Every business worth its salt will know that one of the major cornerstones is its relationships with its customers. A product or service can be top-notch, but without a strong relationship with its customer base a business can never become a major success.
Of course some businesses are better at this than others, but all successful companies understand that their customers are their most important asset and the lifeblood of their existence.
Over the years billions of dollars have been spent by hundreds of thousands of companies trying to cement their relationship with customers. It has become established business practice from international corporate giants to the corner shop owner who makes a point of remembering his regulars’ names.
Over recent years with the advent of the Internet and social media, many businesses have been faced with a whole new question: is it possible to build effective relationships with their customers online?
There have been some who have held that it is only through personal contact that this can be accomplished. However, while it is understandable that some may feel this way, the good news is that not only is it possible it can actually be advantageous for a company to build relationships online.
For any company in this position or for those who are just considering the impact that the internet may already be having on their customer relationships, there are a few key points to consider that will help cement relationships via the internet.
- Perhaps the first (and initially most striking) point to make is that using the Internet can be an incredibly cost effective way to both acquire new customers and maintain a relationship with current ones. This is not to say that a company should focus purely on the Internet (with a very few exceptions, this would be a very poor decision), but rather companies should view the Internet as another tool in their arsenal. While online communications and relationships should not be the be all and end all of a customer-company dialogue, it is a brilliant medium through which relationships can be built and maintained. The reason for this is the ease of communication that the Internet allows. This level of communication is revolutionizing the way businesses connect with their customer base and it should be utilized as much as possible.
- So how exactly can a business do this? The first step is to implement a process by which customers can ask questions and get them answered in a prompt manner, making it possible to build a relationship across not just towns but states and even countries. The bottom line here is ease of contact. Make it so that customers feel they can get in touch easily and a business will be more than halfway to building a lasting relationship.
- Another mutually beneficial plan is to enable customers to purchase goods and services in a number of ways. This obviously is beneficial to the business, but the convenience for the customer will result not just in increased sales, but also a much higher level of customer satisfaction.
- Online newsletters are a great way to communicate with customers and to make them feel valued and part of a business’ success and plans for the future. The newsletter does not have to resemble the New York Times, but as long as it combined news, perhaps some offers and details of new products it will more than repay any initial outlay (which should be very modest). Regular updates will keep a company in the customers’ thoughts.
- Last, but certainly not least, is the level of feedback the Internet allows. Listening to customers’ feedback and creating a medium for this feedback to be sent is one of the most straightforward but most effective ways of building a relationship with customers online.
About the author
Kevin Harris is a freelance writer for Adobe. Adobe software, such as photo editing programs, and services revolutionize how the world engages with ideas and information, anytime, anywhere, and through any medium. They also offer many other services such as graphic design.