Each customer interaction, in-person as well as online, is an opportunity to build a lasting relationship. It's important to remember that B2C relationships parallel person-to-person relationships in the most basic way: Everyone wants to be shown a little love.
Single touchpoints occur all the time. For example, you might need a cup of sugar from your neighbor. However, it takes multiple touchpoints and interactions to develop a true relationship. For instance, before you call your neighbor your trusted friend, you might help him dig his car out of the snow, your children may play in each other's yards, he might come to your barbecue, and so forth.
B2C relationships are similar. Focusing all of your customer relationship energy on the sale may result in short-term gains. However, if you then proceed to neglect other stages of your customer lifecycle (customer support, service, renewal, etc.), you've lost out on a huge opportunity to make a life-long, loyal customer.
The importance of the customer lifecycle
Forrester recommendsthat organizations ditch the traditional marketing funnel and replace it with a process that builds an ongoing relationship with the customer: the Customer Life Cycle.
As customer experience expertAnnette Franzemphasizes, the moment of sale is not the stopping point when it comes to your customers: "Discounts might be working well to bring customers in the door, but do they stay after they're in? Can you keep those that you acquire? Are you creating a precedence that is not sustainable?"
In other words, if you are simply focused on getting a sale but not on building a long-term relationship then you are making a big mistake.
In it for the long haul
The truth of the matter is that customers aren't looking for you to provide stunning customer experiences. They just want to know that you are a dependable, honest company that is willing to communicate regularly with them and provide strong service and support when needed. They want sales, marketing, and service to be transparent and easy. Customer care needs to be reliable across all stages.
If a company is only looking at the sales side of things, they're giving off the message that they aren't practicing "customer love." Instead, they're just using their customers to impact their bottom lines without providing much long-term value in return. And really, if a company isn't dedicated to helping you out, why should you be loyal to them? Why would you return when you're viewed as a number or another sale?
Once you've made the sale, your relationship with the customer has only just begun. Now you have to ensure that you live up to everything you promised.
The right tools for each situation
Targeting and acquiring customers is definitely a starting point, but you must then continue to provide a positive experience through onboarding, supporting, growing, and retaining your customers. The way you treat your customers after the sale is the way you set up the relationship for the rest of the customer lifecycle.
Ensuring your customers' needs are met at each stage may require utilizing a number of different tools at different times. Moreover, while at some points customers may be able to self-serve, there will also be times when you will need to connect directly with your customers.
Be sure you provide an easy means to move from self-serve to personal assistance, across a variety of channels, so you can meet your customers where they prefer.
Show Your Customers Love
If you show your customers love, they will show you love in return. By nurturing customers throughout the length of the customer life cycle, you can ensure a happier, loyal customer who is willing to return in the future. And if you build long-term relationships based on true customer love, you will enable your organization to grow.