A Guide to Building Strong Customer Relationships to Create and Leverage Superfans
A customer relationship ecompasses the entire lifecycle of a customer's engagement with your brand, starting from the first point of contact, through the purchasing process, and extending into post-purchase support and beyond.
Nov 28, 2023 | 11 minute read
Content Marketing Manager
In a competitive ecommerce marketplace, where success is often measured in clicks and conversions, the true value of customer relationships can be overshadowed by a relentless pursuit of acquisition. The cost to acquire a customer in today’s competitive market is rising – currently standing at $274 for ecommerce companies, according to Userpilot research. However, amid the hustle to expand the customer base, the often-neglected secret to sustained success is the relationships you forge with the customers who are already on board.
As the old adage goes, it’s not just about making the sale; it’s about keeping the customer. And at the heart of this is the acknowledgment that customers aren’t just revenue streams; they’re individuals with unique needs, preferences, and voices. When your brand transcends the transactional and demonstrates a genuine interest in your customers, the dividends are substantial. Loyalty deepens, retention rates improve, and perhaps most importantly, customers feel valued.
In this guide, we explore the strategies and practices that contribute to strong customer relationships. We also break down the intricacies of nurturing relationships today, and how you can nurture them to build a community of loyal and profitable Superfans.
First, let’s explain what exactly we mean when we talk about customer relationships.
What is a Customer Relationship?
A customer relationship refers to the ongoing interaction and connection between your business and its customers. It encompasses the entire lifecycle of a customer’s engagement with your brand, starting from the first point of contact, through the purchasing process, and extending into post-purchase support and beyond. A strong customer relationship is characterized by trust, loyalty, and a sense of mutual value.
What is a Superfan?
Superfans are customers who are highly engaged with the brand. Superfans have high lifetime value and a level of social influence and trust. Superfans are also willing to collaborate with the brand on activities that help bring in new customers. They go beyond being mere customers; they’re enthusiastic advocates who actively promote the brand in various ways.
Here are the key characteristics of a Superfan:
- High Engagement: Superfans are highly engaged with your brand’s products, services, and content. They actively participate in discussions, follow updates, and seek out opportunities to connect with your brand.
- Advocacy: Superfans don’t just consume your brand’s offerings; they actively promote them. They share positive experiences, recommend products to friends and family, and serve as unofficial ambassadors for your brand.
- Conversion Boosters: Their word-of-mouth recommendations, reviews, testimonials, and user-generated content serve as powerful tools in influencing potential customers during the decision-making process. Superfans can act as catalysts in converting prospects into loyal customers.
- High Retention: Superfans contribute to customer retention efforts by consistently choosing your brand and remaining loyal over time. Their continued engagement sets an example for other customers, fostering a sense of community and loyalty.
- Feedback and Improvement: Superfans often provide valuable feedback that can be used for product improvements and enhancements. Their deep understanding of your brand makes their insights particularly insightful for continuous refinement.
Speaking at Okendo Evolve, Melanie Duncan, Co-Owner of Truvani, said:
“When I think about Superfans, I think of the customers we have that will buy anything that we make. So whether it’s a new protein powder flavor or we’ve gone into different lines and categories like personal care, it’s someone who really believes in the brand and believes in what we’re doing is aligned with what they are interested in and what’s important to them. True value for us as a company is the people that are willing to put themselves out there and advocate for your brand.”
Why Are Customer Relationships Important?
Customer relationships are crucial for several reasons, and their importance extends beyond the immediate transaction. For one, building strong relationships fosters customer loyalty. Loyal customers are more likely to stick with your brand, make repeat purchases, and become advocates, contributing significantly to your business’s long-term success.
Positive customer relationships also lead to positive word-of-mouth marketing. Satisfied customers are likely to recommend your brand to friends, family, and colleagues, serving as influential promoters. In fact, past data from Nielsen found shoppers are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend. This is a far more cost-effective way to acquire customers than traditional advertising, contributing to a high marketing return-on-investment (ROI).
In addition, brands with strong customer relationships are often more adaptable to changing market conditions. They can better understand evolving customer needs and preferences, allowing for quicker adjustments to meet market demands. On the other side of the same coin, since great customer relationships are built on emotional connections, it can lead to a sense of loyalty that’s unbreakable in rough times. This means your customers will be more forgiving and understanding during challenges.
What’s the Difference Between Customer Relations and Customer Service?
Customer relations and customer service are related concepts, but they refer to different aspects of the overall customer experience.
Customer service is a specific subset of customer relations. It involves the assistance and support provided to customers before, during, and after a purchase. It focuses on addressing customer inquiries, resolving issues, and ensuring customer satisfaction with the product or service.
Customer relations encompass the broader spectrum of interactions and relationships between your company and your customers. It includes all touchpoints throughout the customer journey, emphasizing long-term relationship-building, trust, and customer loyalty.
How to Build Customer Relationships to Create Superfans
Every brand should strive to achieve the level of devotion of a Superfan. To do so, they must focus on trust, community building, personalized experiences, and fostering loyalty. Here’s a strategic guide on how to build customer relationships that lead to the creation of Superfans.
1. Build Trust
Trust has emerged as a pivotal factor influencing consumer decisions. Establishing and nurturing trust is not just a strategy; it’s a commitment to building lasting relationships with customers. Here’s a roadmap to building trust and establishing deeper customer relationships.
Leverage the Power of Customer Reviews
Reviews offer customer-driven validation for your brand. For this reason, consumers place a tremendous amount of trust in real reviews from fellow shoppers. In fact, according to recent Okendo research on loyalty and retention, consumers rate customer reviews as the number one source of information that makes them more confident in making a purchase.
To leverage their power, feature real customer reviews prominently on your website and marketing materials. Authenticity is crucial in building trust, and genuine reviews provide an unfiltered view of your brand’s performance. It’s also important to actively engage with customer reviews, responding promptly to both positive and negative feedback. Transparent and empathetic responses demonstrate that you value customer opinions and are committed to resolving issues.
But don’t just wait for customers to leave a review. When you actively seek feedback from customers through review requests via sms or email, it makes them feel valued and involved. Encourage customers to share their experiences and content related to your brand, fostering a sense of community.
Implement Referral Marketing to Incentivize Recommendations
Referral marketing is an effective way to harness the power of satisfied customers to not only bring in new business but also solidify existing relationships. It goes beyond traditional marketing by transforming customers into advocates, fostering a sense of partnership, and building stronger, more lasting connections.
To boost the success of your referral marketing strategy, offer tangible incentives, such as discounts, exclusive access, or loyalty points, to customers who successfully refer your brand. These rewards not only express appreciation but also provide an extra motivation for customers to become advocates. Also ensure that the referral program is mutually beneficial. While customers receive rewards for successful referrals, also consider providing incentives to the referred individuals, encouraging them to engage with your brand.
In addition, you should leverage the referral program to initiate personalized engagement with customers. Tailor your communications to reflect their referral history, preferences, and other relevant information.
Collect In-Depth Feedback from Surveys
To create Superfans, you need to understand the needs, preferences, and sentiments of your customers. Surveys provide a structured and insightful way to collect in-depth feedback, facilitating not only improvements in your products or services but also cultivating a sense of trust and engagement.
Remember, you don’t want to inundate your shoppers with requests for feedback. The most successful survey campaigns utilize in-moment, micro-surveys that are quick and easy to complete. Customers can provide actionable feedback in a matter of seconds, and you can use it to take action quickly to hone your offerings and create more effective marketing programs.
For example, if a shopper is on a product page for athletic wear, it might trigger a survey that asks the user to select their favorite way to work out. With the click of a button, the brand knows that customer likes to lift weights, and can automate that information to their customer profile and use it to personalize communications in the future.
Personalize Shopping Experiences With Quizzes
The art of personalization has become a hallmark of outstanding shopping experiences, and product recommendation quizzes offer a dynamic and engaging method to tailor them according to individual preferences. By implementing quizzes, businesses can transcend traditional transactional relationships, delight customers, and foster a deep sense of connection.
For example, an interior design brand could craft quizzes that delve into the style preferences and aesthetic choices of its customers. This would arm them with insights into individual tastes, enabling businesses to recommend products that align with their customers’ distinctive preferences and as a result, drive revenue.
Quizzes extend the shopping experience beyond the transactional moment, too. They keep customers engaged for a longer duration, fostering a positive and memorable interaction. This paves the way for building Superfans who appreciate not just the products but the personalized and memorable experiences associated with your brand.
2. Create Positive Customer Experiences
Creating positive customer experiences is a strategic imperative for businesses aiming to foster loyalty and build a community of Superfans. Leveraging customer feedback, especially zero-party data obtained directly from customers, is a key driver in crafting the personalized and memorable interactions expected for a top-tier customer experience.
With platforms like Okendo, you can utilize unified profiles to consolidate data from various sources such as Quizzes, Surveys, Reviews, and Referrals. This provides a holistic understanding of your customers, which is foundational for designing personalized experiences.
You can then utilize the insights gleaned from unified profiles to create marketing campaigns with content that resonates with individual customers. Tailored content enhances engagement and reflects your brand’s commitment to meeting specific customer needs.
Key Tip: Leverage segmentation based on zero-party data to categorize customers into groups with similar preferences. This segmentation enables more targeted and effective marketing strategies that go much further when building a community of Superfans.
3. Foster Loyalty Through Specialized Programs
Loyalty programs are powerful tools that can not only retain existing customers but also turn them into enthusiastic advocates for your brand.
To build Superfans, infuse your loyalty program with elements that go beyond conventional perks. Implement tiered rewards systems that not only recognize but celebrate escalating levels of loyalty, providing exclusive access to limited-edition products, early sales, or VIP events. You can also offer points for engagement, and not just purchases, like participating in surveys, writing a review, or sharing UGC. This multi-faceted approach recognizes and rewards Superfans for their diverse contributions to your brand community.
By making your customer loyalty program an integral part of the overall customer experience, you not only retain customers but turn them into fervent advocates who actively contribute to your brand’s success and growth, evolving from loyal patrons into enthusiastic Superfans. Which seamlessly brings us to our next tip for creating Superfans.
4. Build a Brand Community
Building a brand community is a powerful way to connect with customers, foster loyalty, and create superfans. One compelling example of effective community building is the case of Boody.
Boody recognized that customers trust the opinions of their peers. To harness this trust, they syndicated customer reviews across their international storefronts, showcasing social proof that their products were well-received worldwide. This approach not only provided credibility but also created a sense of community, as customers from different parts of the world shared their experiences and feedback.
By doing so, Boody effectively tapped into the enthusiasm of existing customers and extended their reach to a global audience. As a result, Boody saw a remarkable increase in their conversion rate by 268%, demonstrating the power of building a brand community that connects, engages, and influences potential Superfans through the voices of satisfied customers.
Each of the strategies we’ve outlined in this blog contributes a piece to the puzzle of creating Superfans. But it’s important to think of your brand’s mission to build strong relationships as a journey well worth embarking on.
It’s about creating not just customers but Superfans who not only love your brand but also actively advocate for it. Through trust, transparency, feedback, personalization, and community-building, you can transform your customer base into a passionate community of Superfans, propelling your brand to new heights of success.
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