3 Ways to Maintain Customer Relationships for Startups

Despite all the challenges to being new on the market, startups actually have an advantage in terms of creating and maintaining customer relationships. Their youth and innocence make it easy for the locals to like them, and their relatively small network keeps them relatable.

It is, unfortunately, an advantage most startups outgrow as they expand and dip into new territories. Although they grow as a business and gain a larger customer base, many of them tend to lose that extra little spark that made them special, to begin with.

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Here is how you can maintain a strong relationship with your very first fans so that they can make your small business even bigger.

Remember to communicate

Way too many small businesses lose touch with their first customers because they stop communicating. If you’re not talking to them, you’re not listening either — and they won’t be able to tell you what’s missing or what you happen to be doing great.

Your earliest customers are, after all, the ones you have up to 70 % chance of reselling your products to — they know your quality and service, so don’t let it drop. Social media is a great way to keep the channels of communication open, for example.

Let them reach out to your Twitter or Facebook profile if they have a problem, and make sure you have someone there to answer their questions as soon as possible.

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Keep in touch

Even when your customers are no longer experiencing any problems and have no reason to reach out to you, it’s good to keep in touch once in a while. Don’t just sit around and wait for the questions to pour in; if there is none, it might mean that they simply have nothing to say about your company at the moment. We need to give them something to get the conversation started, in other words.

Birthday greetings through email or Tweets, holiday cards, discount offers — the list goes on, so unleash your imagination and figure out the best way to reach out to your existing customers. Have a read around the web as well, by the way, such as this blog post here, and you should be able to get some great ideas on keeping your business’ core in shape.

Focus on customer success

The more you’re able to help your customers solve their problems, the more they’re going to like your business. Make it a part of your company culture to focus on making them better by assembling a small support team through social media, for example. That way, you’ll be able to concentrate on running your business, while your existing customers are taken good care of.

It sends a strong signal of quality and care to them as well, so they’re likely to spread the word if they keep having positive experiences with you.

Growing your company and gaining a larger network doesn’t mean that you have to give up on those who made you so great, to begin with. Focus on quality and customer support, and make sure you stay in touch with them — that way, they won’t really forget about your existence.

Here Are Four Tips to Help Boost Your Product or Service

You might have created an excellent product or service, but that’s not enough if you want to see success. You need to think beyond that and work out what else you need to do to make people want to choose your brand and be happy with the results. There are several essential elements you need to consider before you pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

A Strong Online Presence

Any business today that doesn’t exist online is going to miss out in comparison to other businesses. People use the internet to find what they’re looking for these days, so you need to be there. A quality website should be your first step to establishing your brand online.

Read also: Let’s Get Visible! Your Quick Guide to a Great Online Presence

Clever and Original Marketing

If you want to get your brand noticed, you need to have the right marketing strategies. You need your brand to get people’s attention using smart methods, not by making them annoyed, baffled, or even offended. Select your marketing firm carefully.

A Unique and Recognisable Brand

It can take a lot of work to develop a brand. When you work on your brand, you need to create something your customers can recognise and identify with. If only people who work for you notice when something doesn’t gel with your brand, your branding probably isn’t very strong.

Superb Customer Service

Don’t forget to focus on creating an excellent customer service experience. You should aim to deliver on your promises and even go beyond what your customers expect from you.


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Maximising on the Potential of Your Target Market

Every business has to work hard to reach their target market. First and foremost, in fact, you need to ensure that your company knows who its target market includes. That can be exhausting, can’t it? Offering a wide range of products and services and trying to figure out whether different products and services might reach different corners of the potential market is tough.

You also have to consider whether you can widen the number of consumers to whom your company and brand will appeal. That’s going to the be the topic of this article because there are always ways to maximise the potential of your target market and to reach a wider range of people. Here are just a few ideas that might give you some inspiration to rethink your approach.

Observe your competitors

If you feel that you might not be harnessing the full potential of your target market and there are customers within the realm of your industry that you could also be reaching then it’s time to do a little “research” (essentially, do some more digging). Take a look at your competitors and see what they’re offering.

If they’re reaching people that you can’t reach but still offering a very similar product or service then you need to figure out what their gimmick is. Once you do, you need to find a way to undercut them; offer a better discount or deal if customers come to you instead. Find your gap in the market. Gather as much information as you can. It might seem sneaky… and that’s because it is.

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Marketing

Every type of marketing that matters in the modern age takes place online. Come on; scrap the posters and billboards. They’re relics now. If you want your business to truly maximise the potential of your target market then you need to make sure you’re reaching them in every place possible.

The majority of consumers aren’t browsing for goods on the high street anymore; they’re browsing on the internet. Everything is virtual now and that means your business needs a great online presence if it wants to make an impact on its target market.

The goal is to create a massive marketing campaign for a modest amount of money and the vast majority of online resources available to you offer just that; in fact, most of them are free, so why on earth would any company want to pay for advertising these days? Starting a company blog is a great way of getting information out there and reeling in new customers from your market with content that ranks well on search engines (of course, strong content on your main business website will help with this too).

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Customer service

This is the area in which so many companies with great potential end up falling short of the mark. You need to remain connected with your customers so that you can help them and find out what your business is doing well or not so well. Yes, I know — negative feedback can be hard to hear but do you know what’s worse?

Not hearing what’s wrong with your business and losing customers. The way to get customer service just right is to make it clear that you value every single person who buys or wants to buy from your company. Don’t silence the complaints your business gets —you need to welcome consumer opinions.

This isn’t just about proving that your business cares about hearing what your customers have to say so you can keep them interested in your products or services; it’s about knowing what’s wrong with your company so you can improve your standard of service.

It’s a win-win situation. Customers are happy that they’ve been heard properly and your business will be happier when it starts to deliver an even better service to people. Not all suggestions will be overly negative. Sometimes, you could simply invite customers to offer ideas as to things they think your company could do to provide an even better service.

The best kind of market research you can do to find out what your customers want is to directly ask the customers themselves. That’s a certain way of beating the competition, so don’t be scared to start an open discussion. A strong connection with your client-base is a good thing (they won’t always bite).

Make Your Business More Memorable with These Marketing Tricks

It can be hard enough to create a positive first impression in business, but it’s often even more difficult to market your company in a way that leaves a lasting impression. If you’re working on building relationships after introductory meetings, you’re trying to grow your contacts network, or you’re hoping to expand your business in the coming months, here are some handy hacks to bear in mind.

Follow up leads

If you’ve been to a trade show, you’ve hosted a launch event, or you’ve attended meetings with buyers or potential clients, don’t rest on your laurels. Even if the meeting went well and you have verbal agreements in place, it’s important to follow up leads and make sure positive experiences produce the desired outcome.

It’s no good having a room full of people say that they love a product you’ve designed if you’re not going to get any orders at the end of the day. Note down contact details and send emails and make calls to make deals happen. You have to be proactive in business and once you’ve got interested parties, work to maintain their enthusiasm and ensure they become repeat customers.

Issue a reminder

If you’ve got a client base, that’s great news, but the hard work doesn’t stop here. There’s nothing to stop your valued customers going elsewhere if another firm can offer something better or a lower price. Maintain contact with your clients and issue some reminders.

If you go to trade shows on a regular basis, it’s a really good idea to invest in merchandise that people will use long after the event, such as custom USB sticks. A customer will use the stick, see your logo and potentially think of using your business again. For an online business, use social media and emails to keep in touch.

When a customer hasn’t placed an order in a while, send an email with a special promotion code to encourage them to buy again. It’s also a really good idea to develop an app. An app can act as a constant reminder of your business that sits on a home screen. On average, people check their phones more than 85 times per day, so this can be a very valuable marketing ploy.

Personalise your marketing strategy

Your marketing strategy should be focused on your target market. Your aim should be to ensure that every customer has a positive experience and to impress them so much that they couldn’t possibly overlook you in the future. If you’re blown away by customer service, there’s a good chance that you’d use a company again, but this works both ways.

If you’ve had a dreadful experience, you’re not just going to look elsewhere. You’re also going to tell others to do the same. Ensure you’re providing a service that caters for your clients and go the extra mile to ensure that they remember you for all the right reasons.

If you run a business, you’ll be all too familiar with the importance of creating good first impressions, but don’t underestimate the value of leaving a lasting impression. Use these marketing measures to ensure that your clients don’t forget about you in a hurry.

Social Media’s Positive and Negative Potential for Your Business

We are living in a social media generation. Think about it. How many of your friends and family members have social media pages? Probably the majority, right? We are spending increasing amounts of time checking our Facebook feeds, looking at others’ lives on Instagram and laughing at one another’s jokes on Twitter. This is all productive. However, social media is no longer confined to the realms of the personal. An increasing number of businesses are creating feeds for their brand. But should you jump on the social media bandwagon?

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Remember, social media is relatively personal but you want to maintain as professional an image as possible to maintain the reputation of your brand. Apps and sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter could potentially prove to be your business’ making or its downfall. The way that things fall lies entirely down to your social media management. Here’s everything that you need to understand the positive and negative potential of these pages for your business’ success.

Customer Service

In a consumer market where more and more business is done online, social media is one of the areas that allow your brand to offer brilliant customer service.

Remember, good customer service relies on effective communication and what better way to communicate with your audience than the immediate form of online chat?

Facebook offers message options, where customers can ask further questions about a product, chase up deliveries and file their complaints.

Twitter also allows this in short form text, with a maximum of 140 characters.

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Improving Brand Image

Nowadays, popularity is often measured by the number of social media followers an individual or a business has. If you manage to garner more followers, people will tend to automatically recognise you as a leader in your field. If everyone else wants to know what you’re doing then they’ll assume that they should too.

Your feeds are also a great place to express your company’s values and beliefs. You can publicly show support to charitable organisations or causes. However, at the same time, posting the wrong thing at the wrong time can cause mayhem. Certain types of posts will reflect badly on your brand and will be widely available for anyone to see.

To avoid causing upset, make sure that you have good social media management. Check out this website for further guidance.

Showcasing Your Products

A large follower base results in any social media account becoming a platform where you can showcase your products and services to a huge number of people.

It’s the ultimate platform for exposure. People will like your posts too, which means that they will become recommended to others with similar interests to them, encouraging more people to check out what you’re providing. What’s more? You can sponsor posts, infiltrating the newsfeeds of people who don’t already follow your brand.

In short, social media holds great potential for your brand’s exposure and expansion. Everything comes down to managing it responsibly and appropriately. So, start setting up your pages and capitalising on the pros that come hand in hand with well-managed business social media feeds.

Making Customers The Priority Is Difficult, But Worthwhile

Your customers should be at the center of everything you do. If they are not, this can soon lead to some serious downfalls within your business. Most business owners are aware of the importance of putting customers first, but relatively few really know how to properly ensure that they do it. Fortunately, there are some basic ways to make sure that your customers are always the priority in your business. In this post, we are going to look at some of the essential things to bear in mind if you want your customers to be at the heart of your processes.

Strong Service

No matter what else you try to achieve in business, providing a strong customer service has to be the baseline. This is the starting point and the end point, and it is the clearest way of showing your customers how important they are to the entire procedure of doing business. Most of all, you should be careful to work on developing customer service skills which people are likely to appreciate. This means training up your customer services staff as well as possible. As long as that is done, your customers will feel a lot more as though they are in the right hands.

Take Their Needs On Board

In everything that you do, you need your customers to know that they are of central importance to it. But it is not enough to just tell them that this is the case. Instead of saying it, you need to show it – this is likely to be much more effective. As long as you are genuinely taking their needs on board, this will shine through eventually. You can really do this in everything that you do, not least in the way that you design your online services and website. Using a process like user centered design, you ensure that you are keeping their needs at the very heart of what you are doing – the whole step of the way. This will then result in them feeling much more taken care of – and that is essentially what you are going for here.

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Image Credit: Pexels
Make The Changes They Want To See

If we are honest, this process must at least partly be about making the changes they want to see, even if it is mostly for show. There needs to be a little give-and-take, otherwise your business is unlikely to get very far in terms of its customer relations. Above all, make sure that every change you make is the kind of thing that your customers would want to see in your business. If it isn’t, consider taking another route instead.

Ask and Deliver

What a lot of this boils down to is this: ask your customers what they want, and then make sure that you deliver. This can be achieved probably much more easily than you think. You just need to make sure that you are keeping an open ear on your customers, and reacting when they want you to.

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Never Make Your Customers Wait For Customer Service!

Are you hitting the nail on the head with your customer service? No one should have to wait. When you keep people on hold or take too long to respond to an email, you may lose a customer forever. That’s why you need to look at every channel you have for customer support and cut down the wait time.

This infographic shows that 30.2% of customers are only willing to wait up to five minutes. However, almost 60% of people will be unsatisfied with any more than one minute! Some customer support methods may be slower than others. But you should ensure no one has to wait for over a minute. Here’s what your business needs to improve now.

Telephone Lines

Although technology is moving forward with the internet, phones are still helpful. Many customers- especially older ones- prefer using the phone to get an instant and personal response. You need to keep a landline in the office and make sure you always have staff on hand to answer queries.

Don’t just rely on a smartphone. Business phone systems are much more reliable for delivering fast and efficient customer support. You can even use VoIP systems with your phones to offer free and instant customer service.

Don’t make the mistake of outsourcing your phone support. When customers call your business for help, they want to talk to someone from your company. Nothing is more frustrating for customers than getting a response from someone reading from a script. Instead, have support staff ready to deal with any complaint or question.

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Online Support

Make use of your company website to offer multiple channels of support. For a start, you should list your telephone, address, and email so every customer knows how to contact you. You can also integrate web-based customer support features.

One popular method is to include an email form. But if you do this, you have to be fast. Leading companies in customer support take less than an hour to respond to emails. Now imagine a customer has an urgent question about buying a product and doesn’t get a response for an hour. It’s enough to make them take their business elsewhere.

You need to give immediate responses, and the best way to do so is with online help desk software. Your customers can ask questions at the click of a button, and your support staff can answer rapidly. Also, include an in-depth FAQ on your website. It can help many customers who have common questions about your company.

Social Media

Social media is becoming the new norm in customer support, so don’t leave your business stuck in the stone age. People follow their favorite companies on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other networks. They also ask questions and give feedback here, so be ready to respond.

You can use your smartphone to get instant notifications of a message on social networks. That way you can give a response before they become disgruntled.

Delivering outstanding support on social media is important. It will be seen by your followers, the customer’s followers, and potentially all over the web. Take this example from Delta Hotels. When a hotel guest complained about their room’s view, Delta fixed the problem within an hour. The story went viral, and Delta Hotels gained a customer for life. Use this as inspiration for your social media support!