Bond with Customers

“If you don’t genuinely like your customers, chances are they won’t buy”. – Thomas Watson

To get customers to like you, for your own sake, it is crucial that your company and its representatives understand the true meaning of customer driven quality and service. This is the ideal way to bond with customers which in turn will keep them with you longer and make them more profitable. Given the surge in competition and hence a drop in market share, it is becoming imperative for companies to think about customer service as an investment and to use every opportunity to bond with customers. We know that customer loyalty is not immediate or overnight – it takes time and develops when companies build personal relationships with customers. With personal relationships come trust and confidence as customers will be confident that your company will be there to meet their changing needs and desires. All this put together serves to create a bond with customers which will keep companies safe from the ‘ravages’ of the fierce market environment.

Building a bond with customers has now emerged as one of the critical drivers of policy for companies that have understood the power it can wield. The earlier approaches of company focus and product centricity while still vital are incapable of keeping customers and forming relationships. These approaches can be replicated and bettered by any competitor and you will find your customers switching loyalties. To build a bond with customers, companies must invest in personalizing their service and offerings and also ensure that they add an element of uniqueness – something which only they offer. When customers can get what they want and more from your company, it is highly unlikely that they would switch leading to a larger loyal customer that would drive higher profits.

As discussed, establishing a bond with customers is a gradual and sometime laborious process. It takes time and concerted effort to build – effective communication that is personalized, a mutually beneficial association and the perception in the customer’s mind that the company is genuinely interested in the customer’s welfare and success. Companies must decide which approach works best for them and how they can gain customer loyalty and make them enthusiastic brand advocates.

– To build a bond with customers, it is most important to first get them to personally identify with the company’s brand and offerings. Creating suitable cognizance is the first and perhaps the most tedious step. Being the first stage, it is beginning of forming a relationship and as such would depend on how well your company is able to market and promote its offerings. This is the step where the company must create a lasting impression and be able to capture the attention and emotions of the customer without really having a good grasp on the customer’s mind-set and their actual needs and expectations. Creating this awareness is a crucial step since one wrong move could have the prospective customer write your company off for good.

– Post the stage of cognizance, the customer would question your offering in a bid to understand how it can benefit them. The usual question that most people have “what’s in it for me” and when customers do ask this question ensure that the answer they get helps them identify with your offerings and company’s values. It is the start of a relationship, but is currently based on what the customer perceives as value. It may be the start to build a bond with customers but is still in a shaky stage as customers could easily go in another direction if someone else offers them more ‘value’. Keep the customer enticed and excited by offering information that they didn’t already have and give them reasons to appreciate your company’s uniqueness and to satisfactorily answer the question “what’s in it for me”

– Once the customer comes round to believing that the offering will benefit them by being customized to their particular need, they would need to be constantly reassured of this through each interaction. Stellar customer service would play a vital role in taking the customer to a level of satisfaction. Being an on-going process, customer satisfaction will be something that your company must constantly achieve and would happen by responding swiftly to their queries, immediately resolving their problems and remaining empathetic and courteous at all times. It is a tough proposition to retain customers but it is much harder and at least 5 times costlier to attract new ones, who are less profitable than loyal customers. Companies must use this stage to learn, recognize and acknowledge the particular customer’s interests and needs. Customers are able to perceive the company’s commitment and are more willing to be part of a relationship and maintain it for mutual benefit. As the positive interactions increase, they develop a level of trust and loyalty and it becomes easier for the company to build a bond with customers.

– This bond however is not a fluke or a one-time exercise. It requires concerted and focused positive interactions that will allow customers to let the company’s offerings permeate their lives and lifestyles. As time progresses customers are able to increasingly appreciate the shared values and benefit of this association and become steadily resilient to the enticement from the company’s competitors. As customers bestow allegiance, they also spread a good word to others via social media and other channels, attracting more business for the company. Companies too use this as an opportunity to introduce incentives that reward customers who are able to introduce new customers and their business to the company. It must be remembered however, that the new customers must feel as special as the current ones for the relationship to be strong from the start.

Great customer service and being able to build a bond with customers is not an easy task but is not impossible either. Having assertive products and service with highly competitive pricing is what will attract customers at the outset but is not what will sustain the interest. ‘Lock’ your customers in by delighting them at every touch point and giving them more than they expected or received from elsewhere. Do what no one else is doing or has done before. These attributes will overcome any barriers or mind-blocks the customer may have and will make them loyal and profitable customers who will be willing to partner with your company to achieve success and profits for both sides.

When you ‘lock’ and build a bond with customers, what your company is also doing is locking the competition out. Your customers love you and your offerings so much that the bond becomes impenetrable. Again, this is an enduring, relentless and open-ended process that your company must remember to never let go of.

Make your brand of service exclusive and one that can only be identified with your company. This establishes your company’s brand supremacy and also that of the customer service that customers would receive. Constantly reinforce this to your customers and ensure that these efforts are displayed on your website and social media sites. Customer loyalty and a building a bond with customers is a plan – a well-thought out and structured decision that will sustain your company and take it to greater heights of profits and success. Invest in it.

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