Building Customer Relationships

“The purpose of a business is to create a customer who creates customers.”- Shiv Singh

A large part of customer service is also delivered at the stage of selling. Such customer service representatives should focus not just on providing the relevant information regarding the product or service but also aim at building customer relationships that will last. This will help in letting the customer know that they can count on you if and when they require it during their journey with your company. For the representative such rapport building will help gain information regarding the customer beyond just the interaction.

Any information the customer seeks during these first few interactions and later on too must be given without hesitation. There must be no attempt to withhold or hide any information. All requests made by a customer must be treated with respect and even some additional information should be provided to ensure complete transparency. It is not unusual for customers to ask certain questions very early in the interaction and customer service agents must be prepared with answers to all kinds of such queries. The process of making a sale is crucial. Customer service representatives must remember to keep a proper balance. Been persuasive should not mean that the customer feels coerced in to buying or gets so put off and remembers the interaction as rude and controlling. The company representative must ensure that the interaction is at the pace convenient to the customer and all the queries satisfactorily answered. Focus at all times must remain on building customer relationships so that the customer ends up with a feeling of trust, confidence and is genuinely pleased at making the purchase.

A systematic approach is required to building customer relationships. The customer service representative must ask suitable and precise open ended questions to ensure the customer is able to provide clear, unambiguous and pertinent answers. This would help the representative to get a precise understanding of what the customer needs, expects and wants. Only on the basis of this information can negotiations go forward and the correct product at competitive price be offered. The deal must be beneficial to both the customer and the company. Customers are most definitely interested in knowing if they are receiving the best price and the representative must be able to remove all doubt through complete and effective responses to the queries. In addition thorough and clear cut information instills trust in the company and also lets the customer get a feel of the kind of customer service the company is capable of giving. A well-informed, courteous, passionate and thorough customer service representative is the face of a ‘great’ company that offers nothing short of customer service excellence.

A customer may not remember certain points regarding the product or related to the time of buying. It is the job of the customer service representative to not only let them know the value-add that the product brings to their business but also provide additional details of the kind of after sales service, customer service policies, attention to quality and detail, refund and return processes and information that lets the customer know that your company is the preferred supplier of the product. The aim is building customer relationships by showing and creating added value for the customer.

The product or service being offered by the company must serve to alleviate certain challenges the customer is facing currently by either not using the product or using a product of inferior quality. The customer service representative must be able to position the offering in a way that it serves as a bridge between what the customer currently experiences and what they would like to experiences. This bridging is what will create the lasting impression of a value added product and will also provide a clear picture to the customer of the kind of company they are dealing with and customer service they are receiving and will receive.

Building customer relationships and strengthening them begins at this initial stage and a customer service agent who can successfully build a relationship is making more than a sale. They are making customers for life and increasing the chances of success for themselves and the company they represent. The most critical factor in building customer relationships is personalization and making the customer feel special and important. In normal circumstances too people like to feel special and this customer relationship is no different. In fact, customers expect it since they are investing valuable resources in to the company and need more than just a product.

– Customer service representatives must ensure that the aspect of a mutual interest is highlighted during the interaction. It is always more comfortable and easier to have interactions with people one likes and those who are similar to us. Similar and mutual interests can get the customer’s attention and keep them engaged enough to listen and also conduct business

– Keeping the conversation centered on what the customer thinks and says. The customer must remain in the driver’s seat that will give them a sense of importance and show them that the company values their opinions. The customer service representative must conduct the conversation in a way that elicits responses, opinions and feedback from the customer giving them the impression of being listened to.

– The company policy must include giving the customer a gift that must have value for the customer. It does not necessarily have to be something of high monetary value but must be of value to show the customer that they are recognized and appreciated

– Thank the customer for the opportunity to share with them. Show them earnestly that the company cares about them and that the interaction has been valuable to the company as well. Let them know in a sincere manner that their business is important and that the company is committed to serving them with high standards of service.
Building customer relationships is vital but the methods a customer service representative uses to do so may vary depending on the company. Even a couple of well-thought out and properly executed relationship building techniques can produce the desired results which many sloppy and ill-planned techniques may not be able to achieve. The level of service and techniques of building customer relationships must remain standard and uniform irrespective of whether the customer is being met for the first time or has been with the company for long. Building relationships already precludes the need to sustain them through effective and balanced techniques. Companies and its representatives would know that they have built bridges and succeeded in building customer relationships when the customers begin to speak well of the company and become irreplaceable advocates.

Building customer relationships is not a time bound process. Many positive interactions over an extended period begin to create such relationships. Patience and fortitude is required as some customers may be more difficult to communicate with than others. Customer service representatives that remain focused on the best interest of the customer will most certainly be able to start the long the arduous process of building customer relationships and gaining the valuable asset of customer trust.

As pointed out earlier, it is not sufficient just to build the relationships. Maintaining them at the same level through the business life of the customer with the company is as important. We know that customer engagement does not come easy. Building customer relationships and maintaining them is a vital part of the customer service representative’s job. It is easy for time and interactions to erode these relationships and can reduce the customer’s interest in the company and its offering. Maintaining sufficient contact with customers helps companies to understand the customer’s changing needs and situations and thus able to adapt their customer service policies and products in a way that customers can continue to relate to them.

The main aim of building customer relationships is to make the customer feel important and let them continue to feel so through the entire life of the relationship. Customers that feel special are more likely to trust and become loyal adding huge amounts of revenue and repute to a company.

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