Companies are no longer faceless, inhuman entities. On the contrary, no matter how big they are, customers expect a personal connection. Connection builds the loyalty that keeps customers coming back for more.
The size of a company, its products and services, even its business model will dictate how to foster customer connections. But somehow, at some level, every business needs to reach out and touch their customers. If they fail to connect, they will simply fail.
Connecting with your customers doesn’t have to be expensive, time-consuming, or complicated. Here are seven simple ways you may be able to connect with yours.
1. Run a Responsive Call Center
A responsive call center is one of the best ways to connect with customers. This is especially true for companies that sell products online. If someone orders your widget and it arrives broken, they need to be able to call someone for a fix.
If your customer calls are going to voicemail instead of a live human, you’re probably losing sales. Not only that, but calls should be routed automatically to the right human to handle them. There are call center solutions like software provider Five9 that can help you accomplish this. How that person responds to a customer inquiry will determine how the customer feels about your company and whether they return.
A customer’s loyalty and trust can be won or lost when they pick up the phone to call you. Having a responsive call center on the other end can be your company’s ace in the hole.
2. Take a Personal Approach
Customers expect businesses to be personal. If you’re all business, you may lose theirs. So instead of being strictly transactional, figure out ways you can get close to your customers.
Thank them personally. Engage with them one-on-one. Ask for their opinion about your products, services, and the way you do business. You probably have their email address, so use it for something other than sending a copy of the invoice.
Rather than pushing a product toward them, pull your customers in. You can do that by asking how your company can help them solve a problem and make their lives better. If you reach out to them, they will reach back, potentially time and time again.
3. Connect Through Social Media
Depending on who your customers are, they may spend hours on social media platforms. Failure to connect with them there is simply a missed opportunity. If you aren’t engaging on social media, your competitors will be stealing the show.
Engage your customers on social media by inviting reviews. Thank them for their business. And if they ask you questions or voice concerns via social channels, respond promptly.
Use social media to let customers into your business by uploading behind-the-scenes videos that show them something new. Above all, invite a conversation rather than spewing a sales pitch. Connecting on social media is a two-way street.
4. Build a Community
Instead of focusing on building a business empire, build a customer community. Technology, social media, and a global pandemic have increased feelings of isolation. That’s why there has never been a more important time to cultivate the human connection.
Connectivity and dialogue are inherent in community. You can’t just gather people in the same room or on the same app without giving them a shared purpose for being there. Show them that when they purchased your product, they became a part of something larger. Encouraging them to offer tips, share personal stories, and post videos will help forge community connections.
Community members are eager to share insights and opinions with members of other communities they belong to. They will spread the gospel of your company far beyond the boundaries of what you can do alone. Keep your community happy and watch its population grow.
5. Be Experiential
Experiences become a part of someone’s history. Customers will forget the product ad that pops up on their web browser. But they won’t forget how using that product made them feel or how it solved their problem.
Seek out ways you can engage customers in a real experience using free trials, coupons, or rewards programs. Ask them to rate that experience and how you can make it better for them. Nurture connections between them and others who have shared similar experiences.
Experiences can be unforgettable connections to a brand. If customers can’t forget you for all the right reasons, they will be loyal. They’ll have no excuse to not make a return visit.
6. Create a Company Culture of Connectivity
Customer connections begin with your employees. If the people who work for you don’t feel connected to your brand, no one will. That’s why it’s important to build a culture that values connection from the inside out.
Begin by reminding employees that their livelihoods depend on customers. Customers put food on their tables, buy gas at the pump, and pay for their kids’ karate lessons. It’s tough to not feel a connection with people doing those kinds of things for you.
Customers and employees share a common connection with your brand. If you’ve created the right company culture, that will be obvious to customers. Every time your employees answer a call or respond to an email, customers should feel a spark.
7. Be True to Yourself
Customers crave honesty and authenticity in personal relationships, in the workplace, and when deciding what brand of socks to buy. Lie to them once, and they won’t be back.
Be prepared to deliver products and services that delight the customer and to make things right if they don’t. Stay true to your company’s founding purpose story and committed to the values you purport to have. When customers buy a brand these days, they’re buying the whole enchilada, not just the tortilla.
Maintaining connections with customers provides an opportunity to retell your origin story and remind them why they can trust your brand. When you make changes, design new products, or respond to a cause important to your customers, let them know why. So long as you’re honest with your customers, they’ll have a reason to stay on the line.
The best way to connect with your customers will differ from the way other companies connect with theirs. Connecting with B2B customers buying industrial cleaning products will require certain tactics — perhaps chatbots and intelligent virtual assists among them. In contrast, connecting with B2C customers of your dog-walking service will more likely involve phone calls and Instagram posts.
Nonetheless, the basic principle of customer connection, no matter who your customers are, remains the same. Companies must invest the time and resources necessary to build two-way connections in every corner of the business. If all customers get is static, you can count on them to hang up.