Marketing is a term so vast that its uses come in various forms and definitions. This includes everything from the digital billboards in Times Square to creating a website to promote your products or services, to the trailers played before a cinema movie. But more surprisingly, the most efficient marketing technique might actually be the way you communicate and build relationships with your customers.
Francis Buttle, author of Relationship Marketing: Theory and Practice, claims:
“Marketing is no longer simply about developing, selling, and delivering products. It is progressively more concerned with the development and maintenance of mutually satisfying long-term relationships with customers.”
Picture the dedicated Apple fanatics who line up in the freezing cold just to get their hands on the brand new iPhone. I’ve walked by these die-hard fans on several occasions and still ask myself “why?” This extreme loyalty does not happen overnight. It takes time, numerous meetings and brainstorming sessions to successfully understand your customers’ desires and needs.
On top of this, this approach is not as obvious and replicable as advertising your videos on Facebook or buying clicks on Google. Yet, the secret we’re about to reveal will help you build your brand’s awareness and make it the only option for your customers.
Without further ado, here is everything you need to know about customer relationship marketing (CRM) and crucial tips to start implementing it for your business:
What is customer relationship marketing?
Commonly known in the marketing world as CRM (not to be confused with customer relationship management), customer relationship marketing is about forming long-term client bonds and customer loyalty, instead of focusing only on immediate sells. Compared to traditional marketing (i.e. flyers, radio, and newspaper print ads), it’s less transactional or hard-selling, and more about the emotional connection that you build.
Customer relationship marketing requires you to be at ease with varied tools, such as collecting feedback to understand your customers better, reading data to improve your processes, or social media to communicate with and empower your followers.
In the long term, those who apply customer relationship marketing are able to create a community of ambassadors and generate lead-worthy clients through word-of-mouth.
Consistent customer service experience
You cannot build a long-term relationship with your customers if you do not have the right communication tools. It’s a good idea to open every possible channel (i.e. phone, email, social media) that you have the resources to ensure your clients know you’re available to help.
At some point, you’ll be facing the opposite issue. An increase of customers usually means more incoming questions asked via your contact options. Even the frustrated clients will start sending you emails in all caps, to the point where your inbox is completely spammed. With more messages, declining first contact resolution (FCR) and long wait times, this is a situation you should absolutely avoid. As a matter of fact, 67% of clients reporting a bad customer experience as the reason for switching businesses.
This is why a help desk software will help you organize and house every client interaction in one place, while providing other powerful tools to keep you afloat. These include creating a contact form for customer inquiries to building a help center to offering live chat software - making communication easy for your agents, customers and business.
Grow their skills and knowledge
People appreciate your product more when they learn new and fresh ways to use it, especially if you make changes or release innovative features. The simple action of educating your clients can show your customers they matter to you - and, make you look good too.
Here are a few ways to build customers knowledge:
Build a community: Start by building an online or offline community. Make the focus all about open, two-way discussion with your clients. Some well-known platforms include Facebook or LinkedIn groups. If you have extra resources lying around, open a learning center. For example, we host local businesses at the Wix Hub, including seminars, lectures, workshops and more for all of our users.
Extra value: Creating a blog for your business can bring potential and existing customers to your site out of just pure curiosity. If I search for “bad customer experience,” I’ll land on Wix Answers customer service blog. Not only is it beneficial for SEO, it also covers different issues and topics for your customers without it being “all about you.”
Self-service: Recurring customer issues from your help desk software is a good indicator that you may not have adequate content. One way to fix this is to create a knowledge base where customers can search for answers themselves. They will appreciate your content-creation efforts, and you will feel it in your support traffic.
Gather valuable feedback
For any business, there is always room for improvement. Inviting your long-term customers to provide you with valuable feedback is one way to understand how you’re doing and what needs to be prioritized for the future. But more importantly in a customer relationship marketing approach, asking for feedback demonstrates that you really care about what your clients think of you.
Just make sure to channel your customers’ wants and desires in an organized way, through your help desk software, in order to keep track of all inquiries and answer them systematically. With this data, you’ll be able to make better decisions and improve your products, services, and overall customer support.
Build a brand identity
Successful companies know who they are - from their core values to their vision. If you want to stand out from the pack, you need to make it clear to your customers what you’re all about. If your message and positive aura resonates with your customers, then you’re already one step in the right direction.
For starters, having a clear mission statement that voices your purpose and reason for existence is a must-have in our business-centric world. This is your raison d’être, or the flag you plant at the top of Mount Everest. You get the point. To show you what we mean, here is an example of a mission statement from a team-based work application, Asana:
Asana’s mission is to help humanity thrive by enabling all teams to work together effortlessly.
But you shouldn’t stop here. This identity evolves a lot more elements. Check this guide to find out how to build a clear, relatable and memorable brand identity for your business.
Become a storyteller
Remember the days you were told bedtime stories as a child? Well, businesses today also use storytelling as a way to build strong relationships with customers (hopefully without them falling asleep mid-way through). In a world of click-bait advertisements and sketchy looking pop-ups, telling a story is the most effective way to draw genuine attention. Businesses use this tool to depict complex, yet relevant messages to their clients through empathy and emotion.
Storytelling can be applied in many different ways and formats, such as video advertisements, blog posts and powerful imagery. The common, general idea is to break down the barriers between the customer and business, and let the client see a different and unexpected side of the brand.
Best-selling beer producer Budweiser released a video ad “Friends are Waiting” to portray a “don’t drink and drive” message through the eyes of a dog. Instead of using scare tactics and strong messaging, they told a story about making the right-decision when downing a few brewskis.
Spread the word through advocates and ambassadors
These are two types of cheerleaders. Advocates, on the one hand, will most likely root for you free of charge. Ambassadors, on the other hand, might expect to receive a small incentive to do the same (i.e., promotions, product samples, or gift cards). Although slightly different, both are worth having on your team to grow your existing community of followers.
But what’s most important is to maintain a constant two-way flow of communication. This is where you’ll feed them with exclusive insights - for example, through a newsletter or within the product itself.
Brand ambassadors are the crème de la crème of word-of-mouth. It’s like George Clooney for Nespresso, or Gigi Hadid for Tommy Hilfiger. So, if you want to take it to the next level by establishing a brand ambassador program, such as Sony did for talented photographers.
Giving perks and rewards
As a loyal customer to several small and big companies, I expect brands to reciprocate in exciting and unexpected ways. With my 10-plus membership cards stacked away in wallet, I like knowing I’m earning “points” and rewards for the next time around.
One successful company offering endless perks and rewards is Amazon. To add to that, my mother has a virtual assistant named Alexa, developed and sold by Amazon. One day, Alexa asked my mom to add paper towels to her shopping list. “Isn’t that going to take a week to get here? You’re running out!” I said to her. She laughed. “It takes two days to get here pumpkin. It’s Amazon Prime.” Well, for an annual fee, you receive two-day shipping and earn savings at the same time. In fact, Prime members spend four times more than other Amazon customers. Mind blown.
Remember these strategies the next time you see a long queue outside a successful store, or sold out products at your favorite local retailer. Just like any human bond, customer relationship marketing takes time to tweak and finesse, but the efforts are totally worth it.
Build and maintain strong customer relationships with the best help desk software today!