Building Your Customer Relationships

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Building Your Customer Relationships
Building Your Customer Relationships

Grow your customer asset

As we've discussed above, different portions of the population have different innate characteristics regarding how they handle the topics which are important to them and how they interact with others about these topics. Let's look more intensively at a different grouping, the people who are your customers. They all share two characteristics:

1. They were convinced by your selling process to purchase your product or service.
2. They've had experience of using your product or service.

Those individuals and your company have both invested a good deal of effort in creating this relationship. It's far easier to strengthen that relationship than to take individuals who have no knowledge of your product or service and bring them to that same point, i.e., a customer with a satisfactory experience of your product or service. If the experience of using your product or service is pleasurable, then you can consider these customers as stakeholders. Being one of your customers is something they value. Here are some of the benefits they may get from that association:

  • The pleasure of using your product or service.
  • The good feeling they get when they need to use your customer service for maintenance or repair.
  • The satisfaction they get by recommending your product or service to a friend who values your suggestion.
  • The delight they get when there are upgrades of the product or service which deliver significantly improved value.

None of these are all that difficult to achieve with customers who have already invested in your product or service. The theory of cognitive dissonance suggests they prefer to feel good about purchasing decisions they have already taken.

A very different customer relationship management

A new approach to customer relationship management is suggested by the two factors we discussed above:

  • Customers feel like stakeholders in the successful products they like to use.
  • Individuals are much more likely to be active members in online networks through social media.

Given that companies will not do well in making direct contact with potential purchasers, we should think how we can help and support our customer stakeholders to spread the word to their friends. It should work for prosumers, influencers, and the rest of the population too. A careful balance is implied here since we do not wish to alienate our stakeholders with too frequent contacts or contacts they do not welcome.

The ideal plan implies regular staying-in-touch messages, which allow the customer to take control and act on offers or request more support documents or devices they might wish to pass on to their friends. Some creativity is required with the ultimate goal being that the customer feels a warm and strengthening relationship with the company.

In a way this is an extension of the idea of customer-centric marketing, an approach that pictures the customer not as the end point in the communication process but as a potential node in an ever-extending network. When successful and occurring at a reasonable speed, you have achieved the marketers dream, true viral marketing.

Here are two references that will give you further ideas on how to strengthen your customer relationships:

Barry Welford writes for
Next Day Flyers and is a frequent blogger on business performance and Internet marketing. Connect with him via Google Plus.

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