Strong customer relationships drive sales, sustainability, and growth, especially in today's economy. Companies that build and maintain excellent customer and client relationships lead the pack, whereas those that don't put clients first fall off pace and, eventually, disappear completely.

It is no secret that customers are a company's greatest asset and it costs much less to retain a current customer than it does to acquire a new one. But even though loyalty improvements should be a priority, many businesses struggle to improve the vitality of their customer relationships, especially when they confuse customer satisfaction with loyalty.

Sure, customer satisfaction is important, but to achieve long-term customer loyalty, businesses need to dig deeper and identify proven tactics for strengthening the health and depth of their business relationships.

Why Relationships Matter

A clear correlation exists between the quality and length of customer relationships. Essentially, the stronger the relationship, the longer the customer will continue to do business with you. At Brookeside, we've found that 50% of customers who report strong, "Trusted Adviser" relationships are retained for at least six years. That's a pretty compelling statistic.

A big mistake companies make is not realizing that customer satisfaction does not always translate to loyalty. A satisfied customer is simply someone who has received what he was promised—nothing more, nothing less. Strong customer relationships, on the other hand, imply that you have delivered something extra or provided added value to the customer. Long-term loyalty and the countless benefits that go along with it are awarded to companies that go the extra mile for their customers.

For example, treating your customers with respect on both a professional and a personal level will communicate that you appreciate their business and, most of all, that you value their opinion. Remember the personal details. Did they mention an upcoming birthday or wedding anniversary? Take a mental note and remember to send a card or say congratulations at your next meeting. Let the customer know the relationship means just as much—or more than—the paycheck.

By investing in the development of healthy customer relationships, you can increase loyalty and build long-term value. When you establish trusting, mutually beneficial relationships, customers are also more likely to deliver larger wallet share, higher conversion rates and referrals—all of which are essential ingredients for a successful business.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Tom Cates

Tom Cates is founder, CEO, and Chief Storyteller of salesEQUITY, a SaaS-based client engagement platform that uses a proven quantitative methodology to measure and assess the health of individual client relationships.

LinkedIn: Thomas Cates