How to Build Long-Term Relationships with Customers

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The concept of customer loyalty is simple. 


It means that customers find your brand so trustworthy that they pick you over other alternatives – even in times when the alternatives are easier to access or cheaper to purchase.


For example, your favorite coffee shop is the place for you despite the new place that opened up close to you. Why? The barista knows exactly how you like your coffee, and you’ve probably racked up enough points with them that you are this close to getting a free cup of coffee.


This relationship can be replicated for your e-commerce store if the right actions are taken. In this article, we want to show you the hacks and practices to ensure your customers stay with you for a long time.


Why Build Relationships with Customers?


Why Build Relationships with Customers


The main aim of your e-commerce store is to make a considerable profit. The way to make more profit is to increase sales or reduce costs. One of the rare ways to do both of these at the same time is to nurture long-term relationships with your customers intentionally.


Long-term relationships serve to increase your profit because you have customers who will buy from you (you can make sure of this through subscription sales, loyalty programs, etc.). 

They are likely also responsible for a portion of your new sales since they trust you enough to refer you. But that’s just on one hand.


On the other hand, it helps you reduce costs since you do not have to do a fresh batch of marketing and customer acquisition strategy to get your old customers to buy. It is more expensive to acquire new customers (think marketing costs, lead nurturing, etc) than to nurture old ones. 


To calculate your customer retention so far – is how much of your customers have become repeat buyers check this article on the subject. 


9 Ways to Build Long-term Relationships with Customers


Everyone is looking for something. And that is anything that makes their lives easier. Once you are able to hack the process of making your customers’ journey as easy as possible, they become customers for life. 


Therefore, the foundation of building long-term relationships is always to consider the following: “What option is going to make this easier for my customer?”


We’ll delve into the nine ways you can build upon the foundation to have great relationships with your customers.


1.Understand Your Customer’s Motivations


Understand Your Customer's Motivations


For instance, in the initial example of your favorite coffee shop where the barista knows how you like your coffee, it is crucial in relationships to understand the other party’s needs. 


Understanding your customer means being able to predict their needs, and being able to predict their needs means being prepared when they ask or knowing the exact timing to make certain purchase suggestions.


However, to get to know your customer this well, you need data. This means that a huge part of building a relationship with your customers involves building a database from your interactions with them.


You can use CRM software to keep track of your interactions with them and ensure that your data-gathering process is transparent and fair. 


The aim here is to be able to keep track of your customer’s preferences. For example, if they made a complaint previously regarding how their items were packaged, note it and ensure that the next order has their preferred packaging.


2.Never Ignore Loyalty Programs


Remember that feeling that comes from being part of the inner club? Replicate that with your customers. Build a loyalty program for your customers, and if you already have one, ensure it is one that actually excites your customers. 


That is, the rewards need to be what they can look forward to, and the process needs to be seamless so they do not get tired of trying to win points.


There’s a thrill that occurs in situations perceived to be win-win. So, if a customer feels like they are getting value in terms of a product, and you can also attach a reward for a particular achievement, the customer goes away feeling fulfilled.


Loyalty programs – when done right – keep your customers coming back for more.


3.Communicate Clearly


Communicate Clearly


Your customers want to know in clear terms what they can expect from you. They want to know that they can trust you to deliver on your words. 


Whether you are forwarding the tracking details from your shipping partner or sorting out delays, always keep your clients up-to-date. They want to avoid wondering what is happening with their package or if you’ll come through for them like you promised.


When communicating with your clients, keep these in mind:


  • They can tell if you are distracted. Always pay attention to what they’re saying, and ensure you understand them.


  • Share your knowledge with them. Your customers are looking to make informed decisions, and they do not mind spending huge amounts once they perceive that you truly are trying to help them. 


Give them reasons why a particular product is best for this time. Turn down their purchase if what they’re purchasing does not help them at the time. Look out for their best interests. These are the things they remember in times of referrals or when they want to make their next purchase.


  • Be friendly and helpful. Let your customers know you appreciate them sincerely.


  • Communicate regularly through email or via social media. Always ensure your customers have you in their minds. Avoid overdoing it, though.


4.Appreciate Your Customers


Letting your customers know how grateful you are that they are choosing to shop with you achieves two things. It lets the customer feel seen and also opens the door to further purchases. 


Beyond the normal `Thank you for shopping with us!’, another way to let your customers know how grateful you are is to celebrate with them on their special days – birthdays, anniversaries, etc. 


Imagine opening your mailbox to find a personalized “Happy Birthday” note from a place you shopped before – they would definitely stand out in your mind the entire day. Give your customers this feeling too. 


Beyond a note, you can also give them something special, like extra points on their loyalty program or an extra thoughtful package if they’re making purchases on a special day.


5.Deliver Value


Deliver Value


Be insistent that everything associated with your brand delivers value to your customers and anyone who experiences your brand. This starts with choosing your fulfillment company, your brand photos, and the content of your emails. Deliver value every time.


Thoroughly research and test your partners – Do they deliver products according to schedule? What is the quality of the products they source? How do they respond to your inquiries?


Ensure your product photography speaks to the quality of your product. Use adequate lighting and a quality camera to achieve this. If you are not satisfied, you can hire a product photographer.


Ensure your brand has a specific brand color, brand voice, logo, etc. You want your customers to always recognize you. Lastly, always exceed expectations in your product delivery.


6.Treat Your Customers Individually


It is often a mistake to group all your customers and treat them in the exact way. People can tell when a thing is generic, and they often hate it. So, call them by name and remember their preferences.


When taking surveys, include questions that probe into the emotions of your customers. For example, how have they envisioned showing up at an office dinner party? What would they wish to project? How do they want to make their loved ones feel when they receive a gift?


Knowing the emotions behind their buying decisions helps you tailor your suggestions more effectively. Surprise them with an email that has the exact dress of their dreams you happen to have in stock. Thrill them with emails that are not salesy but feature suggestions on some special ways to surprise a loved one.


Personalization makes them think, “What does my favorite brand have for ME today?” Because it helps you speak to them directly instead of making them feel like a random buyer.


7.Empower Your Employees


Never forget. The effectiveness of your brand and your customer relationship depends heavily on your team’s strengths. 


As your ecommerce store grows, you’ll need more hands. And the people you get to fill these positions will either make or mar your store’s growth and brand reputation. 


Go for people who have the indispensable skills you’re looking for and the soft skills of integrity, patience, and respect. 


But don’t just stop there. Let them know about your vision for every customer and ensure it is something they buy into. Invest in them by training them to improve their skills daily. 

The goal is not only to ensure that you, as the owner, treat your customer like a king. Instead, the goal is for your customer to receive royalty treatment from the first point of contact throughout the entire customer journey.


8.Prioritize The Customer Experience


How do you respond to customer complaints? What is the average response time for inquiries? Do you go the extra mile to ensure that your customer is satisfied? How personalized is your customer service?


Is your customer care system built in such a way that there’s always someone to respond to the customer? You can do this either through 24-hour live support (which is more expensive) or by integrating AI live chat systems into your store. 


Stay on the phone with the customer until they feel their complaint has been resolved, send follow-up communications to check that the help they received was satisfactory, and ensure every customer is always addressed.


9.Ask For Feedback


Ask For Feedback


A customer’s input/feedback can give you an idea that turns to the strategy your brand is built on. Feedback helps you to know what the customer experience looks like on the other side. It helps you know when you’re doing something the customer is tired of. It helps you know what to tweak.


Take regular surveys, and encourage your customers to leave reviews. You can also take it a step further and organize focus groups – offline or online – where customers who are a part of your loyalty program, for example, can come together to share their experiences with the brand and what their expectations are going forward.


Final Thoughts


Your brand tells a story. And that story is reliant on the way customers perceive your brand. 


There are expectations – said and unsaid, and to build long-term relationships with your customers, you must go the extra mile to discover these expectations and determine if they are being met.


Remember, the first rule of thumb is to make things easy for your customers. Put that in mind when you are setting up anything. “Will this make the customer experience easier?”

Customers are the goldmine of your ecommerce business. Take good care of them.


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