How to build great customer relationships

If you pick the top three companies known for their extraordinary customer relationships; Nordstrom, Amazon and Starbucks, it’s pretty easy to dissect their redeeming qualities. Nordstrom is known for their incomparable attention, Starbucks is renowned for its generosity to its employees and the personal touch, and Amazon uses small teams who are empowered to solve problems without having to ask permission of a superior.

Consumers still want to buy from real people and want to buy and associate with people and businesses who carry similar values and good will. Nordstrom, Amazon, and Starbucks didn’t develop their customer relationships over night and have successfully been able to target their main consumers.

If someone asks you who your main customers are, the most logical place to start would be with existing customers. Consider who has bought from you in the past, and look for trends whether it be socio-economic, common interest groups, age, or gender. If you are just starting out and have no customers, check the competition, or launch an online or newspaper advertisement. Consider other tactics and perhaps speak to a sample target audience or do a survey, either online or regular mail.

Building relationships over long periods of time require consistency. Compare it to resolutions people make each January to exercise regularly. It all goes great for the first few weeks in January; the treadmills and step machines are “waiting line only” but as February rolls around, the silence in the gym is deafening again. The same goes for the mailers, e-newletters, blog updates, direct mailers, and personal follow-up phone calls. As the year progresses, and you don’t get any responses, you stop, but the most popular reason to buy a product is need at a particular time. If you are there, the need is there, you will get the customer, but you have to be consistent.

Customers really don’t want to work for what they want. We are a highly mobile society now with a lot of options available to us; not like the old days when businesses shut down at a certain hour. The Internet 24/7 has a compound influence on your target audience, so meeting all the criteria is imperative. Make it easy for the consumer, provide exactly what they need when they need it, go beyond what is expected, make it convenient and at a reasonable price, and your customers will follow.

photo credit: USACE Europe District