A lot of businesses in Nigeria listed “finding new customers” as one of their top yearly goals. In comparison to finding new customers, there is not as much emphasis placed on quality customer relationships to retain repeat customers.
As more customers gain exposure to a lot more businesses, it is very important for a successful business to differentiate itself from the pack by focusing on building its brand and increasing its value to its top customers.
Building quality customer relationships is an important recipe in solidifying a memorable brand and retaining customers.
To delight and retain customers focus on the entire journey of your customer and provide value along the way from start to end.
Here are some tips on how to do this
Start with education and guidance
You want to start building a relationship with your customers way before they even become customers.
You have a product or service that is providing value and solving a particular problem, so you can help your customers along the way as they search for guidance to overcome this challenge.
According to CEB, With the amount of information that is readily available online, “57% of the purchase decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier”.
Once a prospect identifies that they have a particular problem, they would start with some research to find different solutions to their problem before deciding on a particular plan of action.
Your organization can provide educational resources that guide this decision-maker from the beginning of their journey to the point they make a decision.
By helping the customer think about the problem they’re having and helping them think about various ways of solving it, you will be building trust with someone that could eventually become a customer.
Providing valuable content around the challenges that the person is having allows you to forge solid customer relationships even before they decide to work with your business.
When a customer actually decides on how to proceed with solving their problem, they will be looking at competing vendors (hopefully, at this point your business is also shortlisted as a potential solution-provider).
When you do have the opportunity to present your business and what you have to offer, you want to fully understand the unique challenges that your customer is having and then come up with a customized solution for them.
A customized solution does not require you to changing your product or solution, it only requires you to adapt your solution to fit into the particular value needed for enhancing customer relationships.
During this time, you want to provide value along the way. Be conscious that your prospective customer is trying to make a decision.
Follow-up respectfully, without being overly pushy. Your level of professionalism and the value you provide during this stage could be what separates you from the pack and the reason why you are chosen among other competing vendors.
Manage expectations with consistent communication
Once you’ve been chosen as a vendor to provide a solution, make sure you deliver based on the plan that you and your customers have drawn up together.
Clarify all delivery dates and milestones with the customer and make sure you are setting and managing expectations right from the beginning. Then you and your team have to work diligently to deliver according to the agreed milestones.
This is a great way to deliver an experience that fosters quality customer relationships.
If there are any points of delay, be sure this is communicated immediately to the clients. You don’t want your clients to ever feel that they’re being left in the dark without a sense of what is going on in the project.
This is a way you provide value besides just delivering your service but delivering it in a way that the customer will be delighted.
As a rule of thumb, you should always be the one calling your client to keep them updated, your client should not be calling you to figure out what is going on.
If your engagement with your customer is a long-term (i.e 1-month and above), schedule regularly occurring meetings to keep both parties accountable and keep the communication channels clear and open.
Strengthen customer relationships with a guarantee
As you build your brand, make sure your default is to make your customers satisfied and happy.
When you prioritize a guarantee for your customer’s satisfaction and happiness, it does two things.
First, it increases the chances of them becoming repeat customers. Secondly, these satisfied customers become advocates for your business.
In Nigeria, word-of-mouth marketing is a very strong marketing channel to prioritize and you can get more business from these strong referrals. This can only be achieved if your customers believe they got the utmost value for the money they paid.
This value comes in the form of, not only the solution you provide but also, the customer service and how much you adapted to their needs during the delivery of your solution to them.
However, in an effort to delight and build good customer relationships, make sure to keep an eye on challenging customers that make unreasonable additional requests.
Once these requests start going out of the initial scope that was agreed on, you should point it out respectfully and figure out whether they are willing to bear the additional costs for what’s being requested.
That’s why it is very important to continuously manage expectations as a few customers could easily eat up the resources that you could use to provide more value to other customers that deserve the delight that you and your team provide.
Ask for feedback
Once you’re done with delivering your product or service, make sure you ask for feedback.
This feedback is very invaluable and it is what you’re going to use to improve your service and offering to your customer base.
There could easily have been aspects of your project or your product that you did not take into consideration. This is not a failure on your part, it is just an opportunity to learn how to serve your customers better.
Create a system where you can always request feedback from your customers and use the feedback to build more processes that will continue to strengthen your customer relationships and build brand loyalty.
Build in a loyalty program or community
As customer service is very important and paramount to building a delightful product and service delivery, incorporate a system that makes your top customers loyal to your brand.
This includes building a referral system, providing a rewards program for hitting certain milestones before allotted times, organizing free conferences and industry events, or even providing discounts during certain seasons to engage your top customers in your customer base.
By building these reward systems, you can build a sense of community that brings your customers together over shared interests. This will definitely endear your customer base to your company and towards your brand.
Ultimately this helps you solidify your customer relationships and brand to retain customers and continue to grow your business in Nigeria.