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5 foolproof ways to strengthen customer relationships during tough economic times

When the economy hits a downturn, customer engagement and retention become key. Here’s how to nurture and improve customer relationships even when the going gets tough.

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Copper Staff

Contributors from members of the Copper team

A guest blog by David Chevalier, CEO and co-founder of Surfe (ex-Leadjet), a Paris-based B2B SaaS start-up that brings CRM systems to LinkedIn

When it comes to a healthy business, effective leadership, processes and tools may come to mind. But the actual living, breathing heart of a successful business isn’t found in analytics, OKRs or your tech stack.

It’s in your long-term connections.

If your customer relationships are strong and healthy, your business can weather almost anything — including an economic downturn — because you’ll retain your customers. It’s pretty telling that customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than those that aren’t.

If you’re unsure how to nurture your customer relationships, here are 5 ways to get started:

1. Focus on customer engagement

Customer relationships are what keep a business afloat. It’s simply not enough to close a deal and move on. You still need to make that relationship a priority to retain that customer and keep them happy. A renewed focus on customer engagement, especially during lean times, can help foster trust and reduce customer churn while increasing customer lifetime value (CLV) and even generating more referrals for your business.

Choose a customer engagement strategy that’s unique to your team and service. Some customer engagement tactics include complementary user onboarding, video customer service chat and free webinars or other resources like a customer community or exclusive customer newsletter. The goal here is to develop concrete ways to keep your customer connected to your brand.

Keep in mind that personalization is key to successful customer engagement. Address customers by their name, make sure to reference their history with your company and actively listen to their feedback and provide personalized responses for each account.

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2. Invest in customer loyalty campaigns and humanize your brand

Customer engagement means keeping your customer interested in your brand. Creating ways to keep them coming back, like a customer loyalty campaign, is an easy way to increase intrigue and excitement around your brand as well as retain customers.

When creating a loyalty program for your customers, the most important thing to consider is exactly what behavior you’d like to reward to maximize engagement. Is it a certain purchase threshold, leaving your company a review or referring you to a friend or colleague? Focus on creating a program that effectively rewards customers and increases their goal gradient effect (this means that when people become closer to reaching a goal, they work even harder to achieve it).

Once you’ve chosen your behavior, pick a reward that fits with your product, brand and customer base. Rewards should be attainable because if they’re too hard, customers won’t bother. Exclusivity can also help draw customers in, too.

3. Meet customer expectations and streamline communication with the right tools

As customer expectations evolve and change, you'll want to change your brand and service along with them. Even just 10 years ago, consumers might not have prioritized sustainability or expected your company to have a social media presence, but now it’s the norm.

With today’s digitized reality, customers are used to immediate gratification. How can your brand satisfy this expectation? Besides ensuring a speedy website and quick response time, the answer lies in anticipating your customers’ needs so you’re prepared to meet them as soon as they arise.

One of customers' most important expectations is customer service. It’s not about avoiding problems — because problems will always happen. Instead, it’s about addressing them quickly and efficiently. 70% of unhappy customers whose problems are resolved are willing to shop with a business again.

Connecting with customers to best resolve their issues often depends on using the right tools. After all, it’s impossible to prioritize customer service if you can’t pull up a customer profile quickly when you have them on the phone. The right tools can help customer service reps get up to speed fast, allow customers to troubleshoot on their own, and increase communication all around.

4. Use CRM software for the most personal approach

Quick and easy access to customer profiles is essential when a customer needs assistance, which is why many companies use a CRM system for customer service. But the efficient organization of customer profiles goes beyond just helping customers when there’s an issue; CRM helps all the wheels of a company turn in unison.

Without understanding your customers’ experiences and history, it’s impossible to maintain a positive relationship with them, troubleshoot when issues arise or follow up in a personalized way. A savvy CRM platform can help businesses keep track of their business contacts — from leads and prospects to customers and vendors — and access critical customer data whenever, wherever. Keeping everyone in your organization on the same page with up-to-date information on all of your important accounts helps avoid missteps, miscommunications and missed opportunities. It enables everyone on your team to deliver the attentive, personalized service that your customers expect.

A CRM like Copper was designed with ease of use in mind. Seamless Gmail sync, plus handy integrations with your go-to daily tools like Dropbox, Slack and Surfe make your workday more productive with all your business info flowing together into your Copper account.

5. Monitor your customer base

You can’t focus on customer relationships if you don’t actually know who your customers are and when or what they’re buying. Monitoring your customer base (which is best done using a CRM tool) is an easy way to see who’s buying your product, plus other key details that can help you better understand your customers, their preferences and habits.

It’s easy to run reports using customer data to see when or what customers are buying and how they’re engaging with your brand. Using this information, you can develop creative retention strategies, loyalty programs or other initiatives to personally appeal to each customer. You can also figure out how to best solve their pain points or troubleshoot when issues arise.

Relationships rule

By attentively nurturing your customer relationships, you’re more likely to turn a one-time buyer into a lifelong customer. And who wouldn’t want that, especially considering that repeat customers spend an average of 67% more than new customers?

Satisfied customers equal more sales, more referrals and better retention, so you can keep growing your business and thrive through good times and bad.

If you’re looking for an integration that will help sync information from LinkedIn to your Copper CRM account, check out Surfe. Surfe is a sales productivity solution that makes Copper accessible directly from the LinkedIn platform, helps transfer information and conversations to the database, and keeps your data clean and updated. Surfe is included in Copper’s Business plan, and is available on Copper Pro for an additional cost.

About the author: David Chevalier is the CEO and co-founder of Surfe (ex-Leadjet), a Paris-based B2B SaaS start-up that brings CRM to LinkedIn. Prior to founding Surfe, David worked as an analyst in leveraged finance and private debt at ODDO BHF in Frankfurt. He loves topics related to CRM, sales strategy, product-led & community-led growth and (bootstrapped) SaaS.

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