Many businesses’ success depends on the satisfaction of their customers. If you are in the service industry, or rely on word-of-mouth referrals, building tools to better maintain customer relations should be on top of your professional development list. Here are some great ways to communicate better with customers, so they’ll keep coming back for future business.

1.      Make a Good First Impression

The way you introduce yourself, your company, and your product is key. First impressions can change the way potential customers perceive everything that follows them. Take time to polish your initial introduction and take constructive feedback to heart. Otherwise, you could turn potential leads off before you even have a chance to connect with them.

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2.      Build Relations to Communicate Better with Customers

Whether you reach your customers through social media, or a one-on-one visit, they should always feel like they have a relationship with you. Avoid making flat “sales pitches” – at least after the initial introduction. Instead, try to personalize your interactions with customers to address them as people with specific interests, needs, and priorities.

3.      Choose the Right Method of Communication to Meet Customers Where They Are

That advice applies to how you communicate with customers, as well as what you say to them. Today, there is no one right way to maintain customer communication. Some clients will prefer the personal touch of a phone call or a personal visit, while others may find those methods intrusive or time-consuming. Ask your customers about the right method of communication for them. Then respect their preferences.

4.      Actively Listen to Clients’ Needs

Customers will tell you what they need from you, if you actively listen to them. When meeting with a client, avoid multitasking or distractions. Try not to focus on what you will say next while they answer your questions. Instead, practice the art of active listening, asking clarification questions and making sure you understand what your customers are saying. That way, you can be sure you understand their needs, and better communicate how your products or services can meet them.

5.      Help Customers Understand Your Processes and Products

You know your company’s inventory and list of services inside and out, but your customers don’t. Often, they may only know a small subset of the services you offer. They may also vastly underestimate how long a project will take to complete, or how much effort a request entails. Take the time to explain your processes and products to them. This transparency will help you communicate better with customers, and manage expectations.

6.      Reply in a Timely Way to Customer Communication

The pace of business keeps getting faster. Your customers expect you to respond promptly to their social media messages and emails. A good rule of thumb is that emails should be addressed within 24 hours. However, it is easy for those demands to become overwhelming as your company grows and your potential pool of customers expand. Help your customers find a balance and promote better communication by setting expectations. If you need more time to answer a customer’s question, you can communicate that promptly and then follow up with more information.

7.      Track and Keep Promises Made to Customers

Follow through is essential if you want to better communicate with customers. You need to build trust that you will keep your word. Any time you promise something to a client – even a simple follow-up email – make a note of what the promise was, when it was made, and when it needs to be completed. Set reminders and block out time to complete each task. Otherwise, you could break a customer’s trust and lose their business.

8.      Ask for Feedback After Customer Interactions

There is always room to communicate better with customers. But you may not see the cracks forming in your customer relationship unless you ask. Invite customers to provide feedback after meetings or other interactions. When they offer criticism, take it seriously, and look for ways to improve your technique in the future.

9.      Resolve Customer Complaints Quickly and Directly

When customers do raise concerns, responding to them should be a top priority. Customer complaints will happen, even when you run the tightest of ships. You should have procedures in place to respond to them promptly and professionally. Always let the customer know their concerns are being taken seriously – even when you can’t disclose the actual corrective action taken. This will help them feel that their concerns have been validated, and builds trust that the misstep will not happen again.

10. Finish on a Helpful Note

The last thing you say to a customer is just as important as the first – especially if your company relies on repeat business. Taking a moment to thank the customer for their time, and to offer further help if they need it, can turn a one-time project into a customer for life. Depending on the size of the project, you may even consider a thank-you note or gift after the project is complete.

Developing better communication with customers is the key to keeping them. Strengthening your communication skills, and putting your customers’ priorities first, can go a long way to cultivating happy customers, and lasting client relations.

David Stanislaw is an organizational development specialist with over 25 years’ experience in helping businesses develop better communication with customers through business consulting and facilitation. Contact us to meet with David to improve customer communication today.