Your customers are the life blood of your business. So whether you own an e-commerce business or a brick-and-mortar, it’s important to let your customers know how much you value them. And once you start thinking about your customers in terms of relationships rather than transactions, you’ll find that customer retention comes naturally.
We assume you’re already familiar with tried-and-true customer service tips, so here are five not-so-common ways to strengthen your customer relationships and keep them coming back for more.
Put your mom’s secret cookie recipe to good use
There aren’t many folks who can say no to a freshly baked morsel of goodness. Keeping this logic in mind, I dug up my mom’s secret chocolate chip cookie recipe and started baking cookies for customers. You don’t necessarily have to be a world-class baker to win someone over, but going out of your way to make those small gestures can really bring out your company’s humanity.
Make house calls
Nothing says “I value you” like some face time. At Endicia, we make it a point to schedule in-person customer visits just to check in and see how things are going. This gives us the chance to troubleshoot any potential problems first-hand, and customers love the individual attention.
Get your customers talking
There’s no better way to make someone feel valued than by asking his or her opinion. Invite your customers over to your office and set up a customer council. By opening up a discussion and allowing customers to voice their take on areas they’d like to see improved, you’ll start earning their trust.
When possible, personalize your products for individual customers – it shows you care. I often prototype customized solutions for our clients. For instance, one of our customers was having some trouble getting their shipping labels to fit their packaging – and let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. So I put on my engineering hat and prototyped a software solution just for them. Remember: when it comes to customer relationships, there’s no such thing as “one size fits all.”
Make friends online
If you have expertise on a certain subject, don’t keep it all to yourself. Put it out there so others can benefit. When Endicia was still in its early days, my partner and I spent a lot of time on eBay’s discussion boards, engaging with people who had questions about ecommerce shipping services. By answering a few questions, we began growing new relationships. And soon enough, those ties evolved into new customer relationships. Make it a goal to identify where your customers hang out online, and join the conversation!
Taking the time to grow and maintain your customer relationships is hands-down the best business investment you’ll ever make. When your customers are smiling, there’s a greater chance they’ll continue to do business with you in the long run and recommend you to their friends – and your bottom line will thank you for that.
A version of this blog post was published on Entrepreneur. To check out that article, please click here.