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.

Is the Customer Always Right?

Customers are essential for any business or freelancer. Without customers handing over their hard-earned cash, you have no income yourself. What convinces you to part with your money? Is it an attractive, desirable product with a trendy brand badge? Is it the sales pitch and the customer service? Or are you frugal enough to buy only what is essential at the lowest price you can buy it? Are you right?

Every customer is different. You might have all the metrics and analytics in the world churning out a detailed customer persona. But each sale you make comes from a unique individual. The way they do things is the way that is right for them. That means they undoubtedly come with expectations based on what they already know about your brand.

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If you position your brand as the budget line then expectations about customer service and product quality may not be high. But if you’re the innovative, trendy brand, then each customer, regardless of the cost paid or budget, will expect much greater things.

Customer psychology and sales journeys are topics for another post. However, you must consider these things if you are to meet the expectations of the customer. You need to deliver what they believe to be right.

Read also: 5 Ways to Successfully Work with the Client Who’s Always Right

Customers do, undoubtedly, get it wrong. They can fall foul of assumption making. Reading reviews from other customers, including the fake or uninformed ones, will set expectations.

With so much misinformation out there, it is essential you cut through the noise and clearly define what the customer should expect. Use your product pages and your website. Brand perception and brand consistency are essential in your promotions too. Most importantly, they must be maintained during complaints.

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Negative feedback is far more common in a public arena than positive. Complaints can often start on Facebook or even Twitter. Regaining control of the conversation without appearing to censor a disgruntled customer is key.

Usually, businesses hire specialist agents to manage their social media. Some handle it in-house. Have a look at how the Peninsula business complaints procedure page on LinkedIn details the positives as well as the negatives. Peninsula offers the customer the freedom of options and welcomes the feedback. Trying to silence a customer is not the best approach.

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Start by inviting the customer to follow a procedure that helps their complaints be tackled quickly and easily. This should be a private conversation. Make sure your agent is offering help immediately to solve any problems. Most users of social media quickly recognise a person having a heated rant and will, for the most part, ignore it. But they will be interested to see how the business handles it.

Try to stay personable rather than official and corporate. If your company policy is, “the customer is always right” then agree with them that things should have happened in a better way.

Once your customer is ready to engage, rather than shout abuse or negative comments, work together to solve the customer’s problem. Assure them that these problems should not have happened and that your business has a procedure to make sure it can’t happen to anyone else. Move the conversation to a private forum like email or messenger. Finally, assess the response and the effectiveness of your agent. Was the customer right?