We all know that in any meaningful, ongoing relationship both parties need to be engaged. According to Edelman research, 87% of consumers would like meaningful interactions with companies that serve them, yet only 17% surveyed feel they get this. It’s clear that most people feel their relationships with businesses are one-sided.
In all our relationships, we practice behaviors that keep the relationships growing. We communicate on topics that are important to both parties, we understand what is important to the other person, and we don’t disrespect the other person by treating them like we don’t care. The relationships between companies and consumers are no different, but far too often companies’ behaviors lead consumers to believe “all they want is my money.” Consumers feel they have little value to a company beyond the purchase.
How can you change this in your customer’s relationships with your business? Consider these tips to building meaningful relationships with customers:
1. Realize that relationships that continue past the close of a deal require a basis to move forward beyond the initial transaction. Ongoing relationships are intentional. Begin to learn about your customers before the business transaction is over, and let them learn about you. Then you’ll have something to build on as your relationship grows.
2. Meaningfully thank customers at the close of a transaction for choosing you to serve them A meaningful thank you opens the heart to staying connected and lets customers know you value them. The transition at the close of a transaction is also the time to set the context for the relationship to move forward. Let customers know how and why you would like to stay connected.
3. Find points of connection with your customers that will enhance long-term relationships. Relationships that stay close do so because the people in them have a common interest. When we share something in common with others, staying connected is a natural outcome. Nearly all people have something they care about, and being supportive of these cares is an excellent way to build relationships. If your purpose (see Going Big on Purpose) is to encourage others to do good, you already have everything you need to grow relationships for life.
1. Don’t assume you have an ongoing relationship with customers after the close of a deal because you did a good job and the customer was happy. This is the same as believing you have a meaningful relationship with a friend but you have not communicated in months.
2. Don’t inundate your customers with content they don’t need. When the transaction is complete stop sending updated interest rates if you’re a loan officer, new car models if you just sold a car, and pictures of homes for sale if you’re a realtor. Customers find these gestures irritating. They imply that the customer possibly made a bad decision on the transaction they just completed with you.
3. Don’t speak beyond your expertise. Sending customers cooking and exercise tips is not a good idea unless you are knowledgeable in these areas and your customers understand and respect your knowledge. Customers tell us that they would rather not receive cooking tips from their Realtor and exercise tips from car sales people. Make sure your content is always relevant and appropriate for your audience.
People have emotional needs. Decades of consumer research have always pointed to emotional connections in brand-consumer relationships. The evolution of tools which allow everyone to talk to consumers through multiple mediums has blurred the definition of real relationship. What has not changed is the feelings we have when we are in a relationship that has purpose. By practicing these tips, you can strengthen relationships with your customers, making them deeply meaningful and long-lasting.