Customer retention and customer loyalty are often touted as the absolute keys to building a business that is successful over the long term. The first step towards these goals revolves around good customer relations. If you can’t have good relationships with your customers, it doesn’t matter how good your product is; your customers will go somewhere else. These rules will help you establish – and maintain – good customer relations.

1. Be A Human Being

There’s a tendency to try and make marketing one-size fits all, and to use scripts and talking points to make sure that all customers get the same information. These approaches are often meant to ensure consistency and minimize bias.

But they can easily end up making your customer service reps sound robotic instead of human. The same can be true with your social media programs, email outreach, and more. Starting from a place of sending the same sort of (professional!) kinds of communications that you would want to receive as a customer will put you on the right track.

2. Keep Email Outreach Reasonable

Some companies are committed to producing several social media posts across many different channels as well as an email outreach every day. There may be times when this is appropriate – at a huge launch, for example – but most of the time, it benefits the company to try and keep your email outreach at a reasonable level. We all know what it’s like to be bombarded with emails every day about sales, coupons, special offers, and amazing events. Over time, it starts to feel like we’re not particularly special, and those emails get sent to spam.

To make sure your customers are opening your emails, send them sparingly. Keep an eye on your analytics and figure out when they’re most likely to be opened, acted upon, and appropriately used. Send your most important communications via email, and do your best to make them compelling and engaging so that they’re opened and consumed.

3. Create Opportunities For Inbound Marketing

Outbound marketing – marketing that goes from you to the customer – is crucial, and is an important way to get the word out about your company. Ads, word of mouth campaigns, and more can help customers know you exist in the first place.

But once your company is doing well in SERP and social media contacts, the next step is to make sure that your customers can market to themselves. This sounds counterintuitive, but part of creating great customer relations in the modern market is letting customers find the information they need on their own. Build a website with amazing FAQs, great video tutorials, comprehensive product information, and ways to get a hold of you other than calling.

Modern customers expect to be able to find out any information they need without interacting with a customer. Making that possible for them will help them build a great relationship with your business.

4. Truly Want To Do Better

People – and companies – make mistakes. There’s an assumption that making a single mistake will doom your business forever, but how you handle your mistake can often make a big difference in how your audience reacts. This is true both internally and externally. Have a plan in place for how to respond to whatever could happen.

In a world that expects instantaneous responses, having a plain old “We’re investigating this event and will get back to you quickly” just doesn’t seem to be enough. Know what kind of message your company wants to send when mistakes happen, from a product doesn’t arrive on time to when a company attracts national attention.

5. Hire The Best Employees

A business is only as good as its employees. Payroll is one of the biggest costs a company can have, and when upper management starts to look at cutting expenses, payroll is often one of the first places to trim. Don’t give in to this temptation; unless you are absolutely sure you have employees who are totally unnecessary, cutting payroll is rarely a good idea. Most of the time, cutting payroll means hiring less qualified employees or cutting back on raises and benefits. Neither of these decisions will make for employees who are happy, and unhappy employees lose productivity and offer poor customer service.

Neither of these decisions will lead to positive customer relationships.

To build great customer relationships for your business and your brand, it’s important to ultimately treat your customers well, be respectful of their time, and make sure that they’re getting what they need from your company. This means knowing a good deal about them and what they need so that you can meet that need. They’ll thank you for it.