opinion.“From a marketing perspective, this deepens customer engagement and solidifies their loyalty. If you actually act on what you learn from those customers, so much the better.” If they’re willing to give you poor feedback and didn’t just walk away determined to never come back, don’t take the complaint lightly. If possible to trace back to them, reach out to them and thank them for their honesty and try to better the situation.
This brings us to the aspect of mending. Part of maintaining a relationship is mending it when it isn’t ideal.
Hopefully your products and services work great and are delivered just as ordered and on time, but sometimes that doesn’t happen. Sometimes it is your company’s fault, and sometimes fault of the delivery company for example. But to the customer, something went wrong and they are looking to you for a solution in a timely manner.
First and foremost, do everything you can to make the situation right (fixing the job or order, giving credit or discounts, etc). However, there’s another piece of the equation to be considered. Usually there is a person whose job and or personal life was impacted by the situation.
Here at Thomas Printworks we are in the process of implementing a “Relationship Repair Package”. This is small kit that is a personal way to apologize to the person who was most impacted by the issue. Some ideas to include are a handwritten note and a few branded items.
Trevor Hansen, Chief Revenue Officer at Thomas Printworks explains that, "the idea came about from a couple of my own personal experiences. One was at a hotel when things did not go well and they offered to comp my room. Which was very nice of them, but that benefits the company since I was traveling on business, not myself who lost sleep. So in addition they gave me points equivalent to one night free that I can use how I choose."
It's important to solve the issue and do your best to mend the relationship with the person(s) impacted.
However, some customer relationships unfortunately for one reason or another come to an end. In these circumstances..
End on a kind note.
Send a thank you note if appropriate. Wish them the best of luck in their endeavors and let them be well on their way. Nobody likes to see a customer go, but one thing worse than a customer leaving, is an unhappy customer leaving.
Show your customers and clients that you care and take those steps to maintain and mend those relationships when needed. Thinking about creating a Relationship Repair Package? Let us help!