Creating a Lasting Business Relationship
Creating a lasting customer relationship
These days, consumers have more choices than ever when it comes to whom they do business with. They know it, and in some cases, they make sure the rest of the world knows it, too. Just take a quick scroll through TikTok or Instagram and you’ll undoubtedly find videos of angry customers who have announced their displeasure with a company and have publicly vowed to never go back. Of course, this is probably after they ask to talk with the manager, but that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms.
All kidding aside, though, if business owners want to retain their customers, they have to go the extra mile to keep them satisfied long-term. That means instead of falling back on basic customer service, which tends to be reactive and responsive, they need to be willing to go deeper and build a meaningful connection with the customer.
“In today’s market, it’s all about being proactive,” said Patrick Moraites, a partner and VP of business development for Tampa-based Axis Group. “The companies that are able to successfully implement a client retention strategy that focuses on relationship building are the ones that are going to see a major payoff down the road.”
From a statistical standpoint, the efforts a company makes to retain existing customers can have a significant financial impact. According to data published in Forbes, it can cost five times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. Additional research shows that increasing customer retention rates by as little as five percent can raise profits by 25 to 95 percent.
The reasons why customer retention can increase profitability are simple. First, the longer a customer stays with a company, the more he or she is likely to purchase from that company. Whether you’re talking about steaks or stocks, the numbers can really add up! Plus, because they’ve built a relationship with you over time, they’re more likely to be OK with the occasional rate raise and won’t be looking to jump ship. Finally, they’re probably so happy with your service and confident in your ability that they’re willing to send new business your way.
“Customer loyalty doesn’t happen overnight,” Moraites said. “But if you commit to putting the time in, you’re absolutely going to reap the benefits – and so will your customers.”
So what can business owners do to cultivate lasting relationships? Here are three key suggestions:
- Build a personal connection: Instead of just getting down to business, spend some time getting to know your clients on a personal level – and use visual and verbal cues as a guide to start the conversation. For example, if they’re wearing a T-shirt for a sports team, ask them who their favorite player is or if they’ve been to any games lately. Did they mention their spouse or children? Use the opportunity to find out more about their family. Then, make a note of their names so you can inquire about them at your next meeting. These little things can go a long way in making your customers feel valued, seen and appreciated.
- Communicate often: There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling like you’ve been forgotten by someone who is, in theory, working for you. When customers call or email you with questions or concerns, be sure to get back to them within a reasonable amount of time, even if you don’t yet have an answer for them. After all, sometimes people just want to be heard and acknowledged. If you notice something that would interest them – business related or not – reach out and share it. And always close every conversation by asking if there’s anything else you can help them with. By creating an open, steady line of communication with your customers, they’ll know that you’re someone they can count on no matter what. That’s huge!
- Take responsibility when things go wrong: Let’s face it – we’re all human and that means we’re all going to make mistakes now and then. Should you make an error that affects your customer, don’t just sweep it under the rug and hope she doesn’t find out. Contact her, explain the situation and let her know the steps you’re taking to make it right. On the other hand, if she notices the mistake first and contacts you about it, listen to her and allow her to share her feelings before attempting to diffuse the situation or offer a solution. If you’ve put in the legwork and established a solid client relationship, it’s probably going to survive the occasional bump in the road.
You might be thinking “all of this is well and good, but I barely have 15 minutes to eat lunch. When am I going to find the time for relationship building?” If that sounds like your current situation, it may be worth thinking about hiring a PEO.
A PEO, also known as Professional Employer Organization, is a single source provider of integrated services that allows business owners to outsource a number of their administrative, human resources, payroll and other employee-related functions. By moving these time-consuming responsibilities to a PEO, business owners are able to free up their schedules and focus on retention activities that are guaranteed to make clients happy. That way, the only videos they post about your business on social media will be good ones!
“If you want your customers to stick with you, bringing a PEO on board can be a huge help,” Moraites said. “It truly is a win-win for everyone.”
Wondering if a PEO could be the right solution for you? The team at Axis can help you make an informed decision. Contact us today by clicking here.