Successful customer relations – which company doesn’t aim for it? But they don’t happen on their own, they require a lot of detailed work, perseverance and a well planned strategy. In this article, we look at the aspects that companies need to address, in order to foster and sustain successful and long term customer relationships.
To begin with: Do you know the book „Alles außer gewöhnlich„? It was published in 2007 – Anja Förster and Peter Kreuz sharply analyse the German economy. Their conclusion: It’s not enough to simply reel off one’s products and services. It needs to be clever ideas and innovations, that aren’t ordinary. This is still true today and especially important for building successful customer relations. It’s not only about developing new channels, campaigns or occasions, but rather about intelligently managing the different channels and touchpoints that companies can use to engage with their customers. It is crucial that all departments in a company work together and share information transparently – from sales to support to customer service.
Identify your customer touchpoints
Losing and replacing an existing customer can be 5 to 25 times more expensive than keeping existing customers. With this in mind, it is essential to understand the experiences of customers who have left, in order to learn how to prevent similar losses in the future. First: Identify your customer touchpoints. You will find them throughout the customer journey, which usually includes several stages:
- Repeat purchase and recommendation
These customer experiences (CX), form a holistic concept that includes every interaction between customers and the company – from initial brand awareness to the present moment. This is relevant for all services or experiences provided before, during and after the purchase. Customer experience as a concept, has evolved from the increasing commercialisation of services. It’s the next step in the shift from a product industry to a service industry, which has become an industry of ‚experiences‘. The result? Customers have higher expectations of experiences and services. They want every company to deliver quickly and with the same level of personalisation and variety.
Everyone in the company is responsible for successful customer relations
The basis for developing successful customer relations is a well organised CRM system that is anchored within the company. Only the basis! Because the people, the employees of a company who maintain this data and work with it, must be able to operate the CRM system as quickly and intuitively as possible. Only when the CRM system is part of the corporate philosophy and in the hearts of the users, it will be able to be used efficiently for building successful and long-term customer relations.
Customer journey must start with the management team. If the management team is convinced of the positive impact of a CX programme, the transformation can take place throughout the organisation and in all departments. Diverse departments such as IT, marketing, customer service and HR need to work together to develop and implement strategies and drive change throughout the organisation. Some companies have created a team of customer experience experts to help integrate the strategies across each department.
A new trend is to extend the customer experience to the company’s employees to align customer experience and employee experience (EX). Although, these two elements are often considered as two separate entities, the link between customer and employee satisfaction is undeniable! Companies are striving to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, but staff shortages and high turnover rates mean that companies are more interested in employee satisfaction than ever. Basically, the connection between employee satisfaction and economic success is quite clear: Satisfied employees make for satisfied customers.
Use software intelligently and properly
Even the best software can only fully develop its benefits, if it’s used correctly. Any software only serves a tool in the beginning, that must be brought to life by the people who use it. So, it’s not just a matter of rolling out software, but rather of implementing the CRM system, precisely defining the procedures, studying processes, defining and, if necessary, adapting the goals and requirements. Every company, including their culture and strategies, is different, so the software – the CRM system – must also be individually adapted to each company.
The best and easiest way is to select, adapt and expand the relevant functionalities from a CRM system, that has already been used and tested many times. The result is a CRM, that is individually tailored to the company’s requirements. Behind the system, there are years of experience, a high level of consulting services and expertise on industries and markets. Make sure that these gaps in experience are closed and only rely on a service provider who brings all these aspects to the table. So it’s not only the users, but the entire team, especially developers and consultants, who create the basis for successful customer relations with a well organised and intelligent CRM system.
5 tips for successful customer relations
In summary, there are some tips you should follow to maintain and advance your customer relations:
1. Maintain and optimise your data management
A consistent, up-to-date and well-maintained database is a must-have for a targeted customer approach, that is adapted to the respective situation. An intelligent CRM system forms the basis, so that employees can maintain, manage and expand data with pleasure, intuitively and in a guided manner.
2. Set no limits to your customer journey
Think about your own holiday. When does it leave an all-round successful impression? When everything fits, from the arrival to the accommodation to the weather. It’s the same with your customers. If the purchase is satisfactory but not the service, you get negative feedbackback. That’s why you need to make sure that all departments work together, communicate relevant information transparently and are able to guide your customers comprehensively.
3. Leading the way at management level
Successful customer relations must be anchored, lived and thought about in the entire company, especially in the management team. If management doesn’t see customer centricity as a guiding principle, even the most sophisticated CRM system will be of little help. Make sure that the management team rolls out the transformation throughout the organisation and in all departments. Transparent communication is the key!
4. Measure customer experience
It is important to be able to measure customer satisfaction. On the one hand, to assess the success of the measures and improve them if necessary, on the other hand, as an incentive and justification for measures. Intelligent live dashboards and reporting functions that can be shared company-wide, help to evaluate measures and to act proactively. The better you understand your own customers, the more targeted you can work on successful customer relations.
5. Transparency and communication are key
The friendly receptionist, the courteous service employee on the phone, the It-person in the support centre – they can all do a good job. But if just one of them doesn’t take the job seriously or falls out of line, the relationship with the customer will suffer. This can happen, but it should remain the exception. Therefore: A successful customer relationship is the responsibility of each individual in the company and must be guided and lived by the values and ideals of the company.
Customer experience is more than just a trend. Management – and everyone else in the company – must be aware of the impact that positive (or negative) experiences can have on customer relations. The customer experience affects customer satisfaction, loyalty, the likelihood that they will recommend your business to others, and ultimately the likelihood that customers will remain your customers. Indirectly, it also influences your employee experience and leads to higher engagement.
Would you like to learn more about how you can implement successful customer relations with your CRM system? We are happy to invite you to a personal dialogue or to a digital coffee. Schedule your appointment here, we look forward to hearing from you!