Business relationships, much like any other relationships, are built on mutual trust. It must be the bedrock of any healthy, lasting relationship. Ultimately, relationships are like house plants—if you don’t tend to them, they will eventually die. That’s why nurturing customer relationships is so important.
In large part, nurturing customer relationships boils down to delivering a stellar customer experience. Most of the tips below contribute to a better overall customer experience. This is important because the customer experience is becoming the new driver of consumers’ buying decisions. And this will continue to be the case.
When you deliver a great customer experience, customer satisfaction levels rise. If you maintain world-class levels of customer satisfaction, nurturing customer relationships will become much easier. And customer retention will naturally follow.
But how do you reach world-class customer satisfaction levels? One of the most important tactics is to devote much effort to nurturing customer relationships.
Need a quick definition of customer nurturing? It boils down to focusing on their needs before your own and building trust that will solidify your relationship with them into the future. Let’s dig in to unpack the issue.
9 tips for nurturing customer relationships
As Harold Saunders said in his best-selling book, “Politics is about relationships.” In many ways, business is like politics. It’s about who you know, and how you can leverage those relationships to fulfill your goals. Saunders should know, he won The Walter and Leonore Annenberg Award for Excellence in Diplomacy. And diplomacy is incredibly important in business. It’s essential to your ability to establish trust with your customers.
If you’re asking yourself how to nurture existing customers, this article is for you. Below are our top nine tips for excelling at it.
1. Use customer relationship management software
This might seem like a no-brainer at this point, but many businesses continue to operate without customer relationship management (CRM) software in place. How does CRM software help in nurturing customer relationships? Well, the name says it all. But we can dig in a little for good measure.
CRM software helps companies nurture customer relationships by:
- Storing loads of personal and demographic data about each customer so you can gain a comprehensive understanding of who they are
- Automating time-consuming, manual processes so you can spend more time focusing on interactions with customers
- Allowing you to automate the online appointment scheduling process, making life easier on your customers
- Giving you the insight into each customer you need to personalize your communications to them
- Storing all data from all your teams in a single database, so everyone has access to that deep insight into each customer
- And more
The point here is that without CRM software, it’s increasingly difficult to nurture customer relationships, and therefore, differentiate your brand and remain competitive in your market.
2. Shift more attention to customer retention
Far too many businesses focus too heavily on new customer acquisition than customer retention. Although the allure of signing new customers is attractive, and indeed necessary for business growth, you should find a balance between making that a priority and retaining existing customers. It’s a super important customer nurturing strategy.
After all, according to Forbes, 80% of a business’s future revenue will be generated from just 20% of the company’s existing customers.
Plus, consider the fact that it costs at least five times more on average to acquire a customer than it does to retain one.
Now, ponder this: Increasing customer retention rates by a mere 5% will increase company profits by 25% to 95%.
Finally—and I hate to bore you with statistics, but—repeat customers will ultimately spend 67% more on your products or services that new customers.
Add all that up, and you’ll clearly see how important it is to maintain a focus on customer retention. Repeat customers display more brand loyalty and provide a reliable source of recurring revenue.
3. Improve Customer Effort Score
There are many ways to measure customer satisfaction. But one that stands out as having a direct correlation to the health of your customer relationships is Customer Effort Score (CES).
CES measures the amount of effort a customer had to devote to a specific interaction with your company. If a customer calls support and must wait a week for a resolution, that indicates that they had to put lots of effort into getting their issue solved. They may have to call back multiple times and put work on hold until support finally provides a resolution, etc.
When a customer must put too much effort into a specific interaction, they walk away with a bad taste in their mouth. This hurts your relationship with that customer.
So, focus on improving your CES as a key factor in nurturing customer relationships. Measuring CES is easy—check out this article to learn how to measure CES.
4. Increase first contact resolution rate
First contact resolution (FCR) rate refers to the number of support tickets that your team resolves on the first attempt. It means solving their problem immediately, rather than having to get back to them while you look for the answer to their question.
The longer a customer must wait for a resolution to a support query, the thinner their patience grows. To drive this home, consider that 77% of consumers report that valuing their time is the most important thing a business can do when delivering a service.
One thing you can do to improve your FCR rate is to leverage dedicated help desk groups. These are customer support groups that focus on one product or service so that customers always receive expert advice on the first attempt. Learn how to boost your FCR rate using help desk groups.
5. Develop a customer advisory board
We recently published an article on this blog that outlines what a customer advisory board is, how to develop one, and the benefits you receive from having one. Check out that article here.
Customer advisory boards give your customer base a voice and allow them to offer suggestions around product enhancements and insight into the quality of service you offer them, to name a few.
If you show your customers that you are listening to their needs and implementing changes based on their feedback, you will illustrate to them that you are genuinely invested in their success. It’s a great tactic for nurturing customer relationships.
6. Solve problems for them
When forming your strategy around nurturing customer relationships, you should think about how you can solve a common problem your audience faces. You can achieve this by mastering content marketing.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask yourself what they likely struggle with daily. You can even run an annual online customer survey to gather that insight straight from the source.
Once you have a list of topics (i.e., problems your customers face), you can start to draft content that addresses those problems and offers solutions. This content isn’t intended to sell your product. Rather, its purpose is to educate readers.
Once your audience starts to see you as a brand that solves their problems on a regular basis, they will start coming to you for advice when they have problems in the future. This positions you as an authority in your space and will win you loads of goodwill points with your customers. They will see you’re not just there to take their money, but rather that you are invested in their success and are making efforts to ensure they are successful.
When customers know they can rely on you when they need insight into emerging trends or best practices around common processes in your space, they will start to trust you as an authority. And as mentioned above, all relationships are built upon trust. So, make this part of your strategy for nurturing customer relationships. Learn more about content marketing.
7. First impressions matter: Prioritize onboarding and training
When you sign a new customer, you have a golden opportunity to set the tone of your future relationship with them.
If your product requires training to use it effectively, be sure to offer free training to new clients. If you sell a software product, you should roll training into the onboarding and implementation process.
If users can’t effectively leverage your product, they won’t use it, and you’ll lose customers. So, make training and onboarding a priority to show customers you truly care about their success. Doing so will build trust and help you form close relationships with customers from day one. Learn what to look for in a robust implementation and training program.
8. Engage them on social media
When someone posts to your social media sites or mentions your brand in a post, a door opens for you to engage that customer. People expect rapid responses on social media and responding quickly should be your goal.
If someone asks a question, mentions your brand, makes a complaint about your company, etc., you need to jump on it. When you show customers that you are listening and attentive to their needs on social media, they will respect and trust you even more.
Regardless of whether it’s a negative or positive comment doesn’t matter. You need to engage posters as quickly as possible.
You can do this with the help of social listening and monitoring software that alerts you when someone mentions you on social media. Then you can respond immediately, showing customers that you truly care about what they have to say.
Learn more about how social listening benefits your business.
Nurturing customer relationships is incredibly important these days. The customer experience and customer satisfaction are two variables that can make or break a business. And by nurturing customer relationships, you improve both.
It’s important to train your employees on basic client relationship building skills and teach them how to nurture business relationships. Once you do that and follow the tips above, you will start to excel at nurturing customer relationships. This will result in lower customer churn, more satisfied customers, and help solidify the future success of your business.
Which tactics are you using in your business to nurture customer relationship? Share them with us in the comments section below!