When it comes to business success, the key is winning and keeping customers. And the key to winning and keeping customers is—and has always been—relationships.
I’m not talking about the connections formed through sharing a photo with hundreds of friends on social media or sending an email to a mass database of contacts, though these are important, too. I’m talking about the relationships rooted in trust, confidence, respect and genuine like for one another. Relationships that result from personal calls to check in, brainstorm an idea or resolve an issue; lunches where you listen to and understand one another; or gifts that tell customers you know and appreciate them. Real relationships between real people in the real world—these lead to business success.
According to an article in Entrepreneur magazine, small business owners might have an advantage when it comes to relationships: “The size of your company allows you to reach people at a more personal level than big businesses, which turns into stronger relationships with customers.” The article also provides these five ways to build relationships to keep customers coming back:
1) Communicate: Rather than just telling customers about your business, have conversations with them. Find out what they need, then show them you have a solution to their problem.
2) Exceed expectations: Under promise, and over deliver—for example, deliver a product or service earlier than expected. When you impress customers, they keep coming back.
3) Ask for feedback: Customer feedback helps you hone in on customers’ specific needs so you can find the best solutions to their problems. The better your offering meets their needs, the more your business will grow.
4) Connect: Build customer relationships through your online presence, too. When you engage online, just be careful not to create a one-way conversation. Ask questions and respond to inquiries.
5) Show appreciation: Reward long-time customers with thoughtful gifts or even a loyalty discount. Give away branded items that are fun and useful and keep your business top-of-mind.
Also, remember your customer relationships aren’t the only ones that matter. Connect personally and often with your other stakeholders—the community, employees, vendor partners and peers in your personal network—to ensure your associations are solid and growing on all fronts.
You guessed it: The theme of this issue of NAWBO ONE is “relationships.” In it, you’ll read about two branding professionals and their business that revolves around relationships, whether they are working on a web design or a media strategy. Our “Books We Love” and “Business & Lifestyle Tips” columns provide additional insights that will strengthen your existing relationships and help you build new ones.
Enjoy the issue, and know that when I think of some of my most powerful relationships, you—my NAWBO sisters—are among the first to come to mind! I hope you’ll join me in Washington, D.C. this summer for the Academy for Public Service and Advocacy Day and this fall in Jacksonville, Florida, for the National Women’s Business Conference, so we can reconnect, have fun, impact and grow together!