Building Real Relationships with Customers in an Online World

There have been a lot of changes in the way that businesses attract and hold onto customers. Once upon a time, direct mailings, newspaper advertisements, and listings in the phone book were enough to get potential customers to check out your business, and more than likely stay with you. Today, that is not near enough to influence customers to become interested in and stay loyal to your business. This is where relationship marketing comes into play.

Relationship marketing is a strategy that emphasizes customer retention, satisfaction, and lifetime customer value. Relationship marketing can be defined as marketing to current customers vs. new customer acquisition. As opposed to transactional marketing’s focus on one-time sales, a good relationship marketing strategy is rooted in building customer loyalty and lasting, long-term engagement with your customer base.

Customers want to feel that they know you and your business. They need to feel that they are important to you, that they matter and with other businesses just a few clicks or swipes away, they can easily move on if they don’t feel valued.

Most businesses focus on bringing in new customers, and this should still be a major focus, but it is vital that businesses do not take for granted their existing customer base. It now costs 6-7 times more to attract a new customer than to engage an existing customer. Once a customer has decided on your business, you want to hold onto them. The way to keep customers and have them giving you positive reviews is to build a relationship with them. Respond to their communications and be responsive to their concerns.

Your customers will be looking up your business online, exploring your website, checking out the reviews on various sites, and discussing you over various social media outlets. Word of mouth has expanded in ways that were unimaginable a decade ago; one person’s tweet can reach potentially thousands of other people. You want to use these tools to ensure that you have repeat business, a positive reputation, and happy customers who communicate their happiness to others.

Have an active online presence (including Facebook, Google business, Yelp, and Twitter at the very least) with regular, useful updates. Frequently update your website with interesting and useful content. Make it worth their time to check back and explore your online presence.

Keep yourself in your customer’s minds in a positive and enjoyable way. Send them an e-card on their birthday. Have an emailing list to which you send out regular, useful emails, product updates, and coupons. Respond to the reviews they leave online. Answer tweets. Have follow-up surveys to ask about their experience.

These things are new facets of customer service; having good customer service has been the basis of having repeat customers for as long as people have been doing business. Make use of these new tools to build positive relationships with modern customers and keep your business healthy and profitable.