Why do most of your customers buy from your business over your competition?

Is it because you have a better looking logo or a fancier website that the others? Although this may influence them to a certain degree, the real reason is likely because of the relationship they have with your brand.

One of the biggest returns on investment you can make to your marketing is to focus on strengthening your customer relationships.

This means really taking a value first approach. Not just focusing on how they can help your business, but how you can be of service to them.

So, how can you start to strengthen that relationship, especially online? Let’s break it down.

 

Deliver Exceptional Customer Service

Whether you’re dealing with customers online or offline, you first need to begin with the fundamentals. Start by delivering exceptional customer service.

This means going the extra mile to make sure they get the very best experience with your business. It means exceeding their expectations.

A great principle from Josh Kaufman’s, The Personal MBA is about how Quality = Performance – Expectations.

The quality of your service is all about your actual performance, minus the expectations the customer has about your business heading into the experience.

In the book Josh talks about how Zappos would offer next day delivery, even when customers didn’t expect to receive their order until several days later.

By doing this, and not advertising it, Zappos exceeded the customers expectations and build up the perceived quality of their service.

My biggest tip is to not underestimate the power of exceptional customer service, and finding small ways to go above and beyond.

 

Be Responsive & Engage Everywhere

Being responsive is one of those tiny things that everybody forgets has a massive impact on how your customers perceive you.

If people can see you’re actually taking the time to respond to comments, answer questions and reply back to the reviews you get – it shows that you care.

It’s easy to get caught up in running your business and all the work that needs doing. However, finding time throughout your day to respond to customers is where it all counts.

Even more so in today’s day and age. With platforms such as Facebook and Instagram offering such easy access to companies inboxes, it’s almost as if customers expect them to be as responsive as they would with a friend.

This means you need to keep up. Even if it’s just 10 minute breaks throughout your busy day to stop, take a breather, and reply to some comments. Just do it. You’ll thank yourself later when your audience starts to see how much you care.

 

Personalise Experiences & Marketing

With more and more online tools coming out every week, personalised marketing experiences have become the norm and not the exception.

This means you really should be investing in ways that allow you to personalise each user experience. Find ways to segment your customer base and offer the personalised experiences when buying from you.

It may mean getting them to fill out a short survey when purchasing from you, then using that data to personalise future marketing messages. From here you could only show them the types of products and deals that relate to their specific needs.

It also might mean getting more personal in communication.

As Dale Carnegie taught us in his book How To Win Friends & Influence People, the sweetest word anyone can hear is the sound of their own name.

This same principle can be applied online, personalising messages, responses to comments, and even emails.

Start building that connection, as if that customer is a life-long friend you wouldn’t want to lose.

 

Reward Brand Advocates

How do you reward the customers and followers who go above and beyond for your brand?

When I talk about this strategy with business owners, they always think that they need to give away free merchandise or break their bank to reward their brand advocates.

It doesn’t need to be like that. In fact, not every reward needs to cost you an arm and leg to offer.

You could offer a special rewards program for brand advocates who help bring in referrals for your business. That way, you know you’re making the money back.

Why not even offer special brand advocates who have been selected by you and exclusive chance to see new stock before anybody else? This is incredibly valuable, especially if they love your products. Plus, it’s not costing you money to give it away.

Think about how you can reward the people championing your brand. Recognise them for the hard work they’re putting in to spread your message.

 

Final Thoughts

As more and more elements of our businesses move online, don’t be so quick to forget the basic principles of business. We’re all in the business of delivering a service, whether you think you are or not.

The way you deal with customers and how you strengthen those relationships will have massive effects, now and into the future.