In any Business-to-Consumer (B2C) business, there is one universal ground rule – “Customer is king”. Customer relationships are what drive a B2C business and dictate its growth. However, sometimes even the biggest companies ignore the customers in favor of short-term benefits. Time and again, this has proved to be their undoing.
The hopes of developing a better relationship with the customers have led to the rise of CRM marketing tools. But maintaining a good relationship with your customers goes beyond a simple tool; it is a complete methodology. Here are 7 principles that can help you maintain a better customer relationship for your business:
1. Know thy customers
The most basic principle of customer relationship management, it is often overlooked by companies. For building customer relationships, you need to first know what exactly they aspire for. The market is volatile and things can change overnight. Services that were once valued could become obsolete in a moment.
Nokia, for instance, never bothered to know what the mobile phone consumers actually want. The oversight on its part led to the mobile giant's eventual demise. It’s only later when the company realized its shortcoming that the company is now slowly ebbing its way back in the market, keeping customers at the fore.
Therefore, you need to keep a constant track of your customer’s requirements and needs. There are more than one ways to do that. You can keep a track of their movements on your website, which could be analyzed to give you insights. You can, alternatively, hold surveys that might give you direct insights into their needs. Knowing customer requirements is the basic principle that would dictate all subsequent principles of CRM.
2. Have a better interaction
Lurking behind a curtain and never giving direct answers might work well for God, but it would definitely not work for you. In order to manage profitable customer relationships, you have to interact with your customers.
Social media is often a great platform to do so, so make sure you have a strong presence there. The previous principle of "know thy customer" could be easily achieved if you have a good interaction with them.
3. Respect customer individuality
Customers are individuals, and that's how you must treat them. One marketing strategy never works for all customers. Even if you are targeting a specific demographic, you need to create further segments.
Since every customer matters, you need to try dealing with each one of them as per the needs. Your business must offer something for every segment of customers you deal with so that no one is left out. Not only would it increase your sales, but also help build brand loyalty.
4. Have a single face
Your company must echo the same ethos while dealing with every customer throughout the globe. It might seem to be in direct contrast with the previous principle, but it really isn't. While addressing the needs of every customer is important, it should not appear that you are trying to please everyone.
Imagine if KFC started supporting veganism while their brand stands in direct contrast to the concept. If customers feel that you have no fixed ethics, they would start losing trust in you. Thus, the idea and ethos of your company must be the same, no matter what segment or demographic you are targeting.
5. Share the CRM values with your employees
Quite often, customers get disgruntled with a company because the ground employees do not echo the same values as that of the brand itself. Simply stating that you value your customers and extending it to your customer support and sales team is not enough. You need to ensure that every single employee of your company shares the same vision. Only when the smallest unit of the company learns to value the customers with the same zeal will CRM be truly effective.
For that purpose, you must share the insights you draw from the previous principle with your colleagues and subordinates. Using good CRM marketing tools can also contribute to that effect. Everyone in the organization should be aware of the best ways about having effective customer relationships.
6. Focus on sales, not discount
One common trap most businesses fall into is overusing the concept of discounts. They believe that reduced costs would be the best way to make customers happy. However, this is not really true. While discounts do have their benefits, they cannot replace the importance of customer relationships in any way.
For instance, Apple clearly remains a favorite with customers despite its high prices because they have excellent customer relations. Better relations with customers mean more sales, which would naturally increase your revenue.
In simple words, you can get the same (or even more) revenue by having better customer relations, without cutting down the costs of your product/services.
7. Balance between customer and your interests
Sometimes, too much pleasing of customers may result in losses for you. Such cases result in a conflict of interest and make you wonder if incurring losses for the sake of keeping customers happy is worth it. However, it is not so difficult to strike a balance between the two.
You must value your customers while increasing value for them. In turn, they would help you in improving your sales, and therefore, your revenue. But remember, building customer relationships is not an easy task. It is a long-term strategy with long-lasting gains.
Customer relationships form the backbone of any business. It would be a big mistake to overlook the interest of your customers for any other factor. By managing profitable customer relationships, you can be sure of building a loyal base of customers who can take your business to greater heights.