Most of us don’t even realize when companies are trying to improve or maintain their relationships with us as customers. Companies might ask for a review of your experience, or send you a happy birthday email with a discount. Without you consciously thinking about how the company is seeking to maintain a relationship with you as a customer, you are left thinking about the company or interested in giving them more business.
The intentional efforts companies put into developing positive relationships with their customers is known as customer relationship management. It aims to build engagement in customers, promote growth in rates of customer retention, and facilitate customer satisfaction. Examples of customer relationship management include both tactics used while a customer is interacting with a company and after they have completed their engagement.
Creating and maintaining happy customers ultimately increases the revenue of your company. While the biggest corporations you can think of use customer relationship management, this strategy is as important for smaller businesses and startups. Taking steps to manage customer satisfaction and engage with customers in new ways will benefit your business tremendously.
1. Identify Customer Needs and Expectations
In order to start building positive customer relationships, you will need to assess what customers are looking for from your company. Certain industries have a larger emphasis on the speed of the service, while others have a larger emphasis on personal connection and engagement with the company. In order to pursue customer relationship management, it’s worth sitting down and asking yourself: what is a non-negotiable for the average client or customer? How can I make that happen?
You can identify the expectations of your typical client or customer by recalling past customer interactions within your startup. Think about what customers have complained about, and what that complaint says about a need your company might need to meet in terms of customer relationship management. You can also think about what you are already doing well in customer relationships within your startup; what have customers loved about your company that you don’t want to poke around with and change?
All of these questions will help you target your customer relationship management plan to the particular needs of your company. It’s important to self-reflect on the current state of your customer satisfaction and retention rates so that the changes you employ are meeting an existing need in your startup. Tailoring your approach to the areas you most want to focus on will maximize the benefits of customer relationship management.
2. Create a Customer Support Team
Customers are more likely to report a positive experience and return to your company for its service when they felt supported during their experience. To facilitate this, creating a customer service team is extremely important. The primary goal of a customer support team is to help assist customers so that they navigate your services with ease and are likely to return to your company because of the support they received from your staff. It helps make your company more approachable and assists the customer in leaving with what they came for.
The customer support team can be put to work in a variety of ways depending on the nature of your startup. If customers often engage with your company online, it could be a great idea to implement live assistance on your website. This will allow customers to ask questions, and can also be an opportunity for your company to introduce customers to other products that may interest them. This will boost customer loyalty as well as improve customer retention.
3. Engage Customers After Their Visit
Engaging customers, once they have already used your services, is one of the most effective ways to encourage customers to return. One of the easiest ways to do this would be to send an automated email thanking them for their business and asking them to review their experience.
Even if for some reason they were dissatisfied with their experience with your company, asking for a review demonstrates that your company cares about their satisfaction and could make them more likely to become repeat customers. If the customer enjoyed your service, asking them to reflect on the experience will help them keep your company in mind when they need the service again.
Another example of engaging customers would be to send a follow-up email with more products and services they may be interested in. This will demonstrate that your company has more to offer than only what the customer experienced, and will encourage them to return to check out the products or services included in your email. These recommendations should be based on the last purchase of the customer so that the customer is more likely to be interested in them.
These efforts to engage customers will generate quite a bit of data. You will need to manage all of this information with software, such as JDE Software, which will organize many aspects of your customer relationship management plan and the information it generates. Additionally, it’s also important to set aside time to not only review the results of your customer engagement efforts but also to devise creative solutions to improve your startup based on what customers are indicating.
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4. Connect with Customers in Multiple Ways
Another way to boost retention is to make sure you are maximizing your chances of connecting with your customers. This means maintaining social media platforms and using them actively, sending emails, and even sending snail mail. By doing this, you will reach the widest range of customers and connect with them more broadly. To target your efforts, generate data to identify on what platform your customers are more likely to engage with your customers.
Customer relationship management is a multifaceted, complex endeavor, but one with tangible rewards. Good customer satisfaction and retention rates are worth investing time and money in. When your customers are satisfied, they will be valuable assets in sharing their experiences with friends and family who, in turn, will be interested in using your company. Building strong customer relationships takes work, but it also yields high rewards and financial success.