3 Ways to Build Customer Relationships
Building customer relationships is important to any business. In today's world, it's not enough to just satisfy a customer by providing a product or a service. Nowadays you have to engage and interact with customers on different levels in order to not only achieve real customer satisfaction, but to also connect with them beyond your transaction-based relationship.
There are a number of ways to realize this new level of customer satisfaction, and if you guessed that technology plays a critical role in each, you'd be right.
Let's take a closer look at three modern ways to engage customers:
- Social Media Platforms
- Digital Signage Installations
- Email Marketing Campaigns
Each method has its own benefits and not every method may be right for you and your customers, so be sure to consider the needs and habits of your target audience.
Social Media Platforms
Still the hottest topic in marketing, PR, and advertising, using social media platforms to connect to your audience is a relatively easy and popular way to build your customer relationships. There are a few basic things to consider though, before you devote time and resources to developing your presence on any given platform.
First, consider your audience. What is their demographical makeup? Are they comprised primarily of young, Caucasian women? If so, Pinterest is the place to be. Or is your audience more college educated young men? Then find the proper sub-Reddit and start sharing your thought leadership.
Second, consider what you have to offer to engage your customers. Do you have good thought leadership? If so, you'll want to make an initial post to your blog and then share that link with your customers on your chosen social media platforms. If you don't have thought leadership pieces to share yet, don't worry. Some platforms like Twitter thrive on a mere 140 characters, and images or humor are always well received.
Lastly, be sure to monitor your social media account(s) to make sure you don't miss out on customers trying to interact with you. However, also be sure to avoid the pitfall of micromanaging your posts. It's all too easy to want to check back every two minutes to see how well your post is doing, but that can cost you valuable time you could be spending on other projects.
Digital Signage Installations
For our readers with brick and mortar locations which are often frequented by customers, signage has always been a key part in building customer relationships. But the days of static images posted to banners or composite paper signs are gone. For that matter, so are the days of video monitors or rotating signage which might have been able to offer up to four messages (think of fast food menu boards switching from breakfast to lunch/dinner). Instead, digital signage allows businesses to offer a near endless variety of messages, promotions, and information to customers. And customers are happy to receive it.
In a world where people are spending ever increasing amounts of time looking at digital screens (smartphones, tablets, etc.), there is a certain level of functionality and interactivity which comes to be expected from the digital screens they encounter in the rest of the world.
For example, McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas opened its new Terminal 3 just last year. This $2.4 billion expansion features signage which not only informs travelers of relevant information about flights, baggage, and gate information, but also helps with wayfinding, features directories and airline, hotel, and destination branding as well.
These sorts of modern features help to engage customers by presenting information they need, in a fashion they not only are used to, but actively enjoy. It's important to put yourself in your customer's shoes and think of how you'd want a business to build a relationship with you. If you enjoy apps and features (touch screens, intuitive menu functions, etc.) on your own smartphone, it makes sense to re-create that experience for your customers when you interact with them.
To find out more about the benefits of digital signage for building customer relationships, consider attending the Digital Signage Expo (DSE) later this month. You can also find out more about digital signage in the transportation industry specifically, by attending the Transportation panel at DSE, Thursday February 28. The panel features a number of industry leaders, including Clark Brown, the Sr. Vice President of Sales in the Americas for NEC Display Solutions. NEC was responsible for the digital signage installed at McCarran. Full Disclosure: NEC Display Solutions is a Tech Image client.
Many people may pan email marketing as something old and outdated (or even an outright bother). We're all on the receiving end of this type of marketing and, while it may have a bad rap, email marketing is quite effective at building customer relationships.
Consider the reasons why people dislike email marketing: messages come too frequently, messages are uninteresting, messages lack incentive, etc. None of these are insignificant, but all too often these issues only crop up when we are already experiencing a strained relationship with a brand. We're more likely to endure too many messages from our favorite brand than one which we've just started purchasing from or which somehow tricked us into signing up.
But beyond the perceived bad, email marketing has a number of positives for building relationships with customers. For example, emails allow you to personalize your messaging to certain customers. If you have enough information on hand about any one person, you can tailor the offers or information they receive. Just think of how you feel when you purchase something from your favorite store and then they end up sending you an email which highlights other items you may be interested in. They would likely send you a follow up email regardless, but since they know your purchasing history with them, they are able to make recommendations and better guide you to items you might find useful.
Another way email marketing can help build customer relationships is through sending non-promotional messages. Banks, dentists, and other services have been doing this for years by sending you a ‘postcard’ in the mail (yes, snail mail) when it’s your birthday. Although you likely don’t think much of this little card, inevitably, it’s the thought that counts, and your bank or dentist gets a few brownie points in your book. The same tactic can be used with email marketing. Offering a customer a freebie on their birthday or just saying “Happy Holidays” in December can go a long way towards winning them over, especially if your competitor is not doing the same.
When you set out to build better customer relationships, remember that there is no single solution which can satisfy every business’s needs. You may have to try a few different methods before you find the one that resonates with your customers, and even then, you may need multiple methods to effectively build relationships with the majority of your customer base.
What strategies and tactics do you use to build relationships with your customers?