An excerpt from

A customer is the best friend of any small business owner and their relationship is key to any marketing strategy. Customers play a vital role in brand building and positioning your products in this competitive market. There may be many reasons why a customer/client may have left you. Some of the common reasons that you are bound to hear from them are:

  • Your products were priced too high.
  • Your customer service was bad.
  • Your competitors were giving them better offers.
  • Your firm was not communicating with them and they felt neglected.

Be a Great Team Member

1. Two-way communication strikes a rapport – You should realize that customers have every right to voice their needs and opinions. In the process of building customer relations “listening” is just as important as “telling.” Ask them for feedback by sending surveys, e-newsletters and provide them with an opportunity to voice their opinions through social media or on your blog. They will feel the comfort of knowing someone is listening to their opinions and suggestions.

2. Reach out to your customers – You really need to know who your customers are in order to succeed in your business. You need to communicate with them to understand their preferences and tastes. Send them soft-selling messages and newsletters which highlight the advantages of using your products/services. The frequency of communication depends on the type of industry and seasonality. However, you can communicate with your customers through e-mail, over the phone, direct mail and also by face-to-face. Your messages should be thought provoking.

3. Be personal with your customers – Always keep in mind that it is cheaper to market to your existing customers than your potential ones. Therefore, it would be ideal to build a personal connection with your customers. Once a successful sale has been made, send the customer a simple thank you letter. It could do wonders to your image and the customers will also feel that you care for them. For their anniversaries, you can send them a card with a special offer for your goods or services.

4. Loyalty/Reward Program – Reward programs are another way to build an everlasting customer relationship. You can offer graduated rewards in which the more they spend the more they will get in return. If you have a list of loyal customers, send out discount coupons on your products/services during off season. This will remind your loyal customers of your company and its products/services.

5. Special business events are not for selling – Your clients and customers would appreciate an invitation to events. These promotional events will help retain the interest of your clients and give your staff an opportunity to interact with them. This is a time to help your clients/customers understand more about your wide array of products/services. Here you are helping them make a decision to buy but you are not selling them anything. These events will help build trust in your brand and they will appreciate your effort.

6. Offer good customer service – A customer would choose to buy your products over your competitors if you offer great customer support. When you have a top-notch customer service team working for you, it will help to increase your sales through positive word-of mouth experiences.  Customer service plays a vital role in brand building and attracting new customers.

7. Give a thought to multilingual programs – Remember, not everyone understands English. If your target audience is very ethnically diverse, then it would be wise to invest in a multicultural marketing program. You can have marketing brochures and workers who are bilingual who speak two languages. Ethnic audiences will not only appreciate your efforts but will feel that you have taken your services/products a step further to reach out to them. Having a bilingual customer service team will add an edge to your customer relationship building.

8. Set up direct meetings – Add a personal touch by meeting with clients face-to-face. There are times when it’s better that you set up meetings with your clients than send a subordinate. This will help you get the feel of what your clients want, and it also helps to understand the challenges your customers face. It really helps to visit the trenches once in a while. If you have a storefront business, perfect! You already have impromptu meetings each time a customer walks in the door.