Investing In Customer Relationships

07 October 2013, by A. Cedilla

Permission plus access equals consent to email. That is permission marketing in a nutshell. The first step to starting a good customer relationships is getting consent. The other steps cover generosity, professionalism and providing value while building goodwill and trust.

Even family can fall by the wayside if you –and they– don’t keep in touch. Just think of Facebook:  while some people have mastered the art of keeping in touch via social media, it’s far too easy to rely on pictures and status updates and think you have the entire picture.

Face-time –or any constant, meaningful interaction, is necessary so you won’t be forgotten. Everyone has their own thing to do, and are busy doing it, and as a business owner it’s your responsibility to keep the flow of communication open and active. Whether it’s personal or professional, taking the effort to keep in touch matters. And business-wise, where does your most vital relationship reside? Between you and your customers.

Don’t be like the people who turn into slobs after they’ve got a commitment. Passive aggressive bait and switch and tactics like that will sink your business in the long run. Keep customers engaged and continue giving them great value. Surprise them. Go above and beyond once in a while to show you appreciate their presence in your life. That’s why people stay, they keep getting good value and they keep interested.

Kept these three words in mind: Invest, Customers, Relationship.

Invest
Just like in regular financial investments, you have to answer important questions before setting out:

  • What is your time line? You have a business plan, what does is say about your timelines?
  • How much are you willing to risk, and what is your risk-tolerance profile (hint: It aligns with your goals)
  • What are you putting into this, and how much of it can you risk/are willing to risk losing? Consequently, what measures do you have in place to minimize and address loss?
  • What do you want out of this,and what kind of returns you’re expecting: financially, career-wise, brand and reputation, influence and reach, etc.

Customers

  • Who are they, what do they want, what do they need, and how can you answer both questions and delight them? Have you broken down the processes by which you provide the product and made is as bullet-proof as possible? How about your delivery process? Do you follow-up to see how it went?

Relationships

  • How good are we talking about here? Raving fans sort of relationship? How big is the pool of customers? What’s the least number of people you can get as regulars to make a living, and are you taking care of the customers you already have?
  • Can your infrastructure support supporting them and fulfilling their orders as well as their needs?
  • What and how much are you willing to put in, and what do you intend to get in return?

When you want to build something that last it won’t come free. Not in time, or work, or planning and forethought, or money. All things come at a cost, and things that last don’t come easy. Or cheaply.

You can see this reasoning play out in guarantees. Pay this much, be assured of such-and-such years of service. That aside, living by this philosophy of going for the long term is a powerful aid in ensuring the continued health of your business.Think long-term, plan long-term, and most importantly act for long-term– well, you significantly push your potential of lasting long-term into reality.

 

Reputations aren’t built in a day, although they can be ruined in minutes. A career isn’t made in months. Relationships that stand the test of time take time and effort to maintain. If you have a certain destination in mind, you have to put in the time and the work to get there, to get there.

You want things to last, you pay attention on a regular basis. You think ahead and and head things off at the pass. You plan for trends and deep changes, and you look for what’s coming — prediction, industry changes, new technological developments.

You have a plan for good times, and you also plan for the bad times.

You can’t be a business without customers, or develop a following without followers — who have their reasons to follow you. Give them a reason to trust you and rely on what you’re offering them. The rewards don’t come immediately. You see their influence come out over time. More customers, repeat orders, more clients coming in by word-of-mouth. Long-term relationships coming in over time (of which long-term is suited for).

You don’t see that in the Now. Right now things are scattered, you have this direction one day, move differently the next. You only get to connect the dots later, when enough time and enough life has passed.

The simplest and easiest way to keep in touch with your customers is to get their email addresses (and thus implicit permission to keep sending emails) in exchange for relevant and valuable content. Most sites do this by offering a starter set of some sort that personifies the main thrust of their website, and that offers to help the customer with their most pressing concerns on the subject or niche occupied by the website.

Basic guidelines map out the following:

  • Relevant, timely and valuable content.
  • No fluff or full blast sales pitch — this is the equivalent of a telemarketer calling you right in the middle of dinner — no one wants to be harassed in the middle of what they’re doing by a sales letter.
  • Consistent quality – ask yourself if you would be happy to receive your own email.
  • Don’t fade away – consistent reminders in the form of communication keeps your presence fresh in their lives.

You want something built to last, you build with care over time and with consistent, focused attention. Whether it’s your career, your marriage, or your business, the idea still applies. It takes time and can’t be rushed, but over time you see the returns in the small things that start the ball rolling before it gains its own momentum.

The things that last are the things you take care to invest in.

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