Building trust with customers isn’t a one-time event. It’s a process that happens over time—and it’s essential for any business that wants to keep its customers happy and loyal.
It involves taking the time to learn about their pain points, preferences, and values—from the very first interaction up until the very last, and then creating a plan of action. But doing so is easier said than done.
That’s why we’re delving into the basics of developing customer relationships, from identifying customer needs to implementing processes that ensure their satisfaction. By using these strategies consistently, you can build relationships that stand the test of time and give your customers an unforgettable experience every time they interact with your business.
Why businesses need to prioritize long-term sales relationships
For starters, retaining customers is much more cost-effective than trying to acquire new ones. Customer retention on average costs almost five times less than trying to acquire new customers.
This is because the success rate of selling to a customer who is already familiar with your brand and the quality of your product is much higher (60%) than trying to convert people who are clueless about your brand and have no experience with your product (5-20%).
When customers feel valued, they're more likely to come back and may even recommend your business to others, boosting your acquisition in the process. Additionally, businesses that prioritize customer relationships can better understand their needs and tailor their services accordingly, resulting in better customer service.
Not only does this result in reduced expenditure on acquisition, but increased revenue from loyal customers over time.
How to establish trust and credibility with customers
Start by asking questions
When going into a client meeting, it's tempting to jump right into presenting ideas or pitching. But fostering a stronger rapport with a customer involves putting the focus on the customer from the beginning.
Taking a moment to reconfirm objectives and ask about their current priorities can uncover valuable insights, helping you tailor your pitch to be more relevant. Even if time is tight, investing a few minutes to gather some basic information can significantly enhance the meeting's success.
People already know how it feels to be sold to and they’re coming into the meeting with that expectation. So if you can demonstrate that you view your customer as more than just a lead and you’re willing to personalize your approach, they’ll feel much more valued.
Understand your customers’ needs
Customer mindsets, needs, and behaviors change so rapidly because they have more choices than ever before, which is why understanding customer needs means prioritizing listening. Listening can be done by getting direct feedback from customers via surveys or reviews—but it’s also crucial to understand what customers don’t directly tell you by keeping up with wider trends.
You can uncover this information by paying attention to new developments or technology within your industry or even by analyzing competitors. This way, you can know what customers are interested in before they even have to ask for it in a survey or complain in a review.
Communication is key to any successful relationship—and that’s no different when it comes to the relationship between businesses and customers. But it’s not enough to simply send information to your customers through email—building lasting relationships with customers is all about creating a meaningful, constant stream of communication.
Most sales typically aren’t made at first contact—80% of sales take an average of five follow-ups to close, yet 44% of sales reps give up on their prospects after following up only once, and only 8% follow up six or more times. But following up with customers shouldn’t stop after the sale—retaining customers means making it as attractive and easy as possible for them to keep coming back.
This means providing regular updates on new products and offerings to get customers ready and excited for what’s upcoming. It also means providing good customer service by being readily available to answer questions and address concerns.
Focus on exceptional customer service
Businesses that prioritize customer service and invest in training their employees to deliver a high level of service can differentiate themselves from competitors and build strong relationships with their customers. But good customer service isn’t just about training your staff—sometimes it’s just as simple as giving customers choices when they need to talk to someone at your business.
40% of consumers say having “multiple options for communicating” is the most important customer service feature a company can offer, whether those options include the use of chatbots, email, or phone calls. But 27% of customers also say ineffective service is the number one frustration when it comes to customer service.
This might look like endlessly bouncing customers around from one person in your company to the next or directing them to an automated system that can’t address their specific issue. And the result? After more than one bad experience, around 80% of customers say they’d prefer to do business with someone else. However, if a business’s customer service is great, 78% of consumers are willing to forgive a mistake and remain customers.
Empower your staff to deliver a good customer experience
When thinking about customer service, it may also be helpful to reconsider the way you view the support hierarchy of your business. Take Nordstrom’s organization chart below, for example. Unlike most businesses where a board of directors or executives sits at the top, the pyramid is inverted so that the customers do instead.
The customers are then supported by frontline, customer-facing workers, like sales and sales support, who are empowered by their higher-up managers, all of who are held up by the board of directors at the very bottom. The result is a set of policies and a company culture reflecting the idea that those closest to the customer should be given the most support.
Personalize the customer experience
No one wants to feel like just another sale when they’re spending hard-earned money. In fact, 80% of customers are more likely to buy from companies that provide a tailored experience. When you address customers by name, discuss their specific needs, provide them with a customized offer, and appeal to where they are in the buyer’s journey, this shows that you’re serious and that you’re paying attention to them.
When it comes to communication, personalizing the experience can also look like providing customers with a single, easily-accessible point of contact at your company. This not only makes them feel prioritized, but it also elevates the customer service experience.
Tactics you can use to build long-term customer loyalty and relationships
Let’s now explore some practical actions you can take to foster strong long-term relationships with your customers.
Follow up with personal congratulations
At the end of the day, your customers are people with lives, families, and milestones of their own. One very simple way you can show a customer that you’re listening, you think about them, and you see them as an individual is to send a short and sweet congratulatory note. If your client’s business has just won an award, send your compliments.
If they just hosted a big event or conference, give them your best regards and ask how it went. Even a simple Happy Birthday wish is a great way to show that you’re paying attention while giving you another opening for authentic communication.
Share some relevant industry news
The goal here is to still offer your customer something valuable and relevant, even if it doesn’t directly have to do with your product. Take some time to brush up on what your clients are most interested in, find out what news is most affecting their business, and if you can, provide them with a useful resource they can take advantage of.
This also allows you to start another dialogue with your customer so that they can educate you further about any concerns or plans that might have gone unsaid otherwise.
Go back to the basics
Even when a client relationship is progressing smoothly, it's always beneficial to touch base and reevaluate. This is particularly vital for long-standing relationships, as it's easy to take them for granted. But the initial understanding of your client's needs has likely evolved over time, so staying updated on their current situation and future objectives is crucial.
In addition to regular check-ins, schedule meetings to gain insights into your client's current challenges so that they can see you’re actively working to provide new solutions. This proactive approach can also reduce the risk of being dismissed by a client who feels you no longer align with their goals.
Come with new ideas
Your customers, like you, lead busy lives, and while they may appreciate new ideas, they may not have the time or resources to generate or implement them. Just as you stay in the know about a customer’s evolving strategies and goals, if you notice or come up with any new opportunities that could give your customer an edge or make their lives easier, share those ideas.
Doing so not only shows your client that you’re keeping them top-of-mind, but it also highlights you as someone who takes initiative and thinks creatively about solving their problems.
Make signing and renewing contracts easier with Dropbox Sign
A plethora of tools exists to make maintaining customer relationships easier than ever before. But when it comes to closing the sale and renewing your contracts, you can also leverage eSignatures to make these processes much more seamless.
Dropbox Sign helps you close deals faster with the ability to prepare and send contracts for signature from the comfort of your CRM. Customers can then sign those contracts electronically, within a matter of minutes.
Then, when it’s time to renew, your contracts will be neatly stored in a single place for easy access, allowing you to speed up the renewal process and get back to doing your best work.