Not being customer-centric can be a threat to any business. A strong connection with customers will help you to discover who they really are, the challenges they are facing in their lives and how you can innovate your product/service to solve their problems. You see, people are more than just dollar signs. They are humans with unique needs and wants. Get to know your customers on a deeper level in the most authentic way possible. Your interaction with them should go beyond the surface and past the cold, rigid automation of digital technologies. At best, adopt an approach that humanizes the process of communication and which always appeals to your customer’s emotions. This is not only a way to build a meaningful connection with your customers but it is how you can turn them into your brand advocates.
Ask important questions: Do some research about who your customers are likely to be and then craft a set of questions based on the purpose for which you would like to establish a connection with them. Your questions are an opportunity for you to gain insight into a group of people. This exercise is to help you understand what motivates their buying decisions and informs their purchasing behaviours. You will be able to find out what they like and what they do not. Asking the right questions will inform your decisions around the delivery of your product or service. It will give you content that you can use as material for innovating new methods and finally, it will give you an upper hand over your competition. Prepare all your questions ahead of time, make your interviewees or focus group comfortable and be ready to take detailed notes. If you decide to ask questions by some means of electronic communication such as an online survey or product evaluation, make sure you appeal to the customer’s emotions and help them see why their feedback is valuable. You can also provide an incentive for them to provide their answers.
Practice active listening: Another way to make a connection with customers is to allowing them to feel like their voice is being heard and that they too can make a positive difference. When you are asking questions, practice active listening. This means you will not interrupt the other party’s narrative but allow them to express themselves fully. Make sure you leave your personal or corporate agendas at home and be open to both positive and negative feedback. Some ways to practice active listening is to make eye contact with whom you are speaking to. Even though you are writing notes or recording the conversation, try to remember snippets of what they have said in order to refer back to it later. While they are talking, provide positive reinforcement such as nodding, saying “yes” and “okay.” At the end of their answer, you can summarize their main points just to aid slow comprehension and to ensure you have gotten the main gist of what they’ve been saying.
Always follow-up: The whole point of establishing a meaningful connection with customers is not just to engage in conversations about your product or service but more importantly to build a lasting relationship. Follow-up with your customers but don’t do it in an annoying way. Show that you actually care and make that the premise upon which you contact them. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Successful brands are the ones that care about people. Find out things about them like their birthdays, graduations and other special days then make an effort to celebrate those precious moments with them. If you do not have the technological infrastructure (CRM) to collect such targeted information about your customers then you can host customer appreciate days. Do not be afraid to be the one to make the first move in initiating contact. Something as simple as a congratulatory email on their special day can speak volumes. You will know you have established a solid connection with customers when you have officially become their best friend to the point where they are recommending your brand. How to measure success? Pay attention to little things like event attendance, email open rates, number of returning website visitors, number of repeat purchases and online conversations about your brand.
What has been the most challenging aspect of building a relationship with your customer and how did you overcome it or what will you do differently knowing what you know now?
Image source: http://bit.ly/2fchA2r