It’s never been more important to build and maintain good relationships with your customers. With such competitive marketplaces, letting down a customer in any way means they can simply vote with their feet (or the click of a mouse to be more exact). In reality, that means that more and more businesses seek to create closer relationships with their customer base.
Customer intimacy is what you are striving for, but just what is customer intimacy? How do you achieve and maintain it? We look at seven tactics that can help elevate your customer intimacy to a new level and that will keep your customers happy and your business performing well.
What is Customer Intimacy?
Customer intimacy is one of three components of ‘The Value Disciplines model’ designed by strategists Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema in the early 1990s. At its core lies the idea of a business aiming to tailor the products and services they provide to best meet the needs and desires of its customers.
A business that achieves, and maintains, customer intimacy can not only see improvements in crucial metrics such as conversion and retention rates; it also forges bonds with customers that are almost akin to friendship. You can demonstrate that you know and understand your customers so that they will come back to you time and time again.
7 Effective Tactics to Strengthen Customer Intimacy
Having a strong customer intimacy strategy can reap rewards, both in the short term and the long term. However, a good customer intimacy strategy goes beyond merely offering good products and great customer service. We look at 7 great tactics that can help.
1. Be Customer-Centric
At the end of the day, your customers pay the salaries of every single member of staff and businesses should always recognize this. Putting customers front and center of everything you do means that you are recognizing the importance of the relationship between you and your customer base and that your actions will benefit them as well as you.
Listen to your customers, and that means acting on negative feedback to improve things as well as highlighting and sharing positive reviews. When a customer has a poor customer experience, take steps to rectify it and make things better; they will appreciate you taking responsibility and are more likely to continue to be your customer.
Being customer-centric can be the first step in a good customer intimacy strategy in the same way an efficient order management system OMS can improve your inventory control.
At the heart of any successful relationship lies effective communication and that is especially true in the world of business. It is also more important than ever now that you are operating in an omnichannel world and you need to take note of how customers want to communicate and engage with you across their chosen platforms and channels.
Your customer intimacy strategy should include different methods of ‘talking’ to your customer at every level. For example, your website should include a range of contact methods such as chatbots to guide them through the site or live chat for more detailed queries. Letting the customer choose how they interact with you
If you operate a contact center, then you should again offer a range of options that can include chatbots and IVR. The whole idea is to have a customer intimacy strategy that gives the customer a range of communication choices.
3. Data and CRM
Your data not only informs business decisions, but it can also help improve relationships with customers. By using CRM (customer relationship management), your staff has instant access to customer data; their previous purchases and interactions with you, any previous issues, and so on. This means that your staff can interact with them armed with intimate knowledge of their history with you.
Your customer intimacy strategy should look beyond basics such as what landing pages a customer viewed and what purchases they made. With good analytics, you can identify patterns such as if they spend more money at certain times of the month or year. It can also help you look at any cart abandonment and you can explore what caused any hesitancy or indecision.
4. Company Culture
There is little use in having a customer intimacy strategy that is not embraced by your organization as a whole. You should make achieving customer intimacy part of your company culture and that means every staff member embracing it. When a customer sees responses to queries being handled by C-suite executives, then they know the company really cares.
While it may be the case that in most scenarios you have specialized teams handling any customer queries or complaints, it can be good to have other people sometimes come on board too. Your customer service and technical support teams may be best placed to answer the vast majority of queries, having management-level staff respond to complaints sometimes demonstrates the value you place in customer relationships.
It can also help to have internal discussions or training that looks at more unusual and rarer scenarios so that they are better equipped to deal with them.
5. Have Great Customer Policies
Customer intimacy strategy is not just about being nice to your customers, it’s about demonstrating that niceness in tangible ways that the customers will appreciate from a financial perspective. People like to save money, and when added to great products and friendly customer service, they will see the difference between you and competitors.
That can mean looking at and changing a wide range of your customer policies. Offer easy and flexible return policies for when items don’t suit. Give them free shipping on items over a certain value that can benefit them as well as boost AOV (average order value). If you make things easier for them when there is an issue, they will be more likely to remain loyal to you.
6. Personalization and Loyalty
If you want to implement a customer intimacy strategy, then you need to recognize that each customer is an individual. So, you want to personalize their experience with you. Whether they are calling your call center, receiving marketing emails, or shopping on your website, you need to personalize their customer experience as much as possible.
Your CRM can play a big role in this, even to the extent of personalizing interaction with chatbots on your site or in your contact center. You also want to recognize loyal customers and offer them rewards as often as you can. This can cover everything from dedicated loyalty programs to unique offers and discounts via email.
With the advent of modern technologies such as video conferencing, events no longer need to be restricted by geographical location. No matter where your customer lives in the world, you can now invite them to special events such as product launches so that they feel they are part of your forward vision.
Your customer intimacy strategy should include a range of events that bring you and your customers closer together. Companies that sell any sort of technical product (or a product that can be complicated to use), can include webinars that show people how to get the best out of their product.
These sorts of events also offer customers the opportunity to ask questions (always include a Q&A session!) and to give feedback live to the hosts.
Having a solid customer intimacy strategy is just one part of your overall approach but it is an important one. Any business is looking at ways to improve performance across the board, from traffic affiliate marketing to better customer retention. Finding how different tactics fit your business model can be a big step towards success.
You should have an almost symbiotic relationship with your customers. They rely on you for good products and services, while you rely on them to buy your products or services and to maintain (and improve) your profit margins. Developing customer intimacy goes a long way toward building solid relationships.