It is no doubt that the success of any SME is hinged on its customer service. A business that takes the time to learn its customers, their needs and preferences are more likely to enjoy success and have immense potential for growth. Many business owners know this too. However, the question begs, how do businesses go about creating a winning customer relations strategy?
If I tell you that the answer to this dilemma is within your reach, you may not believe it. You already have the resources that you need to build a solid customer relations strategy: your existing customers and your customer-facing team. If you care to engage these two, you will learn:
- How to satisfy your customers
- How to earn more income from your customers
- How to expand your customer base
Give your customers a voice
The monolog has gone on for too long. How can you have a partnership without a dialogue? It is time you heard from your customer. You do not need to speak to all of them. Select a sample that you think is representative of your customer base. Of importance, you need customers that will give opinions that are well informed.
So, choose those customers that have been with you long enough to provide well-rounded feedback. Ask them how they feel about the treatment they receive from your business and all other questions that will tell you how they view your business. Remember, you are interested in honest feedback; both positive and negative.
Engage all the stakeholders who can honestly tell you more about your public image. Why are you the preferred option by your customers? How do they feel you compare to your competitors? What are their past experiences with other suppliers? An analysis of the feedback will inform you about the areas you are scoring highly and those that need improvement.
Engage your customer-facing team
Go through the feedback together with those in your team with direct customer contact. After all, most of the feedback is a reflection of how they relate to the customers. To what extent do your employees agree with the customers’ feedback? It is prudent that you engage the team one by one so that you will hear the opinions of each one of them.
Evaluate the feedback
Proceed systematically in the analysis of the feedback. Group all the negative sentiments together and do the same for the positive opinions. You will begin to have clarity on the kind of customer support your business offers. You will also see the gaps that you need to seal, and this can form the basis for constructing a solid strategy.
Formulate the principles of an ideal customer relationship
What makes your customers happy? Collect enough information about what your clients appreciate most about your service and the improvements they have suggested in their feedback.
This will give you insights that will help you to build a quality, lasting relationship with your customer that is mutually beneficial. Consider who the best people to serve your customers are and what procedures need to be added, removed or simplified to enhance customer satisfaction.
Create a reliable customer care strategy
Go through your business and analyse every feature that affects customer relationships. Consider what changes you need to make to have a productive relationship with every single customer. The amendments may include training or retraining of staff, acquisition of a CRM system, restructuring some of the customer care processes; but it’s highly unlikely to be any one thing.
The customer care efforts should be consistent across the organization and for all your customers. How you will achieve this constitutes your customer relations strategy. So, visualize and write down an action plan that clearly spells out how you intend to achieve that ideal relationship with your customers.
It’s not a job for just the boss
Self-examination is not a pleasant process for any business. It is challenging to confront and accept your shortcomings. The process can potentially leave employees feeling inadequate and condemned. It is therefore important to get them on board from the onset. Let them see the need for the evaluation; own the process and the goals of the restructuring. Involve your employees in planning for the implementation of the strategy. Only then will the efforts bear fruit.
Once you all agree on, or at least accept the implementation process, do not rush through. Move systematically as you monitor the implementation. Do not forget to keep your team informed of the progress so that they continue to own the process.
It is an ongoing process
The needs and preferences of customers evolve, and even the best customer relations strategy can become obsolete. To keep it relevant, you must continuously study your customers and constantly evaluate your strategy.
New team members must be thoroughly inducted and be made to commit to operating within the strategy. Also, keep refining the customer care skills of your team by initiating refresher courses
Remember, the biggest asset for your business is your customers. Customers know their worth, and they will not hesitate to cross over to your competitors the moment you stop meeting their needs. A good customer relations strategy helps ensure that you remain your customers preferred option.