Stay Connected with Customers

“Find a way to be personal with your customers and connect with them on a human level.” – Andrew Reid

Why is staying connected with customers (or anyone for that matter) so vital? We cannot repeat this often enough – customer needs and expectations change fast and unexpectedly, and without staying connected, it would be impossible for any company to understand their customers. By losing touch, how would a company be able to produce offerings, create brands and advertisements, messages, brand identity and other such important features, that would instantly hit home with customers? Staying connected with customers builds, nurtures, and sustains the relationship and allows a company to treat customers in the way they should be and expect to be treated. The reality is that if one company fails to take care of its customers, there are a number of companies happy to ‘swoop’ down and ‘steal’ the customers. Retaining customers may not be easy but when compared to the task of attracting new ones, it seems a lot simpler.

Irrespective of the size of a company and the products it offers, the level of service a company provides and the efforts it puts into staying connected with customers, makes all the difference. Keeping customers happy should be the driving force and the unique feature – customers must be placed at the centre of everything a company does. Everyone in the company must understand and be encouraged to serve the customer well, irrespective of the department they work in or their role in the company. Staying connected with customers – especially if a company has a large number, would not be possible without the support and efforts of everyone within an organization.

Customer acquisition is a major concern for every business owner – that is the foremost method of increasing business. However, in doing so, it is critical to remember that staying connected with customers who are already buying from the company is equally (if not more) important. Customer churn is the leading cause of any company’s decline and this factor makes customer retention and ‘attention’ strategies even more critical. An increase of customer retention by even 5% can lead to anywhere between 25% to 95% increase in a company’s profits – customers stay when a company makes the effort to stay connected with them. No company therefore, can afford to ignore the business value of staying connected with customers – not just for retention but also for the fact that loyal customers prove to be very effective brand ambassadors.

Staying connected with customers and ensuring regular interactions lets them know that the business considers them important and values their association. In addition, by staying connected, companies gain trust and find it easier to get insights and feedback from customers, thereby enabling improvements in service, offerings, and other aspects of business. With the advancements in technology, staying connected with customers is a lot easier – the various smart devices and apps, mobile friendly websites and social sites and other such online connections, prove to be highly effective marketing tools. They are efficient, fast, versatile, and affordable, allowing businesses to be consistently where the customer is. With the rise of e-commerce, staying connected with customers through such methods is an absolute necessity for success.

Companies know that customers would rarely take time out to create interactions and hence they must proactively find ways to do so, without impinging on the customer’s time. However, by making efforts to stay connected with customers, companies are able to enhance the feelings trust and confidence for themselves. Customers become more amenable to share feedback and provide honest opinions on various aspects of the business, sometimes even without being asked. As customer involvement grows, they learn to care about the company and are more likely to contribute to ensure its success along with their own. Simply staying connected with customers provides a company with so many advantages, including the formidable power of customer loyalty and brand advocacy.

The other highly effective and seemingly preferred method of staying connected with customers is through social media. With just a single comment, update, or post a company can reach its existing customers and a large number of potential ones too. Companies can publish value-added content and information that would be useful for a large number of readers and over time become known for its knowledge and expertise on particular subjects. This helps the company to not only remain connected, but also provide opportunities for its customers and others to express their views and interact with each other. Social media being a highly visible platform can help a company to improve its brand image significantly, if managed well. The downside is that even on irate customer can wreak havoc on the company if the company fails to reign in the problem at the earliest stages. While staying connected with customers is important, a company must know how to prioritize the connections, dealing first with the ones that could potentially cause problems.

Irrespective of how well a company may have or may continue to stay connected with its customers, taking the relationships for granted or becoming complacent can be detrimental. As mentioned earlier, customers will continue to change and will not be forthcoming in letting a company know of those changes, unless they first see the effort to ‘know’ coming from the company. Staying connected with customers shows them that the company has nothing to hide and is completely honest in its dealings. In any case, almost every company and customer would have an on-line presence and this has made transparency and openness the new ‘mantras’ for conducting business. However, by consistently interacting with customers, a company can alleviate any doubts or apprehensions a customer may have about its culture and values.

The leadership of companies must pave the way for open and consistent communication with customers. They must make the effort to be visible on social media – sending out information, commenting, writing blogs on the company’s website, or even sending out a companywide communication for the employees. Such open and transparent behaviour will encourage customers and others to trust the company, and would make them interested to know more about it. By generating interest in itself, a company increases its chances of attracting more customers, investors, stakeholders, and even the best talent in the market.

Making a habit of staying connected with customers would encourage them to ‘talk back’. An increase in positive interactions between existing customers and a company, not only enhances the reputation of the company, but also makes its employees feel proud to be part of it. We all know the power of happy and energized employees! Staying connected with customers is about focusing on what the customer wants and the better a company can do this, the more advantages it would see for itself over time.

Show customers what you can do for them with every connection you make – these can be both tangible and intangible things. Whatever it is, customers would be grateful to you for making their lives a bit easier. By initially giving to the customer, a company would gain ‘friends’ and willing brand ambassadors in them – these are highly potent assets to have in the current competitive business scenario. What strategies does you company employ to stay connected with customers? Are they working?

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