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Ok, let’s be honest: Some customers are simply worth more to your business than others. These high-value customers do more than just buy your products and services. They are loyal, repeat customers who consistently give rave reviews (both online and off) and generate business for you — often for free. In other words, they offer the highest customer lifetime value (CLV) for your business, so you want to keep them around for a very long time.
So how do you build and nurture these high-value customer relationships? Here are three major ways:
1. Identify your most valuable customers
Keep in mind, this is likely more nuanced than identifying which customers spend the most money. For instance, let’s say a small bakery sells a variety of goods — from muffins and pastries to high-end wedding cakes. A loyal customer, who happens to be an event planner, routinely recommends the bakery to all of her clients. She also actively features their baked goods on her social media pages where she posts photos and videos of her catered events.
So what could this bakery do to keep this outstanding customer? An obvious answer is to offer referral discounts. In the case of the event planner, the bakery could offer a frequent-buyer discount or a corporate account that would allow her to pass savings onto her customers (which in turn helps the event planner offer more competitive prices to her market). The bakery also wins because the event planner gets their products in front of a wider audience who may have never heard about them otherwise.
2. Humanize the customer experience
There’s a very good chance that your best customers will say that they love the experience with your company as much or more than your actual product or service. Consider that nearly 80% of American consumers say that speed, convenience, and friendly and knowledgeable customer service are the most important factors in their experience with a company.
Humanizing the customer experience is more important than ever in the era of contactless transactions. But how do you do that when so much of the buying experience is impersonal, and even in-person interactions require masks and distancing?
In the era of COVID, technology has helped us to personalize the customer experience in innovative (and crucial) ways. Companies of all sizes can use automated customer relationship management (CRM) solutions that generate insights across the entire customer journey. This can help business owners anticipate when to follow up after a purchase, re-establish contact with old customers, and empower employees to provide better customer service.
However, it’s important to note that even the best-run and most efficient companies can sometimes disappoint customers. But after making a mistake, you need to make it right — and quickly. Business owners should give employees leeway to make adjustments, such as instantly replacing or refunding damaged items on the spot without needing a manager’s approval. Or, if an online order contains the wrong items, an employee can not only ship the correct order for free, but also offer free shipping on a future order to maintain that customer’s goodwill. When things go wrong, as they will, this is how companies can earn a customer’s forgiveness and trust, which can actually build an even stronger relationship.
The KFM Service Desk team have played a key role in supporting King’s College NHS Foundation Trust during the #Covid-19 pandemic, here are some of the ways the team delivered a high-quality service... #CustomerService #NHS pic.twitter.com/ZfcVKsFsVL— KFM (@kfm_uk) February 16, 2021
3. Establish trust as the basis of long-term customer relationships
The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the way most people live, as well as their priorities. Customers are facing unprecedented challenges, some of which haven’t changed since the onset of the pandemic a year ago. Companies that can respond and adapt to the changing needs of their customers don’t just benefit from increased sales and exposure, they also gain the trust of their customers.
For example, when hand sanitizer shortages became critical in the early stages of the pandemic, many alcohol distilleries in Austin, Texas rapidly shifted from producing spirits to hand sanitizer. Not only did they start producing mass quantities within days, but they also sold them at fair prices, delivered them for free, and prioritized distribution to healthcare facilities and other critical providers. With this small change, these companies not only provided an essential product and service, they brought hope and good news to customers during an extremely challenging time.
Key takeaway: The experience is everything
Perhaps now more than at any time in recent history, customers want to build relationships with companies they trust. They want more than just reliable products and services that deliver on their promises — they want to source them from companies whose values align with their own. So whether you’re a mattress company that provides shelter after devastating storms or a local coffee roaster that sources fair-trade beans, it’s important to remember that the customer experience with your brand involves far more than just the sale. It’s embedded in everything you say and do.
Want to take your customer relationships to the next level? Check out our latest posts about building great customer experiences.