Customers are the lifeblood of a business, so building a strong rapport with them is imperative to the success of almost any company. Through good times and bad, a solid relationship with your customer base will help ensure that your business continues to flourish. That’s why many of today’s most successful companies are being built around outstanding customer service. Developing strong relationships can take time and dedication, so employing the right customer relations strategies is critical. Here are five steps toward establishing better customer relations for your business.

Make every customer interaction count

While you may have spent time and money establishing a credible reputation, your relationship with a customer is only as good as your last interaction. Just one negative experience may be all it takes to alienate a client and send them running for a competitor. Always be courteous and try to give each interaction a personal touch. Sending a thank you e-mail after a completed deal or transaction will leave the customer with a positive impression of your company.

Establish connections

Establishing connections with your customers is an important step towards improving customer relations. Providing information on products, events and deals via email, social media or websites will help keep customers connected to your business, but it’s important not to be invasive. Your business website should be user friendly, easy to navigate and contain all the relevant information customers need.

Listen to your customer

People respond well when they feel someone has a sincere interest in them. This is as true for business interactions as it is for personal ones. When it comes to your customers, be as inquisitive as possible, and always listen to what they have to say. If there’s something they want done or changed, it’s important that you address their concerns in a timely and interested manner.

Create a forum or platform where customers can voice their concerns and share their insights in a casual and inviting way, and always be available to listen to them. Customer surveys, follow-ups, comment cards, and interactive websites are all great ways to gather information on what your customers really want.

Reward loyalty

Always remember, it costs much less to take care of your existing customers than it does to attract new ones. One of the best ways to improve and strengthen your relationship with customers is to make them feel appreciated. Sending a thank you note, vouchers, or other tokens of appreciation for staying with your company are sure fire ways to build brand loyalty. Introducing added incentives like a loyalty program can help market your business and entice customers to return.

Employee Training

Employees are the ambassadors for most businesses, and many customers’ opinions will be formed by their interactions with your personnel. That’s why it’s crucial to ensure your staff is well-trained, knowledgeable and experienced in customer service. Although ongoing training can be costly, it is an important step towards building stronger ties with your customers and a better reputation for your business.