Building Relationships With Customers — The Why and How

Gladly Team

Read Time

4 minute read

Smart ecommerce brands recognize that in order to compete in the modern retail landscape, retention is the most effective way to drive sustainable growth. To capitalize on that potential, every brand should be building relationships with customers by reinforcing strong support centers that can drive loyalty.

Let’s take a closer look at the value of building rapport with shoppers and the skills it takes to maintain good relationships with customers.

Why Is it Important to Build a Relationship With Customers?

Building relationships with customers creates opportunities for agents to turn one-time buyers into long-term, repeat shoppers.

Put simply, the better and more sustainable your customer relationships are, the more long-term revenue opportunities you’ll create. In addition to shoppers loving your brand and coming back for more, they’ll also trust agents to upsell them on products. In fact, Gladly’s 2022 Customer Expectations Report found that 66% of shoppers said they’d prefer brands to know them and can recommend things they would like.

Customer expectations stat

How to Build Relationships With Customers

Building relationships with customers starts by training agents and incorporating technology that helps each member of your team hone their soft and hard support skills.

Finessing soft skills

Building empathy: Empathy is the first building block to a strong relationship. When your team can connect with customers beyond a superficial level, those shoppers will feel far more comfortable and confident in the service being provided.

Pro tip: Give your agents the ability to connect with shoppers and build real relationships quickly. Get rid of your ticketed system and replace it with one that puts conversations over case numbers.

Practicing active listening: Your agents might be attentive listeners, but customers might not necessarily feel that way when they talk to them. Teams need to practice active listening in every interaction and make shoppers feel like they’re truly being heard.

Pro tip: Have agents try daily exercises, like repeating phrases back to one another, a simple tactic that goes a long way to demonstrate active listening.

Fortifying Hard Skills

Incorporating personalization: Your shoppers want to feel like agents know and recognize them, as Gladly’s Customer Expectations Report found that 44% of shoppers welcome brands knowing their names and past purchases. Personal touches lead to customers feeling more comfortable with brands, which in turn leads to a higher likelihood of a deeper relationship.

Pro tip: Ticketed systems make maintaining personal touches difficult, forcing you to restart the dialogue every time. Look for a conversation-driven system instead that keeps a consistent log of your brand’s interactions with each customer.

Demonstrating expertise: Customers want to know that the agent they’re talking to is knowledgeable about what they’re buying. The proof is in the numbers — 68% of shoppers like when agents are experts on the brand and product.

Pro tip: Give your agents an accessible, constantly updating knowledge base of all your brand’s essential information. That way, when a question comes up in a chat, they can pull up the information on the fly and answer any questions without friction.

Providing accessibility: If a customer can’t meet you on the channel of their choice, they’ll have a hard time feeling like your brand is one they want to purchase from again. In fact, 42% of customers ranked reaching agents on their preferred channel as the most important part of their experience.

Pro tip: Make sure your agents are present on every channel and equipped to handle tasks, regardless of how customers reach out. A conversation-driven support system versus a ticketed one makes the transition between channels even easier, ensuring relationships don’t suffer when shoppers make contact in more than one way.

What Customer Good Relationship Management Looks Like

During the pandemic, beauty brand Ulta realized relationships were the most important aspect of customer service. Their customer-centric agent training and support center allowed them to maintain the strength of their connections across channels, helping sales stay strong in the face of economic uncertainty. These relationships held because Ulta built a support center whose primary focus was loyalty.

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