Businesses involved in short-term transactional relationships can get away with only a few of those ingredients, Watson says. But those wanting repeat business should avoid the temptation to skimp on components.
“If a customer is going to keep giving you their business they are usually going to want to believe you enjoy interacting with them, you understand their needs,” she says.
“[This includes] the deeper, emotional ones they may not articulate. You’re providing them with something of value and you’re easy to deal with throughout their customer journey.”
This includes providing them with choices which allow them to feel in control, Watson says, showing you are trustworthy and you care for them as a person – not just a source of revenue.
This all may sound self-evident (who doesn’t realise it’s important to have a good rapport with customers?) but Watson points out knowing and doing are two separate things.
“I find even the strongest performers benefit from a refresher course,” Watson says. “Often people will say they are ticking all the boxes.”
“I’ll ask them, ‘Are you sure that you’re building rapport with your customers rather than just having a pleasant but shallow interaction with them? Do your customers really feel they have a close relationship with you? That you understand their hopes and fears?’”
“Often the service provider will then realise there’s room for improvement.”
For Mark Neil, National Risk Specialist at ANZ Wealth, the small things can add up to a better customer experience. It’s not difficult, for example, to set up a Facebook page and invite customers to like it.
“Then you can invest a small amount of effort to highlighting the personality of your business,” he says.
“Sharing pictures of a morning tea held for a staff member going on maternity leave can make customers feel they’re part of your business.”
Watson says the benefits to having better relationships with customers are innumerable.
“An obvious one is that those customers will be passionate about recommending you to their friends and family members,” she says.
“Word of mouth advertising remains the most powerful kind. One of the best ways to [win customers] is by exceeding the expectations of your existing ones.”
Nigel Bowen is a freelance journalist
This is an edited version of a story which originally appeared on apexinsights