Building Relationships with Holiday Buyers

“My one best tip for “Creating Customer Loyalty In Business” is build a genuine relationship with them that will make it difficult for them to desire to go anywhere else for business. By showing the customer that they come first, are sincerely valued and that they are being given loyalty, it should warrant a mutual response. In my humble opinion, in a world where business is not always based on genuinely caring and integrity, I believe that these qualities will separate one from all of the rest”. – Kevin Benton

If businesses were to follow the advice as given in the quote, they would know that building relationships with customers, especially the ones they do not see so often such as holiday buyers, would give them an edge and “separate them from all the rest.” Unfortunately, it would seem that holiday buyers are viewed merely as transactions and sales figures, which translates to little or no effort on the part of the businesses towards building relationships with holiday buyers to retain them beyond the holidays. This is most certainly a huge opportunity, which companies throw away by not realizing that most holiday buyers need help to decide and are therefore more open to suggestions and new offerings. Smart companies would instead work towards building relationships with holiday buyers by engaging with them directly and making every effort to gain their loyalty.

Traditionally, it would seem, that during the holiday season companies remain focused on pushing sales to the optimum (required) but forget about encouraging and enticing customers for a future business relationship. A report showed that up to 40% of annual sales happen during the holiday season and therefore this is the most opportune time to gain new customers and keep them for a long time. Building relationships with holiday buyers must be woven into the long-term strategy of the company such that the buying frenzy of the holidays translates to their loyalty. In addition to targeting the buyers, companies can engage another set of customers – the ones that receive the products as gifts. It is possible to gain new customers from this segment too and by focusing on building relationships, a company could ‘convert’ them to long-term customers.

It would be easier to connect with the actual buyers but how would you know who received the products bought? That is where the time of ‘returns’ helps – research shows that at up to 15% of gifts received during holidays are either returned or exchanged. This period too is rushed given that there are many people on the ‘same mission’ and the company’s employees are already weary from the holiday rush and returning gifts online is not always the easiest. By offering free shipping on returns and making it simpler to return and exchange by putting other processes in place, a company would create a great opportunity for building relationships with this customer base. The basic premise of customer service is about things simpler for existing and potential customers and easy returns is a great way to show potential customers that doing business with your company makes a lot of sense.

As mentioned earlier, many holiday buyers shop at the very last minute and therefore do not often have a clear idea of exactly what they would like to buy. Building relationships with such buyers becomes easier if your company invests time in making valuable suggestions and offering products that would fit their requirements – budget included. Their state of mind is one of confusion and if your company can alleviate their stress you could well be on the way to gaining and retaining customers for a long time. Building relationships with holiday buyers must begin well before they actually step in-store – ‘educate’ these buyers through promotions and enticing advertisements in order to let them know what is available and how the products could satisfy their needs. For first time customers, such information and ‘education’ proves invaluable and they would remember this way beyond just the holiday season. Helping these first time customers is one of the best ways to engage them and build a relationship with them that would be long lasting.

The holiday season must be the time that a company’s customer service functions at the optimum. As mentioned, most holiday buyers are first time customers, harried and rushing to complete last minute obligations. By offering top class support via every channel available, a company would be in a better position to make a lasting impression and for building relationships with these holiday buyers. Research shows that at least 57% customers expect the same response times at any time of the day or night, week and weekends. This figure would be the same or higher during festive season. The customer support information must be visible and easy to access and ensure that your customer service teams are geared up to manage these first time customers and their innumerable queries. Companies must remember to pay extra attention to the well-being and workloads of their service staff in order that they remain energized and happy to serve customers in a highly pressured time. The investment of time and effort a company makes during this time could be its best bet for building relationships with first time holiday buyers such that they return to do more business after the holiday season is long over.

In the endeavour towards building relationships not just with the buyers but also the to-be recipients of the products, gear up to offer shipping of the gifts to the person for whom they are intended. Wrapping and delivering gifts during the rushed holiday season is a herculean task, which most people would be happy not to do. If your company offers to ship it directly to the recipient, it stands to gain valuable information of both the buyer and the recipient and leverage this information to gain new customers by displaying its ability for outstanding customer service.

Building relationships with holiday buyers and others would prove to be a highly lucrative and beneficial move once the holiday buying comes to an end. The display of exceptional service complementing good quality products, will give these first time buyers strong reasons to come back to doing business with your company and also recommend your company to others. To further the cause of building relationships, a company could also invest in creating personalized interactive videos and emails to cement the connection, so vital in creating loyalty and long-term profitability.

If possible, it would be a great gesture to send personalized thank you notes / cards to customers that bought in bulk or had big orders (if possible for all customers). This simple gesture has the ability to make a lasting impression and they would think of your company when making their next purchase. It is also great for building relationships and ‘converting’ holiday buyers into regular and long standing customers. Another great way to take the ‘holiday buying’ forward is to use the customer data for segmentation to put in place personalized offers and messages. Customers are always inundated with emails and promotional materials that most often are not even remotely connected with their needs. Through personalization, you can set your company and its offerings apart, surely building relationships with a new customer base.

Building relationships with holiday buyers is no longer a strategy that can be ignored or undermined. When a company helps them through the high stress by offering top class service and quality products, it gives them reason to come back for business and possibly become one of the most loyal customers a company could have.

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