Customer Relations: 7 Ways to Improve It (With Examples)
Nurturing customer relations and building consumer connections are among the most essential strategies for both growing and retaining your customer base. But, unfortunately, customer relations can fall by the wayside for some businesses. In many cases, businesses fail to capitalize on the growth and retention that comes with the right customer relations strategy.
When you do it right, you’ll find that implementing robust customer relations strategies can improve ROI and significantly increase customer acquisition, satisfaction, and ongoing loyalty. You might even find customer relations to be at the heart of your business.
Are you ready to build a customer relations strategy and start taking advantage of all the ongoing benefits? Let’s dive into all the information you need to establish an effective strategy for connecting with consumers and building brand loyalty. We’ll cover everything from the basics of customer relations, as well as examples and strategies to improve.
Customer relations is easy to define. In the most simple dictionary terms, the concept of customer relations refers to the relationships your business has with customers.
This means that customer relations involve the way your business treats customers, how it interacts with customers, how it communicates with customers, how it retains customers, and much more. This all adds up to mean that customer relations might be the sum of all consumer interactions.
Customer service and customer relations both involve making connections with consumers. In fact, customer service can even be a type of customer relation. However, the two similar concepts also have a few major differences.
What’s the difference between customer service and customer relations? For one, customer service is reactive while customer relations is proactive. Customer service is also an inbound function and is often expected as the first point of interaction, usually in response to customer action.
For example, let’s say a customer visits your website and reaches out to an agent via a click-to-call link. They’re likely going to receive customer service from your business. Your business will receive an inbound call and have a chance to react to your consumer’s needs.
If customer service is inbound and reactive, customer relations is both inbound and outbound and proactive. It might encompass all traditional customer service functions but also goes much further. In fact, customer relations should be a consideration throughout the customer journey. It includes efforts before and after a customer interaction and is a proactive way to send consumers down the sales funnel.
Customer relations refers to how a business engages with customers to improve the journey. It might include more proactive measures, as well as provide solutions to short-term setbacks. Good customer relations help to create a strategic and mutually beneficial relationship between business and customer that goes beyond the initial purchase.
Engaging in good customer relations can sometimes involve customer relationship management. Despite sounding similar, customer relations and customer relationship management are actually quite different.
What’s the difference between customer relations and customer relationship management? In the simplest terms, customer relations refers to interactions with customers, while customer relationship management refers to policies, tools, and software platforms used to track and manage these interactions.
Businesses use customer relationship management (CRM) to keep track of leads and customers throughout the entire consumer journey. You’ll find CRM useful at all points of the customer lifecycle.
Building customer relations can be essential to the success of your business. You’ll find that customer relations management can help your company or brand:
- Retain customers
- Build loyalty
- Earn word-of-mouth-referrals
Why is customer relations important? For one, building customer relations saves money. It might cost fives times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing client. This means that increasing customer retention by a mere 5% can result in profit increases of up to 95%, according to data from Small Business Trends.
Customer relations are different from customer service. Building customer relations lets you be proactive and take a holistic approach to customer needs. With the right strategies and methods, you might find that you can engage customers by collecting feedback and maintaining open communication. You can use customer relations to nudge customers toward a future goal, anticipate upcoming needs, and even build trust.
Let’s look at a few examples of customer relations.
Email newsletters offer an easy method of connecting with and engaging customers. You can send targeted information to segmented audiences, allowing you to make customers feel seen and encouraging them to engage with your brand or business.
Email works because it meets your customers wherever they are. In fact, numbers from Campaign Monitor indicate that email marketing comes with the highest ROI across all channels, as each $1 spent can return $38.
Social media continues to be an important arena for customer relations. Interacting with social posts is another way to meet customers where they already are and interact with them on their preferred platform.
You might use social posts to build customer relations by offering swift responses to customer queries and messages. You can also use social posts to educate customers about your products or brand, provide a self-service help center, offer personalized service, and interact with customers consistently — even before they make a purchase.
A Facebook post from clothing retailer Express that demonstrates how social posts can improve customer relations. Source
Building customer relations via SMS or text messages just makes sense. Why? SMS has the highest open rate of all messaging channels, as 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of delivery, according to numbers from Lekab.
You can also use targeted SMS to build loyalty, send offers and promotions, distribute up-to-the-minute updates, send reminders, simplify purchases, and drive online traffic. SMS messages are a smart and cost-efficient method of customer relations management.
An example of SMS marketing messaging. Source
Combining direct mail with other customer relationship management practices can be a big part of building customer relations. You might find that direct mail can be used to generate leads and sales, build your brand’s image and awareness, introduce new services or products, or even promote your website or social media accounts.
Direct mail can be segmented based on the audience. Responses can be tracked with a unique URL, discount code, or even a QR code with logo. Direct mail lets you build customer relations by allowing you to focus on the customer and provide individualized content.
An example of a direct-mail promotion with a QR code. Source
Businesses and brands use loyalty programs to reward repeat customers and build customer relations. It is a great approach, too, as studies have shown that 87% of consumers want relationships with brands. Recognizing repeat customers with loyalty programs is a great way to start building relationships.
Loyalty programs can be an important factor in customer retention. From reward and point programs to special events for VIPs, there are many ways loyalty programs can keep your customers engaged and coming back.
Surveys also offer chances for building customer relations, as they provide a high-level view into your customers’ thoughts. You might solicit information about your customers and their purchase plans through chat or email surveys. Or, consider seeking customer feedback through Google, Facebook, or Yelp reviews.
Data collected through surveys can be used to gauge satisfaction levels, capture customer emotion, measure customer experience, and find other information essential to customer relations management.
Amazon’s feedback form. Source
Your customers are likely busy people. Keep them engaged with your business by using appointment and renewal reminders to help them manage their schedules. Businesses that try using appointment and renewal reminders when building customer relations find that attendance might increase and no-shows/cancellations decrease.
You can customize the messaging in your appointment and renewal reminders to speak directly to your customers. These reminders are opportunities for one-on-one communication.
An example of a renewal reminder. Source
There’s much more to a thank-you page than simply offering gratitude for a lead form completion, email sign-up, or even a sale. In fact, thank-you pages might boost your conversion rate and increase customer relationships.
Thank-you pages give customers a chance to take another action. They might find links to your brand’s social media pages. They might see similar products or services, allowing you to cross-sell. You might offer other relevant content. Each of these actions can further engage consumers.
An example of a thank-you page. Source
Package tracking offers customers a proactive way to know their order status and anticipate delivery. Customers are excited to get your products and likely want to know where their goods are each step of the way.
The numbers prove the importance of package tracking. For example, 52% of customers say delivery efficiency is a factor when it comes to brand loyalty. Letting them see where their package is builds trust, keeps them informed, and helps build a long-term customer relationship.
An example of package tracking information. Source
No matter whether you’re working in a B2B or even a B2C sector, special events can keep your customers engaged. In a B2B setting events like webinars, training, and conference appearances give you an opportunity to get face-time with customers to build rapport and trust, as well as educate them on the benefits of your products.
On the other hand, B2C businesses, like retail shops and salons, might benefit by hosting open houses and other events to promote their products and services, make existing customers feel special, and introduce new customers.
A marketing event. Source
Each customer touch point is part of the customer journey. Positive customer service interaction speaks volumes about your business and continues to let you focus on building customer relations.
An example of a chatbot helping a customer. Source
Building positive customer relationships hinges on promoting customer success. Almost every business or brand will find that customer relations management is essential to ongoing connection and retention.
But how can your business improve customer relations? Consider taking the following actions.
Customers often purchase with their hearts, not their minds. Studies show that "emotionally engaged" customers can spend up to twice as much on brands they feel a loyal connection to, and this can add up quickly.
You can create emotional connections by showing customers how much you care and making them feel special. Consider sending out birthday greetings or offering a special discount during their birthday month. You could also promote your brand values to align with your consumers, recognize and acknowledge repeat customers, and notify customers when a relevant product is added or comes back in stock.
All of these actions can help customers catch feelings and encourage strong customer relations.
How do you know your message is resonating with your customers and sparking a connection? Consider running an A/B test to measure response, engagement, and — ultimately — conversions.
You’ll find that A/B testing allows you to truly determine what phrases, verbiage, images, CTAs, and other elements work best. You can apply A/B testing to your website, emails, or even Facebook posts. Doing so will allow you to see what customers respond to positively.
Don’t force customers to do things your way. Giving them options will help you improve customer relations.
Allow customers to change email preferences, schedule their own recurring orders, choose their own shipping options, reduce service without cancelling, and otherwise empower them to access the products or services specific to their own needs.
Find customers where they are by offering support on their platform of choice. Many of today’s consumers prefer to communicate via text message, on WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. An omnichannel customer service support solution lets you be there for them.
Omnichannel support is a big deal, as businesses that adopt this kind of strategy often see 91% year-over-year customer retention rates when compared to businesses that don’t. Make customer interactions seamless with omnichannel support.
Some tasks are best handled by live agents, whereas others can be delegated to chatbots. You can create more time for agent-customer interaction by using chatbots to respond to simple queries.
You’ll likely find that automating simple customer service functions frees up your staff to focus on what matters. Give them time for conversations — to truly connect with customers — and then watch conversions increase.
Numbers usually tell a story. Analyze data to determine where you are losing customers, and you’ll likely find places where you can improve customer relations. You might see trends: abandoned shopping carts, poorly performing product pages, blog posts without transaction keywords, and other shortfalls you can correct.
If your customers are abandoning their carts, use a chatbot to grab their attention before they click away. Are product pages not performing? Consider rewriting the pages to be more persuasive.
Today’s customers want you to be on their schedules. Chatbots allow you to be available 24/7 to cater to the needs of all customers — even the night owls or very-early birds.
Chatbots can automate conversations and answer questions any time of day. This is essential because today’s consumers expect a quick, if not immediate response, and the chatbot provides a timely solution. Chatbots can answer more that 80% of all standard questions and are an easy way to build customer relations 24/7.
Customer relations are essential to your business’s success. Growth and retention often stem
from building great relationships with consumers. Let your brand capitalize on the right customer relations strategy to foster loyalty and increase conversions.
Implementing the right methods and strategies can supercharge your customer relations. From integrating with the right CRM to following the examples above, you’ll find that these robust strategies will very likely increase customer acquisition, satisfaction, and retention.
Are you ready to build a customer relations strategy and start taking advantage of all the ongoing benefits? Look for an omnichannel solution to meet your customers where they are. The right omnichannel messaging tool will provide cross-platform conversations, analytics, smart chatbots, live chat, and automation. JivoChat can do all of that.
Engage visitors with JivoChat live chat and chatbots, and give your agents more time to build meaningful connections with your customers.
Create a free JivoChat account and supercharge your customer relations today!
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