Strong customer relationships are vital to any business in every industry. Not only are strong customer relationships important for your business reputation, but they also give you a higher return on investment. I have talked about this before in a previous article, but businesses spend less money on their loyal customers. Loyal customers account for 60% of your sales, which is why it's so important to look at your customer relationships and improve them.

Here are some easy ways to improve your customer relationships, all without spending a dime!

Welcome Feedback

As much as we'd like to think we know everything, we don't. Technology, the market, customer desires, and basically everything else that we know is constantly changing. New discoveries are being made and as a society, we have to adapt, including business owners.

If your customers come to you with a new idea or a way to improve something about your business, listen to what they have to say. At the end of the day, your in business because of your customers, and you want to make the experience great for them.

An easy way to let your customers know that you are a business that appreciates feedback is to clearly open the floor for it. On your business website, have a customer service email or a way for customers to reach you directly. If a customer leaves a review on Facebook or Google, respond to it whether it's one star or five stars.

Communication

Communication is really important to improve customer relationships. For example, let's say you are a company that sells products to clients and you have to renew contracts every year. You'll want to make sure you are communicating with your customers throughout the year to make sure they still like your product or service and let them know you are still there.

This is important for smaller-scale businesses too. For retail and smaller restaurants, you could have an email list where you send your loyal customers information about new products and features. They'll feel like they were the first to know which gives them a sense of importance.

Communication can also be achieved through social media. People like to have access to their favorite companies at any time of the day. You can also use social media to communicate with your customers about new features and products. Here is a great example of a simple announcement made my Chipotle on their Twitter account:

Transparency

Transparency is important to ensure you don't leave your customers and clients feeling taken advantage of. Going back to my example about renewing contracts, you want to make sure your contracts are very clear and you explain them thoroughly. Let your clients ask questions and if you have something to hide, you might need to take a look at your own business model and ethics.

If a customer or client finds out that you weren't fully transparent in your deal, they're going to lose all trust for you. Word like this travels fast and you could find yourself with a reputation for being untrustworthy.

Get to Know Them

Don't be afraid to get to know your customers. Use this as an opportunity to find out about their personal lives, such as do they have kids and what their interests are. This gives you a chance to really personalize each of the relationships you have with your customers. You can even use this as an opportunity to send them information that pertains to their interests.

Let's say one of your customers likes sailing and owns a boat. If you heard about a boat show or an event that you think might interest them, feel free to pass along the information! This will make your clients feel less like customers and more like a friend. Paying extra attention to your customers will keep them coming back and potentially lead to recommendations.

Go Above and Beyond

Going above and beyond for your customers is really going to set you apart from your competition and create a strong relationship with your customers. Some easy ways could be to resolve a customer issue with a free item or discount.

Let's say a new customer came in and purchased a pizza from your restaurant. For whatever reason, they were unsatisfied with their food and decided they would no longer come back. Use this as an opportunity to make amends and show them you are a business that is determined to make things right. You can personally apologize to them and tell them the next pizza they order is on the house.

This customer will see that you take customer feedback seriously and that happy customers are more important to you than money is. If you've ever seen a bad review on Yelp, a good business owner will respond to them. The majority of the time the customer changes their review because the business owner took the time to fix the problem and show them they care.

Here is a great example of a company trying to fix a situation between a customer:

Reward Loyal Customers

Loyal customers are going to be the driving force of your business. If you don't already have a loyalty program in place, look into some that come at no cost to you. This is a great way to reward loyal customers that pick your business over your competition.

Some great features to look for in a loyalty program are birthday rewards and double or triple reward days. These are a fun way to get your customers involved and show them you want to pay them back for their service.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, having strong relationships with your customers is something every business owner can and should do. At the end of the day, customers want to feel taken care of and appreciated. A solid team of employees who genuinely strive to make the customer experience a great one will help you achieve this. When making changes and implementing new strategies, keep your customers in the back of your mind and remember, they are who you are serving.