A key part of a company’s success comes from having a robust customer base and being able to hold good relationships with top stakeholders, or executive champions, on the client side. Strong relationships are what every company needs to have in order to excel in their line of business. The ability to consistently maintain positive connections with clients is often what will set a company apart from its competitors and give them a leg up. It may sound challenging at first, but there a few ways you can go about relationship building to make sure you get it right:

Actively Listen

A very effective way to maintain relationships with customers is to actively listen to them. It’s always good to ask clients for their feedback on your performance to see how they feel about their overall experience with you; it shows that you are willing to listen and learn from them. Their input will also help ensure that you improve their experience with your firm and find solutions to any problems they may have. Carefully process what they have to say, and be sure to have an effective response at the ready. You can start the active listening process by implementing a social media listening program, sending out customized surveys to clients to gather their feedback, or simply by talking with them in person.

Be Honest

As the adage goes, honesty is the best policy. When trying to maintain relationships with customers, it’s important to be sincere. It’s very easy to tell when a company is being disingenuous and it can easily turn customers off. If a customer is having issues with a service or product provided by your company, the last thing you want to provide them with is an empty promise. Instead, be transparent and find an effective solution that will work for them.

Exceed Expectations

When a customer comes to your company for a product or service, they are expecting a great experience. Your job is to make sure it ends up being even better than what they may have expected. By raising the bar on what your company has to offer, you will gain a competitive edge and build trust and confidence with your client. A few ways to exceed expectations include delivering the product/service faster, requesting their feedback in real-time, and/or finding ways to implement any suggestions they may have. Going the extra mile for a customer will not only ensure that you build a strong, professional relationship — it will also help you to maintain trust with the client for the long term.

Stay in Contact

The best way to nurture customer relationships over time is to keep in touch with them. Don’t just deliver clients a great service — proactively add to their service experience by checking in with them on a regular basis. A few ways you could do this could be by sending them a holiday card, congratulating them on a positive change that has been made to their business, or even just by having a phone call with them to see how things are going and if they’d be interested in additional products or features. While keeping in touch, show them your appreciation for their business. Offer loyalty discounts as a way of saying thank you. This kind of extra effort and show of appreciation can go a long way.

Maintaining customer relationships can be difficult at times, but it is much easier than it seems. Just by taking a few extra steps and putting in a bit more effort, you can ensure that you keep loyal customers happy. Their happiness will be a very powerful asset to you, as your customers are your best advocates and often are the best references when it comes to generating new business. Strong customer relationships will give your company a competitive and strategic edge, and will catapult you into a league of your own.