A business would be nowhere without its customers, and that’s why keeping them onside should always be your priority. One of the best ways of doing this is building a connection on a personal level with your customer base – this can have a major pay-off if done in the right way.

For example, the Harvard Business Review cited a major bank, which introduced a new credit card that was designed to inspire an emotional connection with Millennials. As a result, they saw a 70 percent increase in use among the target audience, and new account take-up grew by 40 percent. This example shows just how powerful an effect establishing a real connection can have on your business.

With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at four ways that you can begin to build a connection with your customer base for a brighter future.

Understand who your customers are

One of the first things you should set out to do is gain a full understanding of precisely who your customers are. Compiling demographics and establishing behaviour patterns will give you a greater insight into what your audience really wants, how you should engage with them, and what kind of sales approach you should be developing.

Undertake some market research to discover key facts about your customers. Look to gain an insight into things like income, hobbies and interests, shopping habits, age, location, sex, and occupation, which will allow you to build up a picture of your typical customer.

At Joseph Turner, we have used demographic insights from our data partners to understand that our customers typically tend to be 50-plus affluent men whose priorities revolve around quality, consistency, and service.  As such, these are the areas we focus on and seek to address in the marketing material and communications we send out.

The Whole Brain Blog has a five-step guide to establishing a profile that is simple to follow and should yield some good results. You can then use this data to inform how you should engage with your customer base and build a more personal connection.

Keep your customer service in-house

Another great way of building a more personal connection is to keep your customer service near to the heart of everything your business does. By keeping it in-house and not outsourcing it to another firm, you can maintain complete control over its quality, as well as ensuring your clients are in contact with staff that have great product or service knowledge.

Here at Joseph Turner, our customer service team is based in the same office as marketing, buying, and design. They have regular interactions with these departments, which means they are very knowledgeable about the products we sell, and are confident in giving advice and offering alternative suggestions if a product is out of stock.

They provide all other departments with incredibly useful customer-led feedback, and we always involve them in decisions about the catalogue and the website, since they have the most direct experience with our customers who use it. They have far more invested in our brand than if we outsourced, so they are always determined to provide our customers with a personal level of service.

Engage through social media

Because it was primarily designed to connect people with one another, social media is one of the best ways that you can directly engage with your customer base. According to a survey by marketing blog Ambassador, 71 percent of users who have a good customer service experience through social media will recommend a retailer to someone else, while 48 percent of people who ask for assistance but don’t receive it will leave a site and not return.

Both of these findings go a long way towards demonstrating the power these platforms have and why you should look to engage with your customers through them.

People like to give feedback and comment on your service online, so be sure to encourage this and appoint a member of your team responsibility to actively respond to the customers who interact with your brand online. Make sure that any potentially damaging complaints or feedback are dealt with quickly and effectively, as this will not only keep your customers happy, but it will help to build a positive brand image.

You can keep an eye on reviews of your brand through tools like Google Analytics, while social media networks themselves have their own analysis options that you can use to monitor page activity and see what is doing well and what isn’t.

Reward loyalty

A major advantage of building a personal connection with your customers is that they are more likely to show brand loyalty and provide you with repeat custom. By establishing a programme of rewards for this section of your customer base, you can incentivise returning to your company to do business while creating a hugely positive impression on your clients.

There are a number of ways that you can adapt this idea for your own business.  At Joseph Turner, we created a VIP program whereby engaged customers receive regular communication offering them exclusive discounts not available to anyone else.  We ensure that our VIP members are the first to hear about new collections and any sales or clearance events we are running.

You should also look to keep your customers informed about new and exciting loyalty offers in your online and offline marketing to ensure that they are up to date and more likely to take advantage of the deals you are offering.

Take these four pieces of advice on board and you’re sure to establish a personal connection with your customers. You will then begin to see the many benefits this can have for your business.

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