If you own a business that could benefit from customer loyalty (and what business wouldn't?), then it's essential that you develop an emotional connection with the people or businesses that purchase products or services from you.
The ability to connect with your local customers on an emotional level will give your business a true advantage over competitors.
If you've been in business for a significant amount of time, you've must surely realized that it can be much easier to retain repeat customers than to attract new ones.
Marketing your business is important, but keeping the customers you get is critical.
This concept is summed up perfectly in an article published on Inc.com, It's Cheaper to Keep ‘Em, that states, “It’s cheaper, easier, and more effective to retain current customers than it is to acquire new ones.”
Two of the most important reasons that it's beneficial to connect emotionally with your customers are:
1) Customers with an emotional investment in your business are more likely to turn into a repeat, long-term customers, and…
2) Customers with an emotional connection to your business are likely to recommend your business to others (and there's nothing better than word-of-mouth advertising).
Importance of an Emotional Connection
When customers connect with your business on an emotional level, the connection builds trust. When customers trust a business, they are often willing to go out of their way (and even pay a little bit more) for the products and services the business offers. Trust is powerful and meaningful – and it's something that cannot necessarily be bought. But it can be acquired through an emotional connection.
When customers have an emotional connection with your business, not only might they recommend your business to others, but also they might be willing to help your business succeed in the long run.
For example, if a customer with an emotional connection to your company notices that someone has posted a negative comment about your business on an online forum, the loyal customer might take the time and effort to reply to that comment with a positive response or a response that challenges the negative comment. This type of customer loyalty is incredibly important!
How to Build an Emotional Relationship with Customers in 7 Steps
Now that you understand the importance of an emotional connection with your customers, you probably want to know how to get started with building it.
Step 1: Ask yourself this question
First, it's only possible to develop an emotional connection with your customers if they believe that your business and brand is genuine and dependable. So ask yourself this question: “Is your business and brand genuine and dependable?” If so, you're ready to move to the next steps which include:
Step 2: Understand your customers
Who are they? It's practically impossible to build a meaningful emotional connection with people without understanding them.
Getting to know your customers is important. Who are they? How old are they? Where do they live? What do they value?
Once you are equipped with this information, you can begin to work on building an emotional connection with them.
Step 3: Let the public know who you are as a company
Most successful brands have a personality that is known to the public. What do you want your business to stand for? What do you want people to think when they see your logo or the name of your business?
Building a strong public image is a great step in the development of connections with customers and the general public.
Step 4: Learn how to effectively communicate with your customers
If your typical customer base is the younger generation, your business must communicate using the technology and social media outlets most commonly used by this group.
On the other hand, if your customers are older (e.g. those who do not regularly use Instagram, Snapchat, etc…), attempting to communicate with them using these particular social media mechanisms will simply will not work!
Step 5: Listen
One of the greatest ways to connect with your customers and with the public is to build a positive rapport with them. This can be accomplished by listening and responding to their concerns.
When a customer or potential customer asks a question or voices a concern, it's important to provide a thoughtful and meaningful reply. If a customer expresses a public concern over a product your business sells, a simple, “Thank you for your comment. We will look into the matter” is not going to help your business build a positive rapport with the public.
On the other hand, a response such as, “Thank you for bringing your concern to our attention. We have already looked into the situation, and we plan to take the following steps (list steps here).”
When members of the public see your in-depth response, they will develop a higher level of confidence in your business.
Step 6: Interact
Nobody likes to be ignored. If a customer or potential customer makes a comment about your business or wants to ask a question about it, it's important to interact.
When questions or comments are made via social media, a response is expected in a timely manner. A question or comment posted publicly but left unanswered can be viewed negatively.
If you don't address issues (either positive or negative), the public can easily develop unfavorable thoughts about your company. Once a negative opinion is formed, it can be very difficult to change.
Step 7: Keep your social media campaign active
If you don't plan to interact with customers or potential customers via social media, is there really a point in starting a social media campaign in the first place?
Having an inactive social media presence shows the public that you don't care enough to spend a few minutes each day posting quick messages or responses to their questions and comments.
Once your business develops an emotional connection with customers, the bond can be difficult to break.
An emotional connection typically equates to customer loyalty. Any business with a loyal customer base is destined for success.
One key to maintaining an emotional connection with customers is to consistently follow through with promises. If your business is going to host an event, sponsor a non-profit organization, hold a sale, or make a special offering – you had better follow through. This helps build a level of trust that should encourage your current customers to make the transition into lifetime customers who will return time and time again.