Fall in love with customer relationshipsBy Dana Ilovich

Valentine’s Day is behind us and hopefully our romantic lives are in order, so now it’s time to focus on another one of our most important relationships—our customer relationships.

Customer relationships should be of the utmost importance to you, because in the age of social media and review sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List, the love your customers spread can catapult your brand awareness to new heights.

And, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, 46 percent of American consumers say they always tell others about good experiences.

The bottom line is that the key to your customers’ hearts is good customer service.

In 2015, the paradigm for “good customer service” has changed quite a bit. Today’s consumers have shifted their expectations, which are now set by the explosion of touchpoint, social media, and online review sites.

Customers don’t want to be bogged down with long waiting queues and useless interactions. Today’s consumers long for meaningful interactions that are easy, fast, and—of course—friendly.

If you want to truly make your customer relationships to be about love, you need to go beyond delighting them.

Customer Relationships Require Transparency

The Internet has trained all of us to sniff out fake information and faulty terms and conditions like a well-trained blood hound. Save your brand the agony and be transparent with your customers about everything—and that means everything.

Many a PR crisis could’ve been deterred by organizations being upfront about company policies. This kind of honesty also forces change within your own company by holding everyone acountable for every decision.

Customer relationships have ceased being simply a one-way monologue. Today, customers expect to have a say not only on your product, but also corporate policies that may or may not jive with the ethos of your consumer community.

There’s a reason that corporate social responsibility is a trending topic, because it matters.

Empower Purchase Decisions

On a more micro-scale, you should make information easily accessible to your customers even on the product level. Empower their purchasing decisions by arming them with all necessary knowledge to alleviate decision paralysis and shopping cart abandonment. 

In the same vein, consider implementing social graph information and reviews on site and throughout other various engagements to create a level of trust in the information that your visitors are presented.

For the best customer relationships, experience counts. It is proven that is where customers can register their comments, complaints, and/or level of satisfaction, it can increase your conversion rate by around 18 percent.

We have become a double and triple fact checking society, so be sure your sins will find you out if you attempt to pull one over on your customers. You will feel it in the cost of returns and the loss of repeat business.

Never Make Them Wait

We can’t be blamed for our lack of patience: Instead let’s blame it on the Internet, Steve Jobs, and every other fantastical technological advance during the past 20 years.

Our expectations as consumers and information hunters have changed.

Gone are the days of your AOL dial-up going “skaweerureeweeert” every time you have to log on. Now with a simple finger swipe you have access to more information, more quickly than ever thought possible.

And now… ain’t nobody got time to wait.

These developments have made the human race much more efficient (when not dealing with Facebook addictions and SnapChat stalking) with how we view engagements with brands.

Your customers have grown accustomed to instantaneous resolution whether it is checking if the new Johnny Depp flick is any good (IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes), checking an app for their bank statement, or tweeting American Apparel because they haven’t received their order of new wintry leggings yet (yes, that is a thing).

We expect good service, which often requires minimal service at that, rather accessible knowledge or self-service.

Just like in any relationship, opening up two-way conversations and making life easier for the other party really will increase the love.

It’s all about the B2P (Business to People) model, regardless of who your business is targeting. Because we all just want respect, efficiency, and honesty.

For the best customer relationships, help them fall in love all over again..this time, with you.

photo credit: Flickr

Dana Ilovich

Dana Ilovich is the vice president of marketing at nanorep, the Internet's premier digital customer assistant. She has more than eight years of marketing strategy experience in both digital and offline platforms.

View all posts by Dana Ilovich