How to make a personal connection with customers

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Loyalty is a key asset to any business.

Business owners seek loyalty from their employees and customers. Like in any relationship, loyalty comes through making personal connections.

Here’s how you can make personal connections with your customers:

Ask questions first:

Ask questions that will help your customer explain what he’s looking for. Taking the time to probe your customer will lead to better results.

Listen to the customer:

Asking someone a question and truly listening to the response will make them feel valued.

Talk about yourself:

Reveal something about yourself. Just be sure it’s something your customer can relate to and isn’t too personal.

Be patient:

Take the time to explain how your product or service will benefit your customer. Be patient as you cultivate this new contact. You don't want to make your customer feel rushed or hustled.

Model your business on the corner store:

If you long for the days of shopping at a local business where the owner knows your name, try to emulate that experience. Remember one or two details about your customer and bring them up in conversation.

 

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21 comments
    I have noticed that people really feel valued when they are listened to. On point!
    Certainly - key to delivering successfully and consistently on your client's objectives is understanding where they're coming from and trying to achieve - this not only assures the client that you are committed it also gives them a sense that you're a true team player and have a real interest in their success. No one wants to feel like just another pay check.... clients value service providers who demonstrate that they too have 'skin in the game.'
    I feel that customer experience isn't just something that impacts your brand in the marketplace. It IS your brand! So what are you doing to deliver exceptional experiences to your customers?
    Precisely! and in a world where word of mouth marketing is so effective bolstered by the hugely influential power of social media customer experience is central to establishing your brand. You ignore power of the customer's voice at your peril.
    I always try to consistently maintain good service in my business. I try to add special touches like a handwritten note with my deliveries or a card sent to them on their birthday. But any other suggestions would be helpful.
    There is so much reading material on this matter such a plethora of theory in this regard but I believe that HARD EVIDENCE is what is helpful for budding entrepreneurs and businessmen. Here we go - at BON Hotels have certain rules of engagement as far as BON Hotels Customer relationships are concerned. One of our cornerstone beliefs at BON Hotels is that people do business with people they like in order to like someone one needs to establish a personal connection - and we know that personal connections usually take time to nurture patience and energy from both parties to forge but that they require an investment. A few of our BONfundamentals relating to making personal connections with our guests are: 1. Between 06h00 and 09h00 our management team particularly our GM's are forbidden to be in their offices. They should be out on the floor en masse meeting with guests at breakfast meeting arriving conference delegates in the lobby at conference areas and spending time with departing guests who are checking out. For what reason? Making personal connections gathering information about the guests' stay and where improvements are required gathering information about future stays future events and opportunities gathering complaints from guests in general before they go viral inter alia. 2. Before our return guests VIP's long stay guests and BON Ami (loyalty members) even arrive at our hotels they are -pre-profiled by our Customer Relations Executive at each of our hotels. We will ascertain what their likes dislikes preferences etc are and will ensure that they are met on arrival by the Duty Manager or GM that personalised amenities and small but highly relevent and personalgifts are placed in their room prior to their arrival and that they are regularly contacted by management. These personalisations are then captured on their profiles and saved for future returns. 3. We have a Blueprint or Annual PLan for our key customers per hotel. Each year with the assistance from our head office marketing team each hotel produces a Stakeholder Blueprint which outlines the actions that we will be taking as a hotel business to look after our key clients. These are daily weekly monthly and annual actions which include courtesy calls from top executives quarterly reviews customer workshops client events rugby invitations etc. 4 Guest feedback - without a comprehensive feedback system you will never know what your clients think about you and are then likely to start believing one's own propaganda! Every guest who checks out of a BON Hotel is emailed a very brief questionaire upon departure which must meet our strict company requirements (10% of all our guests must complete this and there must be an overall satisfaction index of 90%). If not the management team are in trouble. Each guest review is reviewed by our Operations Director and myself and we regularly get involved in resolving customer complaints personally.We insist that our GM's do a certain number of face-to-face guest interviews which must be documented. We find that resolving a customer complaint at source (or as near as possible to the event having taken place) is the best way to developing a great relationship with a customer and creatinga customer for life!!! These are just a few practical examples of how we really try hard to get to our customers. Behind our thinking regarding keeping our customers close is the basic fundamental and Rule Number 1 of Marketing - YOU MUST OWN THE RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR CUSTOMER. If you don't someone else will!
    Impressive how you've woven it into the fabric of your company culture! and the results speak for themselves! (and now i know i'm definitely going to be checking into one of your facilities -the experience sounds heavenly;-) . Our company is pretty small and we try to use that to our advantage when it comes to delivering on customer relations. We have formal and informal feedback mechanisms built into our client reporting structure so we always have a finger on the pulse of how they're experiencing our service. Working in the creative space often the way people view things is subjective and it's crucial not to take things personally and really listen to what the client is saying - it IS their brand after all and they know best how they want it positioned and communicated.
    I believe that so business is won and lost purely in the personal connection space. For certain business owners this comes naturally and they seem to be really good at it. For me as a more introverted person (even though I may appear to be extroverted!!! LOL!) this remains one of my biggest challenges and obstacles. I've realised the hard way that deep-grounded personal connections and relationships with ones clients cannot be abdicated to someone else. Sure your sales director or marketing director needs to have these relationships sassed but what about me as the CEO? It starts with taking one's top 10 clients and ensuring that there is a matrix of WORKING relatonships between the key members of your organisation against the key members of each of your top 10 clients. So........BON CEO to Client CEO. BONSales Director to Client Procurement Director. BON Financial Director to Client Financial Director. BOn Accounts recievable to Client Accounts Payable... Again the key is that you and your company must own the relationship with your client. Otherwise your competitors will.....
    I hold firm and believe that execeptional experiences whilst they should and must take place as regularly as possible in the hotel business and in business in general are very difficult to maintain. We believe that the following will immediately differentiate us from our competitors and most of our competitors at large and our hotels live and swear by this ethos (we don't get it right all of the time but we really do aspire to getting this right) Getting the basics right. Every time. The basics in our business are in no particular order for each of our hotels: 1.High quality beds and linen in all our hotels. 2. Unlimited and high quality WIFI. 3. A clean and tidy hotel with everything in good working order. 4. Sincere and friendly service from all staff. 5. Providing value for money for all our guests. I'm not suggesting that we aim low ...what I am saying is that we believe that it is better to firstly ensure that you are getting the basics right. Once you have these basics operating like clockwork (good luck!) then move to the next level to start creating real moments of magic as much as possible with your clients.
    https://www.helpscout.net/75-customer-service-facts-quotes-statistics/ One of the better articles around outlining the impact of customer feedback and the consequences of poor service and so much stemming from potentiallynot have a relationship with your client! I believe that having a personal connection or relationship with ones clients will help you out onthe day that your company messes up which it will. Instead of taking to social media telling friends or simply closing the account your client should then be in a position to call you or meet with you and give you an opportunity to rectify. Naturally one can only mess up once!
    Yes Marang Word of Mouth referral s the key to so many service related business success or failure particularly in the starting stages of evolving ones business. Be it hotels car rental catering events restaurants or bars our start up businesses rely heavily on this initially and thereafter just as much! We know that a satisfied guest will only tell around 4 friends of a great experience at one of our hotels. But a disgruntled guest will tell between 15 and 24!!!
    Yes and often It's the way a complaint is handled that makes or breaks the relationship. If I have a complaint with a particular company that is handled with humility and respect I am more likely to be loyal.
    It depends on the business you're in but i find making occasions out of special days works really well - eg celebrating anniversaries of how longwe've been with a client sending them flowers when they achieve a personal milestone within the workplace -such asa completing acourse a promotion at work -regular check-ins with them - a coffee every six weeks to just check the pulse.... that's the soft stuff. Then build in official feedback mechanisms in your business so that it's not just anedcotal. Report mechanisms easy to complete questionnaires orsurveys - just so that from a professional standpoint you have a real sense of where the client is in terms of your service and delivery.....
    Thanks for that article - very illuminating and put some sobering statistics on what we pretty much know to be true! Imagine 12 positiveexperiences to make up for the damage that 1 poor customer review does! I always maintain that i only share a bad review if i think the service provider is worth the trouble - most times i just choose to walk away forever. So when a customer takes the trouble to give you honest and constructivefeedback definitely listen - it shows they're still invested. As stated earlier here more often than not the manner in which the conflict is resolved cements how the client views you. They're willing to overlook a mistake or oversight if their issue is treated in compassionate and professional manner. I learnt this some years ago - a staff member made an unauthorized purchase on a client's credit card (she had been instructed to wait on a go-ahead but jumped the gun and it was the wrong decision to make). Ultimately the buck stopped with me - i let client know that we would take the financial hit since it was clearly our mistake. In the short term it really hurt - but in long run was hugely benefitial. Client appreciated our approach and has since referred us for a number of amazing opportunities that far outstrip the financial loss we made back in 2012. AND the staffer learnt a powerful lesson about why processes and protocols are in place. She's one of my star players!
    For sure - and conversely if i feel like a complaint is consistently handled poorly then i become a VERY disgruntled customer and almost go on a crusade to ensure that everyone i know avoids the offending service provider! human nature! ;-)
    So much to be learnt from this. I learnt that inasmuch as i'm a naturally gregarious human being who connects easily with people it is critical to also have a formal feedback service in place also - as a professional outfit certain things just have to be formalized. It's really interesting to read how you've intergrated both aspects in the way you handle customer relations Guy..... i'll be picking up tips! ;-)
    Marang the Relationship Matrix is something I learned outside of the hotel business at a company I worked at that had (and still has) the best relationships with it's clients I have ever come across. The easy thing for them was that they had the budget when I worked there to spoil and entertain clients lavishly take them on golfing and culinary weekends away conference and workshop with them regularly and generally spoil them rotten. The relationship between the organisations was secure across the board having secured all relationships between companies from the bottom up!
    That is quite an eye opening article! If we didn't thing customer service was the key to business that will certainly convince you. Thanks for sharing your insights some very valid and helpful points on here which I am certain to share with my key staff.
    Required reading really!!
    Have you ever had the guts to ask a client that is about to leave you what they really think of you and your business?And I use the word guts because it takes guts to ask digest and then learn from their comments.Isuppose it could be equated to having an exit interview with a staff member who is a tad disgruntled and is leaving to work at the opposition except with you as the CEO conducting the interview and not the HR Manager or HOD. If your client is honest and has an iota of decorum about them they will tell you what you don't want to hear which couldend up being of great value to you.
    It's a tough ask but a very important one. i find customers often wish to spare your feelings & so it is necessary to probe and ask for examples.