How to Build Truly Meaningful Relationships With Your Customers Online

Technology has made it possible to reach out and communicate with potential customers all over the world.

While reaching out can be done in minutes, developing long-lasting relationships with customers takes time and effort. We have a few tips to help you build great customer relationships online…

Get personal for customer loyalty

You can send out an email newsletter to the hundreds or thousands of names on your email list, and if you do it well, they will be grateful. But if you want to build a meaningful relationships, the kind that keeps customers coming back again and again, you might want to think about getting more personal.

Sarah Rapp, Community Manager at Behance, explains how she reaches out personally following social media or customer service interactions…

“If there’s a potential customer I’ve been talking with via customer service or on social media, I often will give them my personal email address and encourage them to get in touch directly if they want a demo, have questions, or just need more encouragement. It’s a little thing that goes a long way – when people feel like they have a dedicated contact at a company, they’re much more inclined to stick with you.”

Remember, your customers probably have other options for similar products or services instead of yours and its these personal connections that will make them want to stick with you.

Communication is a two-way street

Just like you wouldn’t walk up to someone and talk without listening, you can’t just post a bunch of messages online and expect people to pay attention. Communication is just as much about listening as it is talking (and a lot of people would argue more so) so make sure you’re making an effort to really hear your customers.

“When people feel listened to, valued, and important to a company, it’s rare”, says Karen E Klein in BloombergBusinessweek…

“That’s because great service and effective communication are more than a set of skills. It’s a mind-set of respect and accountability where you do what you say you’re going to do for the customer. If every associate in your firm models that mind-set, you’ll create a great experience for everyone.”

Try keeping notes on customers about personal information that you can bring up next time you speak to them. Ask how their holiday was, or make a product recommendation based on a personal comment they made in passing once.

Results driven customer interaction

Like most business efforts, you want to have a goal in mind and measure your progress towards that goal.

CEO of Get Satisfaction, Wendy Lea, points out how and why you should have a goal in mind for your customer interactions…

“While traditionally the product team manages product and marketing is responsible for increasing brand awareness and driving sales, the lines are blurred now. Nurturing an ongoing and genuine relationship with your customers will naturally make a major impact in both these arenas… Naturally, how you engage with your customers impacts how customers view your brand… That means that all your customer engagement efforts should lead clearly in the direction of resolution.”

Figure out what both you and your customers want from your interactions, and how you can align your goals to provide the best experience for everyone. Your customer doesn’t want to buy yet? Don’t be pushy, focus on building a rapport so they remember you for next time. They’re dissatisfied with a purchase? Help them resolve their issue so they see your brand as helpful and honest.

Conclusion

If you want to form strong relationships that will keep your customers coming back, you need to offer personal interactions that will help them trust you. Instead of going for the hard sell, sit back and listen to what your customers have to say and work with them to come up with a solution that suits everyone.

How do you engage with customers online? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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