Building relationships with customers is a way to increase customer lifetime value, improve customer retention, and reduce marketing costs.Just a 5% increase in customer retention can improve the profitability of a business up to 75%. Through relationship marketing, businesses are able to establish strong bonds with their customers, leading to customers who are more willing to engage, purchase, and advocate.
Even businesses unlikely to have repeat purchases and return customers can still benefit from the promotion, referrals, and brand awareness acquired through loyal and satisfied customers. But how do you get started? Relationship marketing isn’t a single strategy. Instead, it’s a type of marketing strategy. By learning more about the strategies available, you can find the strategies most applicable to your business and brand.
Strategy 1: Train and promote effective sales support.
Support is an incredibly important aspect of a business, so much so that positive support interactions can mean more to a customer than the quality of a product or a service. Sales support should be responsive, transparent, and ultimately focused on promoting customer satisfaction. This strategy puts customer support and satisfaction at the forefront of a company’s marketing strategy.
Implementation: Train staff members from the ground up to promote a ‘solution-focused’ form of customer support, in which employees attempt to find resolutions to a customer’s problems and effectively address their emotions. Sales support teams should be dedicated to identifying a customer’s needs and fulfilling them, and should be aware of when to escalate calls or when to provide additional benefits (such as discounts and refunds).
Strategy 2: Keep your lines of communication open.
Modern customers expect to be able to communicate through multiple channels: email, phone, live chat, social media accounts, and more. The more accessible your business is, the easier it will be to forge long-lasting relationships with your customers. Additional lines of communication will improve brand reach and awareness among multiple demographics.
Implementation: Invest in software that makes it easier for your customers to reach you. The appropriate CRM solution (discussed below) will give your employees easy access to customers through live chat, email, and voice calls — and will encourage your customers to contact you when they have questions or concerns. Every time you interact with your customers one-on-one, you build your relationship and develop further trust and loyalty. Make sure your employees are available when needed and respond promptly to customer communications.
Strategy 3: Invest in the right ERP and CRM technology.
Enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management suites work together to improve customer service and retention. Through this technology, employees are proactively given the information that they need to best serve customers — in addition to identifying top customers quickly. Through ERP and CRM, support staff can see a customer’s history, appropriately score leads, and follow up with customers who may have issues to resolve.
Implementation: From comprehensive cloud-based solutions to smaller, on-premise software, there are dozens of popular ERP and CRM solutions. Companies should explore the solution that best meets their needs, supports their specific industry and targets them based on their company size. For many companies, a subscription-based cloud solution will be the most versatile tool available. Once setup, employees will be able to take notes about customers, consult customer information, and contact high scoring customers to check-in.
Strategy 4: Boost your loyalty and customer referral programs.
Getting customers to come back can be as easy as creating a rewards program. 79% of customers look for loyalty and reward deals before they commit to a purchase, with 26% looking for these types of promotions while shopping. Reward and referral programs show customers that you care about their business and that you appreciate their support. It also promotes and monetises their word-of-mouth efforts, potentially creating opportunities to develop brand ambassadors.
Implementation: Many point-of-sale systems today have built-in tracking for loyalty, rewards, and referral programs. Test out new programs in specific markets, with different forms of reward (such as 10% off discounts, points towards merchandise, or free rewards). Promote your reward and loyalty programs through your social media accounts — especially referral programs. Referral programs are most useful for businesses that don’t expect a lot of customer retention, such as businesses that sell one-off luxury products.
Attain and retain with relationship marketing
These are only a few of the relationship marketing strategies that may be applicable to your business. For each individual business, different strategies may be necessary — and it may not always be possible to tell which strategy will be most helpful until tested.
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