When it comes to running a business, no element is more important than your client base. After all, it’s your customers that drive your company forward—their testimonies that spread word of your business, their money that allows you to grow.
The relationship small business owners have with their customers is especially important when they’re just starting out. In the early days of your business, you’ll find you have to rely an awful lot on word of mouth, as well as on loyal customers who return day after day, week after week.
In this article, Michelle Thomas from Scanteam pro gives some expert advice on how you can successfully connect with your customer base.
1. Make Your Customers Feel Special
One of the best ways to connect with your customers is to make them feel special. When it comes to customer service, there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all. Every customer is unique, with their own set of wants and needs, so treat them like individuals rather than as one homogenous group.
If you customize interactions with your clients, you’re bound to find they respond much better. By approaching every customer as an individual and making them feel special, you’ll be sure to make a lasting positive impression on them.
2. Be Responsive
Don’t make the mistake of only being there for your customers when they’re happy with your service or when you’ve had a positive review from them; be there to listen to their concerns and complaints, as well.
We’re not saying you should let them use you as a personal punching bag—just make sure that you take their concerns on board when they come to you with complaints.
If you genuinely care about a customer’s interests and want to help them out, they’ll pick up on this. And if you prove that you’re dedicated to resolving their issues, they’ll appreciate you even more!
Being responsive to customer queries and concerns is a great way to turn “haters” into advocates of your business. It’s a great way to build a loyal client base, as your customers can rest easy knowing you’ll make sure their needs are met.
3. Go That Extra Mile
If you really want to connect with your customers, make sure you go that extra mile for them. Go above and beyond. If someone knows they will always receive stellar service from your company, they’re more likely to return.
As a small business owner, you’ll probably find yourself quite close to your customers. You’ll get to know the same faces and will be more readily available to welcome new clients.
You can use this aspect of running a small business to your advantage—and you should if you want to build up a loyal customer base.
Some ways you can go that extra mile for your customers include giving special discounts to encourage customer loyalty, giving advice and recommendations that align with your customer’s specific needs, and taking steps to solve problems and address any negative experiences they have with your business.
4. Follow Up with Customers to Connect
Make an effort to follow up with your customers. If one of your clients files a complaint or contacts you with a query, you should make sure that you get back to them in a timely fashion.
Not only will this keep your business fresh in your clients’ minds, but it also will give them confidence in you and your service.
But you shouldn’t only follow up when your clients have concerns.
If a customer has recently bought a new product or service from you, get in touch to make sure that they liked it. Make sure that you also give them your thanks for supporting your business.
The benefits of following up with your customers are twofold. Firstly, by making your customers feel acknowledged, they’re much more likely to feel satisfied with the service you have given them.
Secondly, reaching out to your customers for feedback gives you the chance to deal with any issues before they become formal complaints or negative reviews.
5. Be Personal and Conversational
Taking the time to build a connection with your customer is so much easier when you approach your interactions with them as personal and conversational rather than transactional.
It’s obviously useful to explain the benefits of your products or services to your customers. But your first course of action should be to establish a more personal, conversational tone.
If you communicate to your customers that your top concern is helping them and answering any questions they might have, they’ll understand that you are well-intentioned and honest.
On the other hand, if you just come across as a sleazy salesperson, your clients will be far less inclined to listen to you or believe that you’re acting in good faith.
By getting to know your customers, you can also reach out to them about opportunities and deals you know they’ll be interested in.
For example, if you are a jeweler and you know your client has a wedding coming up soon, you might reach out closer to the time to see if they need bridal jewelry or any maintenance on their engagement ring.
6. Talk In-Person Whenever Possible
Wherever possible, it’s always better to interact in person as opposed to by email or over the phone. Studies have shown that as much as 93% of communication is non-verbal.
Without even being conscious of it, we rely so much on body language and gestures to piece together people’s true meanings and intentions.
That’s why it’s so much better to speak with customers face-to-face if you can. When using a phone or email, it’s all too easy to miscommunicate or cause confusion.
That being said, some clients may prefer phone calls or emails to face-to-face interactions. Remember, there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all in customer service; ask your client what their preferred way of communicating is and use that with them.
7. Maintain an Active Presence on Social Media
In this day and age, with the ever-growing importance of technology and the internet, social media is becoming a more and more important tool in the entrepreneur’s arsenal.
Make sure that you establish a presence on social media early on and remain active and engaged.
Making a profile for your business is useless if you don’t actually use the platform to engage with your clients.
Nowadays, many consumers will scope out a company’s social media presence before doing business with them. 40% of social media users expect businesses to respond to inquiries online within one hour, while almost 80% expect to hear back within a single day.
What’s more, customers use social media as a way of sharing their experiences with particular brands. They might post reviews of your products or services or tag you in posts about their favorite items or experiences.
By responding to these types of posts, you can really help cultivate that feeling of personal connection between you and your clients and can make sure that you’re always on their minds—and social media feeds!
The kinds of social media platforms you use are largely reliant on your particular image and target demographic. However, some of the most popular options include Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
8. Prioritize Loyal Customers Over Growth
Once you’ve built up a loyal customer base with these tips, make sure that you continue to give clients the same level of attention, offering the same level of care and support.
You shouldn’t get so caught up in the prospect of quick growth that the needs of your customers go out the window.
This is another reason why it’s important to develop a relationship with your clientele. If you know your customers’ habits, availability, and interests, you know when and how often to reach out to them.
9. Be Appreciative
A good way to make your customers feel seen and noticed is by making it clear to them how much you appreciate their support.
Think of how much it means to you when you do something for friends or family and get acknowledged for your time and efforts. It’s just the same with a relationship between a business and its clients.
Make sure that your customers have no reason to question their importance to your company. After all, without their custom, you wouldn’t even stay in business.
There are several different ways you can show your appreciation. For example, you could send out holiday cards and discount coupons.
You could even get in touch to thank them personally and to let them know you’re available if they need anything else following their purchase.
Taking this extra step will really help your customers feel a deeper connection with your brand.
10. Send Surveys to Your Customers
Our final word of advice is to send out surveys to your clients. This is a brilliant way to stay up-to-date with your customers’ needs. It also helps you figure out which aspects of your company work for your clients and which could do with some extra attention.
By surveying your customers, you can increase the quality of your products or services and can cater more specifically to your clients’ wants. This often translates to more sales for your business.
Furthermore, if your customers feel as if their input has a direct effect on your company, they are bound to feel a greater connection with your brand. This often helps to increase customer loyalty.
You should never underestimate the importance of developing a good relationship with your customers. After all, your clients form the backbone of your company. Without them, you would not be able to continue doing what you love.
This article has provided ten of the best ways you can connect with your customer base. By following this advice, you’re bound to find that you and your customers can connect. In turn, your business will only grow and grow.