Social media and other feedback vehicles can help you build positive, long-term relationships with your customers.
It’s four to five times more profitable to keep an existing client than it is to acquire a new one. Here are some ideas to create relationships with your customers and keep them coming back for years to come.
Focus on Customer Service
Mike Sanderson, CEO of Washington-based Sandco Properties, a property management firm, shifted his company’s culture to focus on superior customer service about five years ago.
Sanderson’s staff treats residents with respect and builds customer loyalty. He refers to his customers as residents, never tenants, and all maintenance issues and safety inspections are dealt with in a thorough and professional manner. But the staff also goes beyond these professional courtesies. When new residents come in to sign a lease, they receive a gift basket with items such as picture-hanging kits, tape measures, cleaning supplies and toys if the family has young children.
“I get comments and letters all the time saying, ‘I’ve never had anybody care about us like this,’” Sanderson says.
As a result of these efforts, he now consistently has three to five percent fewer vacancies than competitors in his area. He also has residents who have rented his units for seven or more years. Prospective residents have been known to wait for a vacancy rather than move in somewhere else.
Target Communications to Build Relationships
Although a company’s personal interactions with clients are important, companies can also build customer loyalty through the use of social media.
Social media is a powerful tool to engage customers. “Top-of-mind awareness leads to retention, and social media is a fantastic way to stay top of mind with your customers,” says Heather Logrippo, CEO of ExposeYourselfPR.com and publisher of Distinctive Homes magazine. She says creating a Facebook page is the best way to retain customers, and she attributes a sizable percentage of her revenue to contacts made on Facebook. “My strategy is to bring value to my customers and potential customers through relevant, engaging posts,” she says. “People don’t want to be sold to. They want information.”
Tina Gleisner, president of My Handyman in southern New Hampshire, uses a monthly e-newsletter — Handyman News — to stay in touch with customers, remain top of mind and demonstrate expertise. The e-newsletter covers a wide range of topics from maintenance projects and home improvement tips to fun, seasonal ideas like how to build a gingerbread house. She uses the e-newsletters to spark ideas for projects with which her company can assist. And by attaching coupons to the emails, she gives clients an incentive to come back. Gleisner, like Logrippo, focuses on sharing information and providing quality content rather than trying to sell to customers.
Monitor Satisfaction to Improve Business Performance
Finding out how customers perceive your business is an important step to improving it, and surveys are cost-effective communication tools business owners can use to do just that. Sanderson found that conducting customer surveys not only pointed out areas his company could improve, but it also created a valuable opportunity to communicate with customers and build trust.
Dr. Jane Goldner, business consultant and author of Driven to Success: A 10-Point Checkup to Achieving High Performance in Business also suggests surveying customers, but says feedback needs to be used properly.
“Input deserves output,” she says. “When you plan for a customer survey, include a strategy for letting customers know what you have done with the feedback and how you have improved service.”
Creating relationships with your customers can take many forms based on the type of business you own, your goals as a business and your technological expertise. The important part is that these relationships are built and maintained because building strong customer relationships can earn you more business in the long run.
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