January 2021

This year, build stronger customer relationships

A lot of things may have changed for your business during 2020. Many small businesses faced slowing sales and supply chain disruptions as customers grew more and more cautious. But 2021 is a whole new year! It may be time to take a good look at the fundamentals to make sure your customer experience is still strong.

Whether you own a bakery, provide accounting services or operate a consulting company, business comes down to customer relationships. And there are proven ways to build new relationships and strengthen the ones you already have.

Start a conversation

Good communication is the secret to developing strong, long-lasting customer relationships. But communication is a two-way street. When you talk to customers, listen carefully to their needs. It’s an opportunity to gain valuable insights that could strengthen your relationship.

Imagine a scale — one of those old-fashioned, two-sided scales you might see in a lawyer’s office. On one side, place your outgoing marketing communications — the sales letters and brochures you use to educate customers about your company. On the other side, place the feedback you get from your customers. To remain in balance, the “feedback” side of the scale must be continually restored and replenished.

To get feedback, you have to reach out

A woman reaches out to a valued customer

You’d be surprised by what you can learn from a simple “postcard” survey. Better yet, set aside a little time every week to speak with a customer by phone. Engage him or her in a warm, meaningful conversation. Don’t be afraid to ask, “How are we doing?” Learn to solicit and value customer feedback as the foundation of your business relationship, and teach your staff to appreciate its value too.

You might also show your appreciation with a loyalty program that offers your customers perks. The idea is simple: When they do business with you they get a reward like a discount on their next purchase.

For example, Bank of America has a program called Preferred Rewards for Business that offers members valuable benefits and rewards that grow as their deposit and/or Merrill business investment balances increase.

Giving away branded items, such as inexpensive pens or notepads, is another good idea. Consider handing out canvas tote bags with your logo printed on them. Remember, it’s the little things that count, and seeing your brand on items throughout the day will help build awareness.

A woman reaches out to a valued customer

Visit the Small Business Resources site for additional strategies and ideas.

To discuss your business goals, set aside some time for a telephone call with a Small Business Specialist.

MAP3351330 | 12/2020