In the business world, a company can successfully build its brand name in many ways—advertising, online marketing, social media, and a plethora of other building processes. With a little hard work and a solid business plan, business owners can get their budding companies off to the right start.

But perhaps the factor most important for the continued success of a company is its relationships with customers. Through positive word-of-mouth, those customers may be the champions needed to bring in new clients and provide an overall boon to the business.

Many business owners, however, are uncertain how to build strong customer relationships. The process is actually simple if the professional knows some proven techniques to employ.

Take these seven steps to effectively strengthen your customer relationships:

  1. Send greeting cards
  2. Keep lines of communication with customers open
  3. Know the stages of customer loyalty
  4. Provide customer support
  5. Ask for customers' opinions
  6. Don't overlook current customers in your marketing
  7. Adapt your business plan/model

1. Send greeting cards

Simple gestures can go a long way. For the holidays, send cards to your customers to express how grateful you are for them and their business. That one simple act will make your customers feel respected, valued, and, best of all, appreciated. Taking a few breaks from selling your company to do an unselfish act will make your customers feel good.

2. Keep an open line of communication

Research shows that when customers receive multiple methods of communication, they are more likely to remain loyal. And, in many instances, the most effective communications incorporate soft sells rather than hard-hitting sales language.

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Stephanie Phillips is a social media advocate at small business credit card comparison website Reach her via