Marketing Center

Relationship marketing: Tips for managing customers

Take steps to develop relationships with your customers and encourage engagement.

Published: July 19, 2017

Cultivating relationships with customers is essential to growing a successful business. Of course you need a reliable product or service, knowledgeable employees, and steady cash flow, but committed customers are also a key part of the equation. For instance, a RightNow survey shows that 86 percent of consumers will pay more if they receive a better customer experience. Here are a few tips for developing strong relationships with customers.

Customer engagement’s role in relationship marketing

Customer engagement is a key component to increasing the depth of a customer-brand relationship — but it’s important to remember that customer satisfaction and engagement are not interchangeable.

Customer satisfaction relates to your customer’s experience with a particular product or service. Customer engagement, on the other hand, is measured through a customer’s direct interaction with a brand, which typically comes from the efforts that appeal to customers’ emotions. Engagement can be harder to accomplish, but the loyalty you’ll obtain and relationships you’ll develop are well worth the extra effort.

To evaluate engagement, ask yourself if your customers go beyond purchasing (and enjoying) the product. For instance, do they:

  • Follow you on social media

  • Recommend you to friends

  • Use your business exclusively to fill their needs within its category (or if they use it to supplement goods or services provided by other brands)

Building connections

To encourage customers to develop a relationship with you, demonstrate that you want to develop a relationship with them. Invest in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. This will allow your team to have a holistic view of the customers across marketing, sales, and customer support. You should then be able to track all interactions with your customers and retain information on your customers’ preferences.

You should also focus attention on the social media platforms that serve your target audience, and carefully tailor posts for each platform’s users — for instance, LinkedIn may be the right place to promote lengthy thought leadership, while Snapchat may be best suited for sharing a daily deal or online flash sale.

Encourage referrals

According to Gallup, approximately 88 percent of people say their friends have an influence on their purchasing decisions. If you’re able to invest a little money, you can generate business by incentivizing referrals. For example, you could provide a discount to customers who refer a friend to your business. Positive customer experiences also result in referrals, which are an effective, inexpensive, and simple way to get new prospects in your door.

And once you’ve made the first contact, don’t let people forget about you. Most customers will make referrals within three days of their last interaction with your company, so send them a friendly reminder — via email, social media, or traditional mail — that you’re thankful for their business.

Respond to customer feedback

Turn every complaint into an opportunity to show you genuinely value your customers and want to improve your business: Reach out to customers who provided negative feedback for possible solutions to problems they experienced. According to Esteban Kolsky, CEO of thinkJar, 67 percent of customer turnover could have been prevented if an issue was resolved at the first engagement.