Article | 12 min read

What is customer connection? 16 ways to connect with customers

Customer connection helps you build a strong relationship with your buyers. Learn how to connect with your audience on a personal level and create brand loyalty.

By Heather Wintermantel, Head of Global Customer Experience, Customer Success Strategy & Innovation

Published October 18, 2022
Last updated October 18, 2022

It’s more important than ever for businesses to create strong customer connections. In today’s competitive landscape, companies need to connect with their audience if they want to stand out from the crowd, retain customers, and build loyalty. In the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2022, 60 percent of companies stated that succeeding at wowing customers has improved their customer retention.

Customer connection is also meaningful because it:

  • Allows you to get to know customers on a more personal level
  • Builds customer trust
  • Reduces the cost of acquiring new customers
  • Helps you achieve customer success
  • Creates a customer advocate to help evangelize the value of your company and products or services

1. Learn what your customers value

To build customer connections, it’s essential to learn what your customers value in your products and services from both a qualitative and quantitative perspective. Customer value measures the benefits and costs that are associated with a product or service. Knowing this can help you personalize your interactions with your customers.

How to put it into practice: You can conduct customer-centric discovery to understand your customer’s goals and objectives. You can also send customers a survey asking them to rate their level of satisfaction with the product they purchased.

Additional tips:

  • Pay attention to what your customers are saying online through social listening platforms.
  • Ask for feedback on products or services.
  • Compile data from customer analytics.

2. Build a customer-centric culture

Ensure you’re building a company culture that values customer service and a customer-focused mindset. Building customer relationships and securing connections will eventually and organically lead you to the profit you’re seeking.

How to put it into practice: A customer advisory board can help you gather feedback. You can also get insight into customer needs and expectations via social listening and surveys.

Additional tips:

  • Listen to what your customers want and respond accordingly.
  • Make space for ideas from customers.
  • Put yourself in buyers’ shoes.

3. Create empathy maps that reflect the customer’s journey

Create empathy maps, globe

To build and foster customer connection, you must understand your customers on a personal level and meet them where they are at on their journey with your business. An empathy map is a visual tool that shows what a business already knows about its customers—these maps have four categories outlining what a customer thinks, does, feels, and says. They help collect information about your buyers and can improve your communication with them.

How to put it into practice: When building an empathy map, make sure you do so for multiple buyer personas. Usually, businesses have different buyer personas modeled after particular segments of their audience. Each segment should have its own empathy map.

Additional tips:

  • Gather additional information through studies and surveys.
  • Avoid making assumptions.
  • Look at the big picture when creating these maps.

4. Build a bridge between online and in-person experiences

In a digital-first world, it’s essential to make each customer connection as personal as possible—even when you’re not interacting in person. Additionally, the online support and in-person support experiences should be connected.

How to put it into practice: You can integrate your support software with Zoom or another online video service and other apps to help create that face-to-face time and foster stronger relationships.

For example, Deckers Brands was able to pair Zendesk with its in-store Click and Collect service, which allows customers to buy items online and pick them up at the store. As a result, the company has seen a surge in conversions.

Additional tips:

  • Meet with customers in person, if possible.
  • Use video to provide information to customers.
  • Offer webcam customer support.

5. Respond to customer concerns quickly

Respond to customer concerns quickly stat

Responding to customers promptly builds trust and makes them feel valued. It also helps you meet their expectations—customers want quick support. According to our CX Trends Report, 76 percent of consumers expect to engage with someone immediately after contacting a company.

How to put it into practice: Many customer concerns and complaints stem from a bad interaction and can result in a negative review. You can establish customer rapport by proactively reaching out to disgruntled buyers, expressing a sincere apology, and providing a gift card or discount code to use on a future purchase.

Additional tips:

  • Make sure you respond quickly on all platforms and adhere to your SLAs.
  • Stay on top of customer service metrics to ensure your team handles every request promptly.
  • Provide customers with adequate information to resolve their issues.

6. Anticipate the customer’s needs

Another great way to build customer connection is by anticipating buyers’ needs. If you strive to take care of customers before their need for care comes up, then you’re more likely to form lasting relationships with them.

To help anticipate their needs, conduct surveys, customer advisory boards, and focus groups regularly to see how you can improve your product, service, or overall customer experience. Monitor what your customers are saying about your product or service online, too. It also helps to keep all your customer information in one place, as it gives your team a single point of view of the customer needed to drive customer conversations.

How to put it into practice: You can create a customer journey map to identify what leads consumers to discover your product and where they may get stuck on the path to purchase. For example, if a lot of customers tend to land on a pricing page but don’t convert, they might need additional information that the page isn’t providing.

Additional tips:

  • Keep up with current trends to see what your customers may want.
  • Look for a new business problem to solve, not a product to sell.
  • Let customers try before they purchase.

7. Keep it personal

Opting for a conversational, personal tone rather than a transactional one can add a human touch to the interaction and help establish a customer connection. This is especially important, as 70 percent of customers expect conversational experiences, according to our CX Trends Report.

A conversational CRM can help you achieve this—it’s all about keeping conversations connected across channels. This tool also gives agents the customer context they need to personalize conversations, no matter where they’re taking place.

How to put it into practice: For starters, always use the customer’s first name in conversations to maintain personalization and create a customer connection.

Additional tips:

  • Avoid a sales-first conversation; don’t push products on a customer. Instead, ask the customer questions to learn more about them and their needs.
  • Use “we” phrases instead of “you” phrases.
  • Add your photo to your email signature to assure people they’re speaking to a real person.

customers expect conversational experiences stat

8. Prioritize convenience

Convenience is in the eye of the customer—you’re more likely to connect with your audience if you make things convenient for them. The less work they have to do on their end, the better.

How to put it into practice: Make it a breeze for customers to contact you by letting them do so on the messaging platform of their choice, whether that’s social media, text, chatbot, or email.

Additional tips:

  • Provide customers with self-service resources so they can solve basic problems themselves.
  • Ensure your processes are simple to navigate.
  • Lead conversations with empathy and put customer needs first.

Improve your customer connections

Conversational experiences are key to developing strong customer connections. Learn how to integrate conversational customer support into your strategy so you can deliver high-quality experiences and boost brand loyalty.

9. Express your appreciation

Showing a customer that you value their business and time can go a long way—it can make them feel satisfied and want to buy again. Repeat customers are also more likely to share positive things about your company with their family and friends.

How to put it into practice: Consider sending gifts to customers out of the blue to show your appreciation and thank them for their loyalty.

Additional tips:

  • Donate to causes that your customers care about.
  • Offer free services during hard times.
  • Periodically send discount codes to customers.

10. Follow up with your customers

Checking in with customers after a request shows that you care and want to ensure they’re satisfied. It can also help you determine whether a customer had a poor experience.

How to put it into practice: If a customer makes a purchase or tries your service, send them a follow-up email asking how their experience went.

Additional tips:

  • Send a simple yet genuine thank you note.
  • Prioritize both positive and negative interactions.
  • Give customers the option to request a follow up via phone, text, or email.

11. Ask for feedback

Ask for feedback, speak into a microphone

After any customer interaction, be sure to ask for feedback. Doing so can help you solve issues and identify where your team can improve. It may also provide insight into how you can enhance your service or product.

How to put it into practice: Send customers a survey and engage them in a customer advisory board to ask what product or service they like best, what they don’t like, and what can be changed. This makes customers feel important and valued, too.

Additional tips:

  • Create simple polls on social media platforms.
  • Offer a reward to customers who leave feedback.
  • Present pop-up surveys on your website through a chatbot.

12. Exceed customer expectations

Customers already expect you to meet their needs, so it’s essential to go above and beyond to ensure you earn their loyalty. Answer more than just their question when they reach out for more information about your products or services. Offer them a special discount if they’re making a repeat purchase, recommend certain items based on their purchase history, or throw in a freebie to make up for a mistake.

Avoid making promises you can’t keep, though—once you break that trust, it’s hard to get it back.

How to put it into practice: Set up a loyalty program to show customers they’re valued and entice them to keep buying from you. For example, give your customers a discount or free item after they make a certain number of purchases.

Additional tips:

  • Always look for ways to remedy an unpleasant experience.
  • Offer product recommendations based on customer preferences.
  • Provide discounts to repeat buyers to build customer loyalty.

13. Avoid a one-size-fits-all strategy

blocks

Every customer is unique, so don’t use the same strategy each time you try to develop a customer connection. Aim to customize individual interactions to build authenticity and personalization.

How to put it into practice: Treat a customer who’s new to your product differently than a customer who’s been a long-time user. Use different messaging for the two customers because their experiences aren’t the same. The new user may need additional information and support, for example.

Additional tips:

  • Get to know your customers on a personal level so you can better tailor your messaging.
  • Customize each interaction to the specific customer.
  • Know the preferred platform that your customer wants to connect on.

14. Utilize social media

You can also connect with customers on social media. Our CX Trends Report found that the number of support requests on social messaging apps increased by 32 percent last year, so it’s crucial to integrate these platforms into your customer service strategy.

Be sure to meet customers where they are using an omnichannel approach—93 percent of customers will spend more with companies that offer their preferred option to reach customer service.

How to put it into practice: If you see a comment from a customer on social media, respond to them quickly and provide the information they’re requesting. If it’s a negative comment or complaint, ask them to send you a direct message so you can resolve the issue.

Additional tips:

  • Set up a separate social media page dedicated to customer support.
  • Respond to all social media messages—positive and negative.
  • Take sensitive public conversations private by continuing the conversation through direct message.

15. Develop a customer community

customer community, handshake

According to our CX Trends Report, 89 percent of shoppers will spend more with companies that allow them to find answers online without having to contact anyone. That being said, a help center can still enable you to form customer connections, especially when a customer community is a part of it. Customers can learn best practices from their peers.

Creating helpful resources and a place for customers to collaborate and help each other can also reduce the workload for your team. If customers can solve problems independently, they won’t need to contact customer support for help.

How to put it into practice: Create a customer community on your site that has links to frequently asked questions, and give users the option to leave comments or provide feedback.

Additional tips:

  • Include a glossary for definitions surrounding your product or service.
  • Create video tutorials.
  • Write relevant how-to articles.
  • Create an idea exchange where customers can provide product feedback.

16. Maintain the connection

After you interact with the customer, keep the door open for future connections. Proactively engage with your customer at key moments in their customer journey. Tell them to reach out if they have any more questions or concerns. You can also invite them to take advantage of an upcoming promotion.

How to put it into practice: Encourage your customers to join your loyalty program or community. That way, you stay top of mind and incentivize them to come back.

Additional tips:

  • Offer to set up a follow-up call.
  • Send push notifications via a community and targeted emails to keep customers in the loop.
  • Invite your customers to business-related events.

Foster customer connection with Zendesk

Follow our customer connection tips to build lasting relationships with your buyers. To improve the customer experience and track customer conversations, invest in a tool like Zendesk, an easy-to-use and scalable customer service solution.

With Zendesk, you can offer convenient and simple conversational support so customers can get the information they need—anywhere, anytime.

Improve your customer connections

Conversational experiences are key to developing strong customer connections. Learn how to integrate conversational customer support into your strategy so you can deliver high-quality experiences and boost brand loyalty.

Improve your customer connections

Conversational experiences are key to developing strong customer connections. Learn how to integrate conversational customer support into your strategy so you can deliver high-quality experiences and boost brand loyalty.

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