The relationship you have with your business customers has a huge impact on your own work.
Bad customers cause stress, anxiety, extra work, and they can cost you serious money. On the other hand, good customers are a joy to work for. Things are so easy, you may even ask yourself, “why isn’t everyone else like this?”
The thing is, it doesn’t have to be luck of the draw. You can identify key traits in advance and take action to nurture positive relationships, even when there’s a risk of things going downhill.
The trick is recognizing signs of bad customer service and taking action to improve them.
Importance of maintaining good customer relationships
When we talk about customer relationships, we’re talking about a range of different people – current, future and previous customers. All of these customers offer value (and money) to your business in their own ways.
Having good relationships with customers at all stages increases both your customer conversion and retention rates. It’s important for business too – better customer relationships get invoices paid faster, help to attract more customers, make more money and be more successful.
In a time when more and more people are making lifestyle decisions about their work, it’s vital for you and your staff to have positive work relationships with your customers.
Strong customer relations—benefits for companies
The significance of customer relationships in business is hard to understate. Not only does it impact the way you and your staff feel about your work, but it can be seen in specific business metrics too.
- More sales. Customer service really does matter to people. Many potential customers check out reviews before making buying decisions, and current customers can be encouraged to buy more if you have a good customer service relationship with them.
- Better retention. If your current customers have a good relationship with you, they’re less likely to go elsewhere. Why would they, if they’re getting what they need from you and enjoying it? Businesses put a lot of effort into attracting new customers, so it’s worth focusing on keeping them too.
- Better customer lifetime value. CLV refers to the total value of a customer to your business. It’s the overall net income you get from their business minus the acquisition costs. The longer they stay with you, the better this will be.
- More referrals. Word on the street matters, and each customer is a potential brand advocate. If you have a good relationship with them, they’re much more likely to refer you to other people they know.
7 tell-tale signs of poor customer service
Every interaction with your customer (or potential customer) is a make-or-break opportunity that can either leave them impressed or underwhelmed. A customer relationship in business is the totality of all of these interactions.
These are some of the common characteristics of a good client relationship that are often done poorly.
A slow welcome
First impressions last. When a customer first interacts with your business, they want to feel welcome. Ensuring all aspects of this first engagement is critical – and it could be as simple as having a staff member personally greet them. This gets things off to a good start, and is a gateway to other customer service they may need.
An untidy office or website
First time customers are quick to judge, and if they see dirty coffee cups, stacks of untidy mess and general untidiness, then you can expect that judgement to be harsh.
This also applies to online businesses, but more so. A messy or cluttered website with a poor user experience will turn customers away, and give existing customers a reason to look elsewhere.
On the flip side, if things are laid out tidily and they can find what they need easily, that makes things much easier. Does having an untidy office or website mean you’re bad at your job? Of course not. But it will create an impression that things are cluttered, disorganised and messy.
Customers kept waiting
If a customer wants service, they should get it quickly. People are time poor, and the longer they have to wait to get service, the more frustrated they’re likely to be.
Wait times may also be perceived as a bad sign – for example, if it takes longer to reply to a customer, they may start to think something has gone wrong.
Communication is like a universal key to solving a whole lot of other problems. By communicating well, you can set realistic expectations, understand customer needs, and keep them in the loop at all times.
However, if you don’t communicate well, customers are left to interpret silence themselves. This can lead to frustration, exaggeration and stress. It’s imperative that businesses communicate with customers so they feel valued and informed.
Lack of initiative
Customers don’t always understand their own issues. It takes initiative to identify other ways to help them beyond their specific instructions. At the same time, customers can be frustrated if you don’t take that initiative.
To use the mechanic example again, someone may bring their car in for an oil change. They may have another issue with their car that they don’t know about, and if that problem leads to them breaking down a week later, they may be frustrated that you didn’t identify it in advance.
Leads don’t convert
Monitoring your conversion rate can provide valuable clues about your customer relationships. For example, if you’re getting in a lot of leads but only converting very few, it can be a sign of poor customer service.
It’s a good idea to look into why leads aren’t converting so you can take steps to improve it.
Profits of business drop
Shrinking profits can be the result of a large range of factors, including poor customer relationships. Of all the metrics you monitor in your business, profit is most significant. If you find profits dropping, one of the questions you should ask yourself is if your customer service is to blame.
Read more: See more signs of poor customer relationships.
Top tips for creating mutually beneficial relationships with clients
As well as addressing the tell-tale signs of poor customer service, there are a few effective techniques you can use for building good relationships with your customers.
- Get good foundations in place. It helps to start things off on the right note. Get to know your customers and what they want, so you can focus your business on delivering those results for them. Understand how they want to be communicated to, and set fair expectations around timelines, prices and boundaries.
- Ensure open communication. The way you communicate with customers can either leave them underwhelmed or well informed. They should be able to ask questions if they have any, and get good responses. The better your communication, the more comfortable they will be.
- Exceed expectations. If you do what your customers expect, you will go a long way to having a good relationship. However, if you can go above and beyond the call of duty, you can build a relationship that’s great. Finish work ahead of time, or under budget, or share your expertise beyond the scope of the project you’re working on.
- Treat your customers well. Customers are people, and should be treated as such. Thank them for paying invoices, check in on them if you hear they were sick for a few days, or ask them how their holiday was. Common courtesy matters.
- Get feedback (and use it). Your customers have an incredibly valuable perception of your business that you don’t have. So ask them what they think. If you get good feedback, make sure you do something about it. Using a customer relationship management tool can be a good way of collecting feedback.
- Make their life easier. People want things to be easy and convenient. If you can find new, better ways of improving customers’ lives, you’ll go a long way to building a strong customer relationship.
Take home message
Customer relationships are hugely influential in business, with the ability to make or break your success.
It’s important to take the first step in fostering positive relationships with your customers. Businesses have the opportunity to set the tone from the outset. If you can do that right, you’ll find the vast majority of customers will respond in kind.
One of the best things you can do is to dedicate time to identifying opportunities through good b2b relationships. Analyze your systems and processes critically and see where you can make improvements. This type of foundational work will impress your customers, improve your bottom line and enable your business to grow.
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