Define Customer Relations

Customer relations is the primary focus for business.

“Customer relations” is a blanket term that describes a company’s interactions with its customers, from initial contact to building and developing long-term relationships. Because customers are the lifeblood of any company, it is imperative that customer service workers—and indeed all employees—have a solid understanding of a company’s approach to customer relations. Whether you are training a customer service team or a single employee, or you want to improve your own customer service skills, there are several strategies that can help you build solid relationships with every customer.

First and Last Impressions

Customer relations is about building lasting impressions.

Research has indicated that people recall the first and last moments of a customer service experience more strongly and for a longer period of time than any other part of the experience. For example, a chef in a restaurant may deliver the most delicious meal of his career to a lucky pair of diners, but if the glass doors are full of fingerprints, those diners may be less predisposed to enjoying the chef’s masterpiece. While you should take care in all aspects of the customer relationship, special consideration should be given to the first and last moments of customer encounters.

Time, Effort and Money

Companies often invest millions of dollars in improving their customer service processes.

Building an effective company based on great customer service takes time, effort and capital investment. Companies need to invest in regular customer relations training and professional development, as well as current technologies and tools to help employees do their jobs. Better customer service leads to higher revenues, and so investments made to improve delivery, efficiency and effectiveness of service are usually wise investments.

Be Real

Many consumers want to be able to speak to people.

The goal is to build relationships with customers so that they keep buying from your company. This is why it’s important to let your customers connect with real people who have real names. These days it has become easy to direct customers to websites and online information, but that also makes it easier to lose touch with them. Nobody can build a relationship with a website alone, so it’s important to always have the human-to-human interaction available, whether it be through a live chat or a toll-free number.

Stay in Touch

Be available to your customers in a variety of ways.

Building a relationship with customers requires following up with them when they have had a problem. This shows the customers that you care about their needs, and makes them far more likely to care about other things you have to offer them, such as products or services you may have. Keep in touch with your customers even if there are no problems. Look for ways to anticipate your customers’ needs and contact them proactively. Offer an opt-in email newsletter to keep your customers informed and establish your expertise. Be reachable by phone, email and fax.

Internal and External Service

Typical customer service goes to how front-line workers serve customers, but in reality it has to do with relationships in the company as a whole. The cooperation and smooth operation of employees within and across different departments is arguably the most crucial component of any customer relations strategy. Today’s demanding consumers expect fast and positive solutions to their problems and needs. To ensure teamwork among departments, any good strategy should emphasize treating coworkers, superiors and subordinates just like customers.