A three-step guide to building customer relationships

Neha Kale

If you’re a small business owner, your ability to cultivate strong customer relationships is essential to your bottom line. According to customer service expert Martin Grunstein, the fact that small businesses are often limited by their marketing budget means that turning customers into brand advocates is more important than ever.

“The success of small business is not how many people it attracts through promotion and advertising, it is how many of those first time customers can they turn into regulars,” he tells ShortPress. Here are Grunstein’s top tips for building relationships that last.

Make loyalty your religion

Although the prospect of an extensive client base is appealing, it’s wiser to concentrate your efforts on attracting customers that keep on coming back. If you focus on value rather than volume, you’re likelier to retain customers that promote your products and services – a quality that can work magic for your brand.

Grunstein says that listening closely to your customers and creating incentives for loyalty can help drive revenue and sales. “Word-of-mouth referrals have no marketing costs. This is how these businesses can become profitable and successful,” he says.

Use technology to build customer intimacy

A decade ago, small business owners had to rely on manual databases to understand consumers’ preferences and needs. But these days, social media, email and analytics platforms can help you tailor customer relationships based on personalisation and relevance.

“Social media is an expensive way to get information into the marketplace. Email allows you to communicate free with prospects and a past history of purchases can help understand what might interest the customer in the future, setting the stage for cost-effective campaigns,” Grunstein says. “But remember that the quality of the message is important.”

Create a compelling customer experience

However, the relevance of your marketing efforts is insignificant if you don’t go above and beyond. For Grunstein, exceeding customer expectations – whether this means offering fast shipping on an online order or adding a personal flourish to your services – is key to building high-value customer relationships.

“I go to a cafe where they remember my name, know my regular order and ask me about my family, and as long as the coffee is good, I’ll go back when their prices go up,” he says. “If I stop, it’s because I’ve been neglected. This is what small businesses need to understand.”

From investing in repeat business to creating a memorable experience, it’s simple to build relationships that take your business from strength to strength.

Neha Kale

Neha Kale is a freelance writer and editor who covers business, technology, arts and culture for publications in Australia and overseas.