When it comes to building customer relationships, where has customer intimacy gone?
Over the past few years, companies have been focused on (dare we say obsessed with) their tech stacks. The language around building customer relationships sounds like it was generated by a bot: ABM, lead flow, funnel, gated content, etc.
But people still want to do business with – and buy from – real flesh-and-blood human beings. B2B decision makers are more diverse than ever and are overwhelmed by the number of options made available to them. We are inundated daily by cold mass emails, automated LinkedIn messages, and calls from SDRs and bots.
Tech and Touch Converge at Last
Thankfully, customer intimacy is still alive and well and we predict that smart marketers will realize that relationship selling – knowing the needs and preferences of that person who is signing a contract – is a timeless concept which can be augmented by (and not replaced by) automation. Intimacy at scale is not only possible; it’s essential.
Investing in the customer experience can generate as much as $1 billion in incremental revenue for SaaS companies.
Building Customer Relationships in 2020
Heading into the new year, here are five ways you can make sure that your brand is in the hearts and minds of decision makers in 2020:
1. Develop a clear and specific sense of who you want your customers and prospects to be in 2020.
That goes a long way beyond creating spreadsheets and databases. Consider investing in persona research, online focus groups, or customer satisfaction surveys to understand at a deep and broad level the relationships you want to build.
2. Utilize conversational intelligence to make your sales more human and welcome.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, technology that monitors and analyzes phone conversations can be invaluable in helping you understand what words and talk points resonate with prospects and customers.
3. Ensure every customer feels like a valued member of an exclusive group.
A truly customer-centric company will ensure that a hand-off from a salesperson to a customer service professional is seamless and smooth. The process of building loyalty and retention begins as soon as someone says “yes” to your product or service. Just as keeping a marriage alive and healthy involves attention and active listening.
Involve your executive team in customer outreach as well. Although your CEO doesn’t necessarily need to give out his cell phone number, giving valued customers access to senior management indicates that you really care about their needs and opinions.
4. Treat events as an important opportunity to connect.
Face-to-face meetings, conferences, and trade shows are alive and well. In fact, at least 250 million people are expected to attend them next year. Use event apps before, during, and after conferences to research who will be there and allow sufficient planning time to set up meetings and after-hours gatherings.
5. Remember that “thank you” and “congratulations” are timeless keywords.
Gifting, whether it involves a simple acknowledgement of the time spent on a product demo or a grand gesture for a promotion, will never go out of style. Technology has made the process of expressing gratitude simpler than ever. Involve your sales team in selecting the right array of items that will break through the noise. Utilize social media and conversations with your customers to get to know what they value, and build gifting programs that “fit” both your customer personalities and your company’s own brand.
Buyers are willing to pay as much as 86% more for a great customer experience. That experience can only be delivered by companies who know, nurture, and value their clients and prospects.
So, as you’re building out your tech stack for 2020, be sure that building customer relationships is top of mind. Although technology can enable you to understand opportunities, research data about target groups and companies, and streamline your operations, people ultimately buy from people…not from bots!
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Nancy A Shenker is a marketing consultant, writer, speaker, and Sendoso brand ambassador. Prior to launching her own company, theONswitch in 2003, she worked as a senior executive for major brands, where she often gave (and sometimes, unfortunately, rejected) gifts.