Building strong relationships with your customers is one of the most crucial aspects of starting and running a successful business. Without a clear understanding of who your customers are, what they’re looking for, and how you can inspire them to purchase again, you’ll constantly be stumbling around in the dark, searching in vain for growth strategies that actually work.
This process can be challenging for startups that are in the growth stage. After all, it’s difficult to think strategically when you’re shorthanded and always working on whatever’s most urgent at the moment.
However, it’s critical during this time to start building the practices that will delight your customers and keep them coming back again and again. After all, consistency is a skill that will not only attract more customers, but will also make training new staff easier as you grow.
Build consistency by creating battle rhythms
At Zyia Active Virtual Summit 2020, our bi-annual conference for sales representatives, Navy veteran Allison Hills introduced us to the concept of battle rhythms, which the military uses to build habits that synchronize current and future operations. During her presentation, Allison explained how business owners could use this mindset to create much-needed consistency in their daily operations.
Creating your battle rhythms starts by setting goals that are relevant to the customer experience. For example, you might have the objective of responding to all new customer inquiries within 24 hours or setting up three new client meetings in the upcoming month. Once you’ve identified your goals, work backward to create the daily, weekly or monthly battle rhythms that will help you achieve your objectives. With consistency, these battle rhythms become routines and systems designed to meet your customer’s needs.
Of course, these activities will look a little different for everyone, depending on your industry, internal processes, sales cycles and more. No matter what rhythms you institute, though, make sure to regularly evaluate these activities to ensure they’re moving you closer to your goals. As you continue to grow, your battle rhythms may evolve to help you achieve new things.
Turn your new habits into proactive customer service systems
As you begin building these practices, it’s crucial to remember that customers need nurturing. After all, if you’re only taking from your customers and not giving back, they probably won’t be your customers for long.
By using a proactive approach to customer service, you can begin building systems that engage customers on a regular and predictable basis with the goal of keeping them around over the long-term.
For many businesses, these opportunities exist on a daily, weekly or monthly basis:
Daily customer service
These activities could take place in a retail store, on social media or by reaching out to sales leads. These interactions aim to create consistent engagement, build brand loyalty and encourage further action.
As you undertake these activities, focus on showing up ready to serve your customers. Look for opportunities to provide useful information or ask leading questions that get your customers closer to what they want. Don’t forget that everything you can do to strengthen your relationship with customers during these interactions will serve you in the future.
Weekly customer service
Search out opportunities to connect with past, current or potential customers on an ongoing basis. Whether it’s a follow-up email after a purchase, a simple phone-call to check-in, or a weekly newsletter update, these activities keep you top-of-mind and demonstrate that you prioritize their needs.
These ongoing check-ins are also an excellent time to ask for feedback. While we all would prefer positive comments, negative feedback is a valuable asset, too. One customer’s complaint may represent the thoughts of many others who haven’t taken the time to share this feedback.
Monthly customer service
Some businesses with longer sales cycles need to approach customer service on a monthly or even quarterly basis. That requires a system for less frequent customer contacts. But how do you identify these irregular opportunities? Sales professionals are certainly used to hearing “no.” However, sometimes no means “not right now” rather than “not ever.”
If you hear a no, take that opportunity to dig deeper and find out if you can reopen the conversation in a month, or three months or even next year. Honoring these potential customers’ wishes and then following up on their preferred timetable will demonstrate your capacity to listen and take their needs into account.
Creating something better together
Taken together, these efforts create a predictable and dependable service environment that rewards your customers over and over again. Along the way, you’ll also gain more in-depth insight into their needs and motivations. These practices create a powerful feedback loop, where your business is always innovating and improving based on constant customer feedback. It’s an exciting idea and a compelling reason for every business owner to reexamine how their daily habits support their customer service goals.
Originally published Feb. 16, 2021.