7 Tips For Maintaining Strong Customer Relationships

7 tips for maintaining strong customer relationships

Strong customer relationships are the foundation of any business. More than ever, maintaining positive customer relationships is absolutely critical, said Jason Levesque, CEO of Lewiston, Maine-based Argo Marketing Group, a customer engagement services-focused company.
"Today the individual or business is fickle and quick to move because there are so many choices to [pick from]," said Levesque. "You have to retain customers, and if you do your job correctly, you build a relationship which builds brand loyalty."
Here are his seven best tips for maintaining positive customer relationships
1. Care + Customers = Loyalty
 Focusing on meeting a customer's needs, creating an emotional connection and treating them well will create customer brand loyalty, Levesque said.
"You get the initial sale but … [companies] must treat them well to add a lifetime of value," said Levesque. "For customers, it's now all about quality, and then quantity will come."
2. 24/7 Availability
 As customers have access to the Internet at all times, on their smartphones or laptops, businesses must be available 24 hours, seven days a week, Levesque believes.
"Cracks in the organization include not watching their customer base over the weekend in which Murphy's Law will take effect and then it might be too late to fix it," said Levesque.  "People work 24 hours, seven days a week. It's certainly on my phone and I can't escape it so companies need to make sure to be available."
3. Check List! 
When dealing with operations, having a checklist to make sure everything has been processed in the correct manner is necessary, said Levesque.
"Always check list, check list, check list," said Levesque. "Make sure you have a standard for operations and make sure they are followed. Everybody within an organization must be comfortable that certain lists are followed in sequence so people can jump in to cover somebody if need be, and somebody else can backfill that."
4. Have Empathy
According to Levesque, when dealing with customers who are expressing discontent, telling them you understand how they feel "can improve customer satisfaction."
"It comes down to three things: agree, isolate and respond, and do it in a timely manner," said Levesque. "Saying 'we can make sure to deal with that' or 'we'll do whatever it takes' will help to have a long-term customer."
5. Roll With The Punches
With so many options to provide customer feedback on businesses out there, customers will take it to the Internet to give their two cents when it comes to a negative experience, said Levesque.
"Today customers are so social and if you have one complain, that complaint can steamroll, whether it could be unfounded or not," said Levesque. "It's too late and damage is done but it can be a great avenue [to start] to maximize by engaging multiple mediums to reach audiences positively."
6. Social Media Is Your Friend
 While social media can seem intimidating or unhelpful, it is very informative and fun for both end users and internally within a company, said Levesque.
"Don't be afraid of social media; it's the biggest asset we have to keep [employees] aware of different facilities or departments," said Levesque. "It's not a luxury anymore to be active in social media. You have to be there and once you're there, you have to be committed."
7. Communication Is Key
Preventing closed-off interactions with the different departments within a business is imperative, said Levesque.
"Avoid silos, [where] business development doesn't talk with programmers, operation folks or frontline customer service agents. It's a big problem," said Levesque.
"Communication is key, but you can't use too much time to figure out how to communicate, when [there] should've just been communication," said Levesque. "[At my company,] we sit down, talk, ask questions and move on."