How to build customer relationships that earn trust, loyalty, and sales

A business owner learning how to build customer relationships

Good brands have always built strong relationships with their customer bases to encourage client retention, expand sales portfolios, inspire repeat business, and turn customers into fans and brand advocates.

However, in an economy increasingly dominated by ecommerce, building meaningful customer relationships has gotten harder. While most brands have seen the size of their audience dramatically increase thanks to online shopping and digital marketing, scaling the personalization required for trust and transparency is complicated.

Strong customer relationships are as crucial as ever, so this post will share eight best practices for building them.

Why building customer relationships is important

Strong customer relationships endear audiences to your company and keep them in your ecosystem. With so much competition only a click away, it’s hard to overstate the importance of building a rapport with prospects, customers, and advocates.

How to build strong customer relationships

There are as many ways to build customer relationships as there are brands and audiences. Below are some general strategies and best practices to get you started, but be sure to test and experiment with each one to make sure you’re creating the best value for your specific audiences.

1. Provide great customer service

The best way to build strong customer relationships is to provide quick, genuine customer service. A good customer service experience makes your brand stand out from the competition and endears loyalty in customers.

Great customer service is:

2. Understand your customers

To build a relationship with your customers, you have to get to know them. Understanding what they like and what motivates them is crucial to meeting their needs.

User profile graphic

Buyer personas are a good place to start. Building out audience personas helps you pinpoint why and how customers are coming to your business. It takes research, but the reward is that you will truly understand your ideal customers. Good personas will help you:

Once you establish who your customers are by using buyer personas, you can then map their customer journey. Notice all the different places your customers interact with your brand — before, during, and after they make a purchase — and use these touchpoints as key moments to improve your relationship.

The final step to understanding your customers is to move beyond personas to customer profiles. Individual profiles are the key to treating each customer as a unique person and building meaningful relationships.

3. Personalize your communication

Personalization is no longer optional. According to Insider Intelligence, 53% of buyers expect a unique and personalized experience no matter what the medium. The data and technology are available and enough brands have embraced personalization that audiences expect it.

A personalized birthday communication form Target

4. Create value

Customers come to you to make a purchase, but you build a stronger relationship if you can create additional value for them.

There are many ways to add value for a customer, but before you start developing these strategies, clarify your value proposition. Any additional value should be rooted in what sets your business apart from the competition. Trying to add value with offerings or services that don’t closely relate to your business ends up diluting your brand.

With that guidepost in place, here are a few strategies for creating additional value.

5. Reward customer loyalty

People love rewards, and they also love feeling like their purchases are going toward a larger goal. Rewarding loyal customers breeds good will and increased loyalty. A well-conceived rewards program can also convert more casual shoppers into long-term fans.

An effective loyalty program might include:

Apart from any specific program, always look for novel ways to say thank you. Surprise your most loyal customers with a personal card or gift and it will go far to strengthen an already good relationship.

An example of customer loyalty incentives

Sephora’s Beauty Insider loyalty program displays clear tiers of membership and the benefits each one enjoys.

6. Exceed expectations

Depending on your industry, customers will have expectations for the type of experience they’re in for. Exceeding those expectations and surprising the customer creates a great experience and builds rapport.

Prioritize the customer experience and go above and beyond wherever possible.

Customer expectations in many industries are fairly low. You can stand out by being thoughtful, thorough, and genuine.

7. Communicate consistently and build trust

Depending on your industry, it usually takes anywhere from three to nine touchpoints — in the form of a website visit, email, live conversation, or social media engagement — to make a sale. A consistent brand voice and message across all your channels communicates well and builds trust.

With inbound or outbound messaging, always be honest and transparent. For example, if it’s doubtful you’ll have a product in stock before the new year but your customer wants it this fall, just tell them upfront. Building trust with customers is essential to a strong relationship.

8. Gather customer feedback

Allow customers to easily submit feedback so they feel more involved in your brand. Make sure to act on that feedback to build trust with your audiences.

There are several easy ways to gather useful feedback.

Getting started building customer relationships

Every interaction you have with a customer is a chance to impress them and win their trust. Strong customer relationships deepen CLT, encourage additional sales, and turn shoppers into advocates.

When you’re ready to prioritize customer relationships, start with your customer service representatives. Then, make sure you really understand your audiences and that you have the tools you need to maintain all the data and insights you need.

Adobe Audience Manager helps turn insights into action. As a data management solution, Audience Manager collects and merges information from practically any source, building intelligent audience segments that give you a complete view of your customers. With attribute-based audiences, lookalike modeling, and more, Audience Manager helps you take charge of your customer experiences and extend your reach further than before.

Take a short product tour or watch an overview video to see how you can go beyond limited, media-based integrations and put your customers front and center with Adobe Audience Manager.