How To Build Relationships With Customers

By the end of this blog you will be able to see how relationship marketing and ‘permission based’ marketing are essential to CRM and eCRM.

What is Relationship Marketing?

Marketing is all about relationships. Relationships with customers, lapsed customers and potential customers. There are also relationships with suppliers, partners and even internal audiences (staff). So although relationship marketing involves more than just customers, we’re focusing on customers.

CRM – Customer Relationship Management

Relationship marketing shifts marketing away from short-term transactional marketing (with its one-off sales) towards developing longer lasting relationships which, ideally, develop into lifetime customers. This obviously generates more profitable repeat business as well as increased share of wallet or customer share.

Building relationships is a delicate affair. Marketers have to gain permission firstly, then trust and ultimately, loyalty. It’s all common sense stuff. Sticking to basic marketing tenets of identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer needs relentlessly helps to build relationships.

How To Build Relationships With Customers

But how do you build relationships with customers? Firstly, adopt a ‘permission based marketing‘ approach.

There are several steps towards permission marketing:
1. permission
2. collaboration
3. dialogue

Permission marketers develop the relationship and win further permission to talk on a regular basis. Some excellent permission-based marketers actually get permission to place orders on the customer’s behalf. Other permission-based marketers even deliver right into the customer’s buildings without the customer opening the door!

How To Build Relationships Using A Series of Stages

In developing the relationship there are a series of stages through which the customer moves. There are several approaches one of which is the Ladder Of Loyalty.

Suspects > Prospects > Customers > Clients > Advocates.

When a customer ‘Opts In’ for further email, they give permission to be emailed. This is a first step in using their permission to develop the relationship. Do not abuse this permission. Make sure you don’t pass their details on to other marketers. Ensure your future contact with the customer always adds value.Remember you have to respect this relationship – this special permission you have. Be brave enough to offer the customer the option to ‘Opt Out’.

The number of customers that opt out from further contact is known as the ‘Churn rate’. Obviously good marketers watch the churn rate closely. Too much contact can wear out the relationship. The key to building the best relationship is to have the right number of contacts of the right type at the right time for specific customers.

Markets are always changing, so your communications needs to be flexible and capable of individualised, personalised, responses.

Don’t forget that relationships are two-way conversations. It involves as much listening as talking, emailing, mobile messaging, telesales, advertising etc. Watch bulletin boards, chat rooms, news groups as well the incoming flow of communications. This requires resources to listen, observe, take notes, prioritize, respond, take action and make changes as a result of this dynamic dialogue.

Give the customer a chance to talk to you, taking the time to listen and tell the other party how what they have told you has been acted upon, or at least heard!

Tell customers what they have told you, maybe in the form of order acknowledgement or consolidated feedback from surveys etc. Then show them how this has changed what you do/how you do. It is an important part of building a relationship. All part of the ongoing dialogue. This is will help on how to build relationships with customers.

‘Markets are conversations!’

As the customer base grows, the variety of customer needs may also grow. This requires an excellent memory of not just names but specific needs of different customers.

This is where the database plays an important role in extending the marketer’s memory. Database driven marketing allows the dialogue to become a dynamic dialogue – responsive, relevant and fast moving.

How To Build Relationships With Customers: Summary

To summarise:

  • relationship marketing requires:
    • a longer-term perspective
    • a lifetime value perspective
  • Built on:
    • Permission
    • Trust
    • Listening
    • responding to build longer, lasting success.