Your customer’s relationship with your business is a core part of your brand. This relationship determines whether customers will walk in your doors, buy a product, and return in the future. Like any relationship in your life, customer relationships and branding your customer experience will require effort on your part. Here are five ways of nurturing and building this key part of your small business brand.
1. Focus on meeting needs. Instead of telling customers how great your business and its products are, tell them how you are going to meet their needs. What problem are you solving for them? If you can make someone’s life easier or more pleasant, it will be easy to be viewed as a friend, an entity that the customer has an ongoing relationship with. Make this customer focus a core part of your brand and your marketing. Read more about marketing to the affluent.
2. Make all interactions as pleasant as possible. Few people can maintain a healthy, ongoing relationship with a person who is difficult to deal with, and business relationships operate in a very similar way. From the way you and your employees answer the telephone to the way you handle returns, all customer interactions should be streamlined and managed in a way that the customer comes out feeling like a winner. As with human relationships, business relationships are developed over time through positive interaction.
3. Create an aesthetically pleasing environment. Studies have shown over and over that the public prefers attractive people for both personal and business relationships. While aesthetics aren’t everything, they are a huge part of the overall picture. This means that creating clean and attractive spaces, both in physical locations and websites, is a key part of nurturing the customer relationship.
4. Put yourself out there. You would never make friends and build relationships in your day-to-day life if you stayed in your bedroom all day. You need to be in the public eye in a variety of ways, offering brand-consistent information that creates curiosity and encourages your target customer base to develop a relationship with you. Invite the customer to do business with you through marketing, including traditional advertising as well as nontraditional methods such as social networking and community involvement.
5. Maintain your brand. How would you feel if a good friend suddenly changed their behavior drastically? People find this frustrating and alienating whether they are dealing with a human relationship or a business one. Once you have a cohesive brand and logo design, let it permeate every aspect of your company. Customers will be more likely to behave as though they have a relationship with you if they feel that they know your business well. Let them get to know you by creating an authentic experience that is coordinated to be consistent over a wide variety of interactions and leads to complete brand integration and helps build brand loyalty.
There is an immense amount of give and take between branding and customer relationships. The way you deal with these relationships is a huge part of your overall brand, but your brand must be inviting enough that the customer is open to a relationship in the first place. Be sure that your brand is one that invites the customer to be friends; a branding consultant can help if you are unsure about the process.