How to Build Stronger Customer Relationships Today

How to Build Stronger Customer Relationships. Oklahoma City Business Incubator Program

A key goal of customer experience is to inspire and maintain lasting customer relationships.

Everyone involved in your business plays a role in the overall customer experience. As a business owner, it’s important to care about designing a consistent, positive, and valuable experience for your customers and community.

Your customers want to feel expected, respected, and protected in your business. That can mean several things, and it’s up to you to determine what that looks like in your organization.

It’s important that businesses navigate their customer’s journey with intentional care and focus. This starts with getting to know them before you actually get to know them. Then intentionally support them along the way, through offering high-value products, providing meaningful service, and building lasting relationships.

Customer research

It’s important to know who your customers really are if you want to treat them well and keep them around for the long haul.

Customer research gives more detailed information about the needs, wants, expectations, biases, and behaviors of your target market. By clarifying this information, businesses can speak to their audience in a way that more deeply relates and makes the largest impact.

How You Can Get to Know Your Customers Better

  • Conduct Surveys
  • Welcome Feedback & Suggestions
  • Avoid Making Assumptions or Generalizations
  • Engage On Social Media
  • Hold Community Events
  • Get Good With Data ( Audience Insights)
  • Be Curious & Ask Questions
  • Listen and Observe More Than You Speak and Persuade

Customer Support

At the end of the day, great customer support creates a great customer experience. Plus, the deeper the research you do, the better you will be able to support and provide value to your customers.

Customer support is just a proactive way to address your customer’s problems. Anticipating potential trouble ahead of time creates smooth interactions for your customers and employees too.

Through the development of this support layer, you can have a deeper impact on your customers, employees, and bottom line. Making the whole process much more predictable and enjoyable for your employees and customers; which we all want.

Tip: Find creative ways to support your customers across all channels of life. (in person, on social media, in conversation, in their community, in their futures, etc.)

Customer Service

Quality customer service is built on strong systems and principles. It emphasizes things like caring, showing up, consistency, and building community.

Customer service can be practiced in simple ways like just being prepared and organized. Or more commonly through the ways in which we communicate and interact with our customers. Like how quick we are to respond to a customer request or how transparent and thorough we are in communicating something.

Customer service is one of the most challenging parts of being in business; because we are humans, and humans can be difficult at times.

So because of this, we have to find a natural source of our customer service skills, and It starts with mindset.

6 Mindset Shifts For More Natural Customer Service

  1. You can afford to be generous. All great service comes from a feeling of generosity and abundance.
  2. The customer is more important than the company. Make this value choice up-front, and decide that your customer’s happiness is the top priority.
  3. Customer service is a profit center. Customer service is not an expense to be lessened. It’s a core profit center, like sales.
  4. Every interaction is a moment to shine. Take a few inefficient moments to get to know someone, make the time.
  5. Lose every fight like a champ. They win. You lose. Yet, you are prepared to do whatever it takes to make them happy again.
  6. Rebelliously right the wrongs of the world. Don’t follow norms. Your business is your little chunk of the world where you can right all of the wrongs, and gracefully show them how it’s done.

Learn more here: Derek Sivers: The Philosophy of Great Customer Service

Customer Retention

Initially, I think that retention is about keeping your customers happy, satisfied, considered, and appreciated.

Strong customer relationships start with trust and transparency. Customers want to be able to trust you. If they trust you, they will probably come back more often and for a longer stretch of time.

According to Harvard Business Review, it costs 5x-25x more to serve new customers than a returning customer. So with even a small retention effort, you could increase profits significantly.

Customer retention benefits your customers and your bottom line. Plus it also boosts employee morale to have loyal and evolving customer relationships.

Ultimately, customer relationships take time to build, and they are really built and grown along every step of the journey.

Each of these stages has its own unique objectives and benefits. Though, when used together with intention, your business can interact with your community in a more meaningful and sustainable way.

Build a Business that Works for You

Do you work for your business or does your business work for you? 

I think all business owners and entrepreneurs could benefit from answering this question.

If life were to catch you off guard, or perhaps if you wanted to take a couple days or months away from the business would it continue to thrive? Would it just survive? Or would it shrivel up and die?

Life is unpredictable, and we probably started a business to create freedom and flexibility in our lives. So this is another reason why systems are so important: documented & duplicatable systems keep you from becoming a slave to your business, so you can have the success and freedom that you work so hard for.

1. Remember Why Your Started

We want our businesses to provide maximum value and impact, in a consistent and seamless way and we can accomplish this by building businesses that are independent and intentional.

Why did you start your business?

Many people would say they wanted to create a better life. A life with more time, more money, more flexibility, more freedom, and more fun. 

Yet, many business owners find themselves working tirelessly, and often end up with the complete opposite. Don’t feel bad if this is you, because at one point or another all entrepreneurs get lost like this, so they are pushed to figure it out if they want to succeed and evolve.

It’s crucial to regularly come back to the center and remember why you started. It’s important as well to regularly evaluate the purpose your business was supposed to serve in your own life.

Remember that your business is there to serve a purpose for your life too, not just everyone in and around your life.

2. Create a Business that Doesn’t Depend on You

The key to growing your business is structuring it in a way that it won’t depend on you.

You want a business that works to serve your life, delight your customers, and engage your team. The goal is a business that can be independent and grow in alignment with your vision and values with or without your supervision.

Developing systems that clearly describe how your business will look, act, feel and perform can help you accomplish this. Think of this like your business blueprint.

Having clear guidance ensures that in the event that you are not active in the day to day operations of your business, your team will confidently know what to do thanks to clear intentionally prepared systems.

3. Get Systematized

Once you are clear on why you started and what your business’s purpose is, then you can start focusing on developing the systems to support & maintain that.

Systemization is about freeing up your business from being dependent on any one person. This makes sure that your customers’ experience doesn’t change as your business may grow, expand, and evolve.

Business Systems & Business Processes: What’s the difference?

A Business System is like an overarching or core element that you are looking to implement in your business consistently. A system helps your business run like a well oiled machine.

Business Processes are the building blocks that make a business system effective. The processes are all of the things you do in order for the given system to work.

Business Processes can also be known as standard operating procedures or SOP’s, and are commonly used like checklists. Essentially any process can be given to an employee and completed without training. Processes are known to consistently improve customer service & customer experience.

The system is the goal, and the processes are what make the system effective, so all must make sense & work together.

Why Systems are Essential

Systems are essential for expanding your organization, improving business functions, adding new people and products, growing your revenue, improving profit margins, escaping your business temporarily, and even your final exit of the business someday.

Systems are often up for debate among many small businesses leaders because some find developing these systems to be redundant, time consuming, and boring. Especially, when there is a seemingly endless list of other tasks to do first.

Many small business owners are stuck in a difficult position. A position in which many don’t have the time to work on their business because they are too busy working in it.

They also can rarely take time away because they haven’t been able to develop the systems and processes needed to run smoothly on auto-pilot. So not all business owners are able to navigate their way out and some become stuck-shackled to their business.

Which leads me to the conclusion that there is a false lack of urgency around business systems, which makes sense but it can be costly.

How Systems & Processes Can Save Your Business

  1. Can save you valuable time
  2. Can save you on labor costs
  3. Can prevent errors & inconsistency
  4. Can bridge communication gaps
  5. Can provide you leverage & scalability
  6. Can make your business a more valuable asset in the future
  7. Can increase consistency, efficiency, and effectiveness
  8. Can build your authority & credibility

There are plenty of benefits that strong systems can provide, like enhancing employee buy in, and building a community of supportive followers that trust you.

Even though systems are overwhelming and time consuming, they can be the key to unlocking the full potential of your organization.

What Business Systems are Most Important?

Technically, anything in a business can be systematized but there are really four foundational types of systems to implement regardless of industry, or the current size of your business. These are always a good place to start.

  1. Marketing System- You use this to generate a consistent flow of leads into your business. Nearly half of small business owners run marketing entirely on their own and most of these do so without a plan. Without a plan, your results will be completely random and uncontrollable. Marketing is a journey that you need to guide your prospect through in order to reach your desired goal. So creating a marketing plan and systematizing that will ensure that your efforts are the most effective.
  2. Sales System- Used to nurture leads, follow up with them, and hopefully convert them into paying customers. Here you will want to build on their interest in your offer, and really push the benefits of taking your relationship to the next stage. Your ultimate goal in this phase is to build relationship and establish trust.
  3. Fulfillment System- This system focuses on the reason you want to turn your customers into lifelong supporters, fans, and friends. You want to increase the chances they will buy from you again, and refer new business to you more regularly. Here you’ll want to think about how you plan to deliver a memorable experience, and how to foster an environment that keeps your customers coming back for more.
  4. Operational/Administrative Systems: these systems are regularly procrastinated or pushed to the end of the list. This is mainly because these are less exciting and more tedious systems to develop. Once you develop the systems for everything behind the scenes, then your business will change entirely. These activities take place on the back end of your business and include things like planning, goal setting, project management, communications, scheduling, maintenance, book-keeping, taxes, payroll, etc.

How to Easily Make Sense of a New System

These 4 simple elements can help you breakdown any essential task into a duplicatable system with less confusion & overwhelm.

  1. Process: Step by Step Actions
  2. Tools: Required devices, apps, software, etc. needed to complete objective
  3. People: The Person or People involved in each step of the process
  4. Strategies: The tactics, tips, or techniques you use

Example: Publishing This Blog Post

  1. Process: Research, Title, Outline, Write Draft, Revise, Create Graphic, Schedule, etc.
  2. Tools: Google, Google Docs, Word Press, Canva, etc.
  3. People: Me & One other person, etc.
  4. Strategies: SEO, List Building, Copywriting, Creative Writing, Graphic Design, etc.

Scaling a business is all about creating duplicatable systems that anyone in your organization can understand, implement, and improve upon with time. Once you are able to step back so that you can create the systems that your business needs to thrive, you will certainly reap the rewards of a business that works for you.

Inspiration for this blog comes from the highly valuable book: The E-Myth Revisited.

To learn more in-depth about topics like this every month join our community, attend a Boss Board, apply for the incubator program, or reach out with any questions!

Compliance: Laws, and Safety and Codes, OH MY

As a corporation in the United States within the State of Oklahoma we are required to abide by federal laws and state laws, and we have no problem doing this. Its part of being good members of our community.  There are many departments and agencies that we report to and who check in on us. We just want to make you aware of a few that guide your working relationship with your employees.

Department of Labor (DOL): Administers and enforces more than 180 federal laws that foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

Here’s some of the agency and laws:

Equal Employment Opportunity

Fair Labor Standards Act

Family Medical Leave Act

Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Policy

Occupational Safety & Health Administration

Americans With Disabilities Act:

To Sell Is Human

Sales has been our focus for August.

Daniel Pink’s book called “To Sell Is Human” challenges the old stereotypes of the sales person to declare we are all in sales; “Non-sales selling — persuading, convincing and influencing others to give up something they’ve got in exchange for what we’ve got”. And goes on to share his research from the frontiers of social science to reveal the new definition for the ABC’s of selling.

Let’s all read this book this month. There will be a test.

PS. Chapter 8 Improvise — “learn why understanding the rules of improvisational theater can deepen your persuasive powers”. Watch out for BOSS PERFORM during our 5th Thursday party this month. We will play some Improvisational games and work on our confidence and persuasive powers 🙂

Easy, Breezy, Beautiful

Our theme for August here at Project 3810 is Sales. What is sales? What does it mean? What does it look like? Why do I need a sales strategy? How is sales different from a brand strategy or marketing strategy? Are you in sales denial?

Love it! So many questions!

First off, for those true sales folks out there. I am not a sales person. (sales denial)

Sales as an archetype gets a bad wrap. The reality is you deal with sales people every day and you sale you product or service with every person you come in contact with. Because it is an integral part of business success and because you are selling every time you or one of your employees opens their mouth, answers the phones, responds to emails, posts on social media, its very important to build a strategy around this daily activity.

Its the first of the month, so this post ins’t about answering all the questions. Its about starting the conversation.