Products and services are mostly the same. Their characteristics and attributes are parity. Your benefits are the same. Therefore, your company, brand, product or service’s relationship with its customers is often its only competitive advantage.
Companies with strong customer relationships tend to be leaders. This is well documented in many good books and articles, so we won’t defend the POV here. But if that’s true, and if customer relationship marketing is an ideal strategy to be competitive, then the question becomes, “How do I do it?”
We’re not suggesting that your company befriend its customers. That’s not realistic. But if your customers feel some affinity with your company, they will choose you over the competition, all else being equal. You do this because over time you have delivered more value and that value has created relationship equity.
Value can be practical, it can be emotional, and it can be both. But when delivered consistently, relationship equity is created and becomes competitive isolation. An effective customer relationship marketing strategy can mean the difference between a company that moves with the market and one that outperforms the market.
The following relationship marketing principles are based on experience from relationship marketing programs in Europe and the USA. Keep them in mind as you design your relationship marketing strategy.
1) Attract the right customers for the right reasons
dr Stephen Epley, the founder of Epley Market Research and Consulting, says that 90% of loyalty issues stem from the sales process. Make sure your strategy and tactics are focused on attracting heavy users for the right reasons. Sell your value. Don’t coerce them with a bribe.
2) The most important time is the beginning
Buying your product or service does not mean they have a relationship with you. Are you open to this? Maybe. Do you have to earn it? Absolutely. Their interest in your product is high and they are happy to listen, but don’t be fooled, their interest in the category is high as well. They listen to what the competition says. acknowledge them. Let them know through words and actions that you value their business. Surprise them with values that go beyond the functional benefits of your product.
3) In established relationships, purchasing decisions are continuously reinforced
Once you connect, don’t give up on your efforts. The most important purchase is not the first, but the second. Emphasize how smart they are to buy your product. Give them every reason to buy from you again. But keep the plaid jacket at home. Talk to them like you’re in a relationship, not like a salesman trying to make their numbers.
4) Good customers expect a reward
This is not to say that every customer gets a prize. Understand who your best customers are, the 20% of your customers who generate 80% of your sales, and reward them. surprise her Please her. Make them customers for life. Make them so happy that they will tell friends and acquaintances what a pleasure doing business with you. The ROI of these relatively small investments is huge, especially when compared to the cost of acquiring new customers.
5) The second most important time is when the relationship is at risk
Again, this doesn’t apply to every customer, but for your best customers, take the time to really understand what went wrong and then do something concrete to address their concerns. Don’t take the relationship for granted. Whatever went wrong consumed some relationship justice. You have to earn it back.