I regularly research and write articles that eulogise about the importance of building customer relationships. If you follow the Conversocial blog there are recurring regular themes: it’s easier and more cost-effective to retain customers than acquire new ones, existing customers are more likely to buy from a brand again and messaging channels are the most effective way to keep these retained and loyal customers engaged.
That last part is probably the key message I want to impress on you for this article. Building customer relationships that last are how companies grow, just look at the brands below and how much of their revenue comes from their ‘members’. There are plenty of avenues that you can use to engage customers, but for modern consumers, messaging channels are the most effective tools in your arsenal.
Consumers rate convenience (51%) and speed (36%) as the most important factors when choosing how to interact with brands but it doesn’t mean they’ll settle for subpar experiences. In fact 70% of customers stop doing business with a brand after poor CX. Messaging channels are the ideal tool to meet these needs – they offer automation, personalization and engagement on a customer’s preferred channel of communication.
Here are 5 Top Ways to Build Customer Relationships
1. Engage Across the Customer Journey
You’ve got to do more than just woo a customer so they’ll buy your product then move on to the next one. Modern customer experience is about building and maintaining relationships at the acquisition, engage and care stage.
Create seamless flows to ensure the first purchase is as smooth as possible, send multiple updates at the WISMO (where is my order) stage so customers always know where their package is and be proactive with offers or reminders for recurring purchases. Brands with the best digital customer experiences have an 89% retention rate - so keeping the engagement consistent and relevant is where you build and maintain excellent customer relationships.
2. Understand Modern Consumer Needs
As I wrote earlier, customers value convenience and speed above all other things for interactions with brands. The adoption of digital solutions over the past 18 months has created a switch in consumer preferences. They now dictate their own buyer journey; choosing where, when and how they do business with you.
The expectation has become that they are able to receive personalized and exceptional conversational experiences, so it’s up to brands to recognize this and change CX strategies to reflect this. Each brand and customer base is different though, with different segments within each of those audiences. The key thing is to analyze the conversations - what are the most frequent intents? Can you automate to make the customer’s experience more efficient? Where would being proactive generate more revenue? We all have buyer personas, but to truly build successful customer relationships, it needs to go deeper than ‘Gustav the upwardly mobile cheese lover’.
3. A Perfect Blend of Automation and Humans
Some situations need the scalability of bots, but even with the best conversational designer in the world, automation is no substitute for the empathy of human agents. It’s just a case of brands working out where to deploy a bot and building in the agent hand-off at the opportune time.
This can work in two ways:
- Analyzing the most common intents on messaging channels, often WISMO for retailers, and building a bot to automate the process. If a customer reaches out wanting to track an order then an automated process will be far more efficient than a human could ever be. If the intent is a more complicated situation, then a hand off to an agent is preferable.
- Bots and agents working in tandem. With Conversocial’s Switchboard, a conversation can switch seamlessly between human and automation, depending on what’s required – customer authentication or in-channel payment are handled by bots, and once completed the human to human interaction can resume.
A handover between bot and agent on Google's Business Messages
4. Ensure Brand/Consumer Conversations are Continuous
Forrester found that 67% of people will drop a brand or abandon their purchase if they have to repeat information at different stages of their buyer journey. Modern consumers don’t see email, phone and messaging channels as separate interactions – they all make up one single relationship.
It’s difficult to connect the dots easily when dealing with multiple channels, but by putting messaging front and center of the customer relationship, continuous conversations that provide complete context are possible. Tools like Conversocial’s Agent Workspace, customer-facing staff get a 360 view of every interaction between each customer and the brand, making satisfying, efficient and personalized conversations the norm.
5. Make it Personal
A key component of the convenience that modern consumers demand is not being bombarded with irrelevant adverts or proactive notifications. When building customer relationships, showing your worth as a brand and that you understand what they need and when is vital. Sending the right message, to the right person, at the right time is CX gold.
Keep them informed at every stage from purchase to delivery, 80% of consumers want direct communication post-purchase. Offer the chance to opt-in for updates relevant to them – recurring purchases, subscription renewals or flight status updates – and send them on their preferred messaging channel. With intelligent segmentation and automation, it can feel like each notification is from a customer’s most helpful and informative friend.
It takes time and effort to build loyal customer relationships, but you just need to look at which of the world’s biggest brands invest in retaining their customers and how big a proportion of their revenue it generates to understand its importance.