As a busi­ness, you are con­stant­ly man­ag­ing your sales funnel–from the first point of con­tact with a prospect to their pur­chase of your ser­vice.  But it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) stop there. Per­haps the most impor­tant part of your sales fun­nel is the fol­low-up post-sale. It’s in this time of fol­low-up that you build the ongo­ing rela­tion­ship that will lead to cus­tomer loy­al­ty and, hope­ful­ly, cus­tomer refer­rals. Rela­tion­ship mar­ket­ing is the key to cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and long-term com­pa­ny success.

Rela­tion­ship Mar­ket­ing and the Bot­tom Line

It makes sens­es that before we dive into strate­gies for rela­tion­ship mar­ket­ing, you under­stand WHY it’s impor­tant.  Gain­ing a new cus­tomer in a crowd­ed mar­ket is hard. Accord­ing to Invesp, “The prob­a­bil­i­ty of sell­ing to an exist­ing cus­tomer is 60–70%, while the prob­a­bil­i­ty of sell­ing to a new prospect is 5–20%.” Did you know how expen­sive it is to get that new sale? It’s 5–25 times more expen­sive to gain a new cus­tomer than to retain an exist­ing one. WOW! And while you are focus­ing on gain­ing that new client, you are like­ly not spend­ing the same amount of time nur­tur­ing the rela­tion­ships you have with your cur­rent ones. That lack of atten­tion can affect your bot­tom line. By just increas­ing cus­tomer reten­tion rates by 5%, you can increase prof­its by 25–95%!  Rela­tion­ship build­ing and rela­tion­ship mar­ket­ing must demand your atten­tion or you’ll see low­er prof­its because of the high­er cost of acquir­ing that hard-to-obtain new customer.

Rela­tion­ship Mar­ket­ing Strategies

Cul­ti­vat­ing your cur­rent rela­tion­ships can ensure cus­tomer loy­al­ty in the long-term. Here are some effec­tive rela­tion­ship mar­ket­ing strate­gies to build strong, last­ing con­nec­tions with your sat­is­fied clients.

  1. Spend the time and mon­ey on build­ing an excel­lent cus­tomer ser­vice depart­ment. When your client has a ser­vice issue, they do not want to get in an end­less loop of being passed off to the next com­put­er­ized voice, super­vi­sor, or depart­ment and end the call with their prob­lem unre­solved. Instead, you want to make sure that they feel heard, under­stood, and have had their prob­lem resolved at the first touch-point. One bad cus­tomer ser­vice inter­ac­tion can result in the loss of a repeat sale. One good cus­tomer ser­vice inter­ac­tion can result in a great review and referral.
  1. Cre­ate a cus­tomer loy­al­ty and/or refer­ral rewards program.
    Loy­al­ty pro­grams aren’t restrict­ed to a prod­uct punch card sys­tem. You can cre­ate a loy­al­ty pro­gram that rewards cur­rent cus­tomers with a dis­count on a new ser­vice or a reduced ser­vice fee for a cur­rent offer­ing. The same goes for refer­ral rewards. Encour­age refer­rals from your clients and give gift cards or send a thank you gift when they respond. Lack of cus­tomer loy­al­ty affects your bot­tom line. CallMiner’s Churn Index 2020 states, “US com­pa­nies lose $136.8 bil­lion per year due to avoid­able con­sumer switch­ing.”  It’s worth the time to build into these rela­tion­ships so that they result in long-term cus­tomers who don’t even think about leav­ing you.
  1. Ask for feed­back and ask for it regularly.
    Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is a two-way street. You can spend count­less hours send­ing emails and post­ing to social media accounts about all the things your com­pa­ny does, but if you nev­er ask your clients what they think about you, you’ll stay stag­nant and nev­er grow to be bet­ter. Open up the lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion in your client rela­tion­ships. Don’t be afraid to hear where you are lacking—it’s a chance to fix a prob­lem and make a cus­tomer feel heard. When you get pos­i­tive feed­back, pub­lish it. It’s one thing to hear about why a com­pa­ny thinks they are the best, it’s anoth­er thing to hear why their client thinks they are.

Rela­tion­ship mar­ket­ing is instru­men­tal in cre­at­ing a grow­ing, thriv­ing busi­ness. It builds cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, reten­tion, and elic­its ideas for improve­ment while also pro­duc­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for you to shout the prais­es from long-term cus­tomers. Take the time to cul­ti­vate these rela­tion­ships and you’ll see your busi­ness is bet­ter for it.