THE BLOG
04/14/2016 12:49 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

5 Proven Ways to Build Customer Relationships That Stay Profitable

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So you've learned what it takes to get a prospect to become a paying client.

Great job!

So now you're done, right?

WRONG.

Sorry to burst your bubble my dear friend, but you're not done yet!

Yes, converting prospects into customers is great, but there's still more to do. If you're going to be an awesome "salestrepreneur," you must be in it for the long haul.

As you already know, customers are the backbone of your business. In one way or another, they determine the profitability (or not) of your endeavors. That's why you can't afford to neglect your customer relationships.

As Patricia Fripp says:

"You don't close a sale, you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise."

The focus is not just to gain one-time customers; rather it is to create a relationship with them that goes beyond the immediate business need. You have to lay the foundation for the future.

In our last post, we discussed the art of the pitch -- presenting the benefits your offering provides for your customers. But this post will discuss what comes after: the building of the relationship.

This post will give you five ways to gain a better relationship with your clients. If you implement these proven tips, you won't have to worry about losing your newfound clients to your competition. You will cement the bond between you and each of your prospects.

It's gonna be awesome!

 

Exceed Customers' Expectations

 

Want to make your customers loyal? Blow their minds.

If you want to ensure the loyalty of your new customer, you need to "wow" them. You need to provide a surprisingly great level of service.

Chances are, your customers already had a certain level of expectation when they decide to buy from you. Meeting these expectations is an impressive feat, but exceeding them will (among other things) give the impression that you are committed to the satisfaction of your customers. It shows that you will go out of your way to satisfy them.

This is what your customer wants, even if they don't know it yet.

Doing this not only help you retain them - it will even motivate them to invite their friends and family. It's a great way to create evangelists for your brand. This is immensely important.

So how do you blow your customer's minds? Set your customer's expectations lower than the level of service you intend to provide. Here's an example. Give a four-day delivery deadline for a job you can conclude in three days or less.

This has two benefits: it will lessen the pressure on you to meet the deadline in case something comes up. It makes it easier to finish the work ahead of time, which will give your customer a pleasant surprise.

Want an example? Of course you do. Check out Zappos.

The amazing customer experience Zappos provides compels their customers to share this experience with others. It is not unusual for them to give free upgrades to overnight shipping to surprise customers, even though two to five business days is the standard delivery period stated on their website.

Zappos' employees are encouraged to go beyond the limits of their jobs in assisting customers. As a matter of fact, one of their reps spent 10 hours and 29 minutes on the phone with one customer! Zappos owes a lot of its success to the customer experience they provide.

It works for them. It will work for you.

 

Identify Other Sales Opportunities

 

Don't stop selling once you have won the customer's business. Your customers will always have business needs that you can help them with even though they may not know it yet.

Your job is to identify these needs and present additional solutions. Doing this will not only earn you points for providing solutions to their needs, they will also appreciate your foresight. It will reinforce their trust in your brand.

This can only be done if you are committed to building a relationship with your new client. Don't stop your sales process after you win the sale. Start it over again so you can find other areas of opportunity. You and your customer will benefit from this.

 

If There's A Problem, Solve It Quickly

 

When it comes to addressing an issue, speed is everything.

While everyone hopes that everything goes smoothly, it doesn't always pan out. Just like no battle plan survives contact with the enemy, no sales plan survives contact with the customer.

Problems are inevitable, but they aren't the end of the world.

If you make a mistake and it causes a problem that inconveniences your customer, you need to rectify the problem as quickly as possible even if it costs. Customers are more understanding than you think and all they need is to know that you are working on fixing the problem.

If there is a mistake when you're fulfilling an order or providing your service, your customer will be quick to forgive you if you fix the issue quickly. If a customer complains, take as much responsibility as possible and assure them that you will deal with the problem immediately.

It's not always easy, but you must take responsibility, and fix the problem as soon as you possibly can. You will allay their fears and strengthen their trust in you.

 

Continue To Act As A Consultant

 

In order to maintain the loyalty of your new client, you have to continue to provide value. This is done by using your expertise to make it easier for your customer to eliminate their problems.

Customers see you as an authority in your chosen field and you need to live up to this expectation. This can be done by providing them with advice (without any benefit in it for you) that helps them solve problems and make their lives easier.

The more value you provide, the less likely it is that your customer will go to your competition. The more your clients trust you, the more faith they will have in your products or services.

 

Ask For Referrals

 

One of the most effective ways to gain new clientele is to harvest referrals. This is the reason for Zappos' success. It's why they do not have to spend tons of money on ads.

While Zappos may not directly ask for referrals, they provide the type of service that makes their customers want to refer others.

If you have provided excellent service and given enough value, your customer won't have a problem referring you to someone else who may need your offering. They will usually do this voluntarily, but it never hurts to ask.

Don't be afraid to ask for referrals. You could be missing out on opportunities if you do not ask.

 

Conclusion

 

75% of Zappos customers are repeat buyers. That says something.

It says that they are doing something that makes their customers come back. Word of mouth has brought them great success because they have successfully built profitable relationships with their customer base.

If your business is going to achieve its goals, then you need to focus more on your customers - by applying the five tips above. Gaining customers is the easy part; keeping them means being committed to adding value. As long as you do that, you are on your way to achieving your own growth goals.

Originally published on Artisan Owl Media.