Today, consumers are interested in businesses that excel in customer relationships. What you’re selling them, how you’re selling it, and what happens after you’ve sold it to them.

To achieve great service, many companies are now focusing on how they manage their customer relationships. Building strong customer relationships is a great way to develop customer loyalty and retain valuable, long-term customers. If you’re looking to improve customer relationships at your company, it helps to understand what successful customer relations look like and how you can create them with your clientele.

What is customer relations?

Customer relations is the connection — aka the relationship — that you have with your customers when they come through your door and learn about your company and your products. You can have both good customer relations or bad customer relations depending on how you treat your customers.

It’s important to note that customer relations are more than just your average understanding of customer service. Sure, the job sounds the same: keep customers happy and take care of their needs. But it’s also more than a one-time event.

What goes into customer relations?

The best way to understand this is to take a look at what is actually involved in the world of customer relations in detail.

The main roles involve:

Proactive relations:

This is a fancy term that basically means that you are going to focus on building a long-lasting connection to the customer. This could be in providing FAQ updates, promotions or details, or discounts.

These kinds of details are designed specifically to ease customer concerns and also make it clear that you value their business at the same time. The focus, here, is long-term comfort and success in building a substantial relationship.

Reactive relations:

As you can probably guess, this is a kind of customer relationship that is entirely after the fact. That is, if a customer is having a problem in which they need support or help — quite often, there is anger involved — it’s your job to help solve their problems and listen to their concerns so that they can best assist you in what you need.

Reactive relations is a very important part of customer relations, as it shows that you can respond to problems quickly and with a concrete plan that is going to solve their problem and make them feel as though their voice is heard.

Sometimes, a situation can be both proactive and reactive, so having proper employee training in both — as well as a plan — is important to make sure that you keep customer retention as high as possible even if they’re upset or frustrated. It is an art form that really does require time, experience and a whole lot of patience.

Advantages to a good customer relationship:

With all of that work going into customer relations and protecting them, why worry about it? There are all sorts of perks to maintaining a good customer relationship and they can all link back to that earlier example of someone looking to sell a new and exciting product online:

Customer satisfaction:

When a customer knows that they are being heard and that their questions are answered and problems solved, they leave your store feeling satisfied. Not only are they likely to leave you a positive review or share their positive experience online with their friends — hello free publicity! — but they can also be known to recommend you to their friends when they are looking for a similar product or service.

Customer loyalty:

Along those same lines is the fact that customer loyalty is a critical detail in running a business. When they need you and your service or product, they have the choice of coming back to you or going elsewhere. With positive customer relations, they know that they are getting the best product or service, as well as the best treatment from you. This keeps them loyal time and time again.

Customer retention:

Customers are fickle and customer loyalty can disappear in a flash. It’s the truth. If you anger them or insult them or fail to fix their problem, they’ll go to someone who can, even if it means that they are going with an inferior product (in your opinion).

Treat customers right, on the other hand, and they’ll be at your side to support you and your business forever. Treating your customers properly through customer relations is very important for long term success.

How to maintain customer relations

Looking to make sure that you can keep customers coming back and feeling like their business is wanted? Here are some ways in which you can maintain excellent customer relations, no matter who you’re dealing with:

Employee training:

We all know that customer that comes in asking a million questions about products, rules, and brands. It can be enough to overwhelm an inexperienced employee that is still getting their footing. Employee training, especially in customer relations, is a priority above all else to prevent that from happening. A calm and collected employee does wonders.

Having a plan in place for potential problems:

Another issue if those rude and complaining customers that always come at the worst possible time. No matter how rude or aggressive customers get, understanding the procedure and process for dealing with them and their concerns helps take a lot of the stress out of it.

Listening to customers and adapting:

As customers communicate on what works and what doesn’t work, you may find your procedures and protocols will adapt and shift too. Not only is this a good thing, but it’s also recommended for keeping up with the times as well as the customer themselves.

Taking care of your business means putting in place, adhering to, and adapting customer relations in order to best serve your customers. Since there is a lot of competition out there that is all aiming to the same market, you have to make sure that your customers understand just how much you value them and their business.

Customer relations — both proactive and reactive — are key to proving that to them. From the tips above to the benefits below them, every modern business is going to have to have some sort of customer relations plan in place to keep up with the competition out there. The better it is, the better off your relationship and, as an indirect result, your business reputation both short- and long-term.