Today’s modern economy is increasingly competitive with companies in all industries fighting to attract and retain customers. So what can companies do to ensure success? The answer lies in building relationships with customers and creating an emotional connection between the customer and the brand. Employees play a vital role in this process, yet employees often lack the proper knowledge, skills, and training in fostering customer relationships. Here are 3 tips on how your employees can foster relationships, resulting in increased customer satisfaction, sales, and loyalty.
1) Focus on Helping Customers: So much of fostering customer relationships is based on attitude, thus employees must come to each interaction with a mindset of helping the customer. Trust is established when employees express genuine concern for the customer’s needs and goals, and provide meaningful solutions for the customer. This process starts with actively listening to what the customer is saying. Employees should be trained on effective listening skills and how to pick up on cues, both verbal and non-verbal. Next, employees must be able to ask appropriate follow up questions. These open-ended questions should help employees become oriented with the situation or problem the customer is facing, determine what needs to happen to resolve the issue, and understand the customer’s expectations. Last, employees must be able to present the products or services that will be of value to the customer. Employees must do so in a way that comes across as authentic and not about making a sale. Proper knowledge of the company’s offerings and the ability to explain actual client results from these offerings is key to properly helping customers make decisions.
2) Personalize and Customize: Customers want to feel special, yet this is becoming increasingly challenging in today’s automated world. Employees must take the time to get to know their customers so they can personalize their offerings/experience. Technology is useful in tracking prior purchases and collecting customer information, but employees must properly use this technology in order for it to be effective. Consider how a customer would feel when checking into a hotel and being asked if this is their first time staying at the hotel, despite having stayed at the hotel several times in the past. When customers feel as though they are just a number or that their prior business was not appreciated, the connection to the brand/company is diminished. Employees must be confident in asking meaningful questions to get to know the customer and customizing offerings that will be of value to the customer. When customers feel appreciated and special, they are more likely to increase their spending, continue doing business with the company, and refer others to the company.
3) Follow Up and Stay in Touch: A relationship is not built on transactions. Relationships must be fostered through continued communication. The key is for this communication to be meaningful. Customers are bombarded with emails, messages, and calls from companies, thus employees must communicate with customers in a way that is of value. Whether it is through sending thank you or birthday cards, a check-in email from time to time, or a call to see how things are going post purchase, there are many ways to stay connected and make it meaningful for the customer. Employees should have a communication plan for each of their clients, and understand their clients’ preferences for communication, including their preferred communication method (email, text, call) and frequency of communication. Employees should commit enough time to properly following up with clients at all levels, not just VIP clients. Fostering relationships takes time and effort, but there are great dividends to be had in the form of increased future business and referrals.
At SGEi, we focus on leadership, sales, and service training. We offer a variety of training programs customized to your company’s needs. Connect with us to learn how we can enhance your employees’ customer service skills.