File image: IOL.
File image: IOL.
Picture: 7 steps to retain your clients. (Zeenat Vallie).
Picture: 7 steps to retain your clients. (Zeenat Vallie).

CAPE TOWN - Customer relations within a business can be hard work. Develop South Africa provides 7 simple steps on how to effectively manage customer relations. 

CEO of Develop South Africa, Marc Pillay says that operational concerns may overshadow customer relations. However, customer relations remains an integral part of any business. Although it may come naturally to some, others battle with effectively managing their customers. 

We take a look at 7 simple steps provided by Develop South Africa to ensure that you maintain a professional business. 

1. Establish common ground with customers and make a positive first impression

It is important to take time to make your customer feel worthy. This is said to be equally important as professionalism. If a customer feels valued, they will not hesitate to conduct business with you again. 

The first step is to find common ground. If there is a shared interest, this acts as a good ice-breaker. 

2. Always address the customer using their name

Businesses that work with several customers on a daily basis should bear in mind that customers want to be taken seriously. An investor does not only want to receive a product or service. They also want to feel appreciated. To do this, simply address the person by his or her name. 

3. Show genuine interest in the customer

Approach your customers the way you would someone you know well. The customer will pick up on your general interest in them. This way, they will not feel like another figure on the balance sheet. 

4. Asking is good, but listening is better

The main rule is that customers should speak for approximately 60 to 70 percent of the conversation whilst the salesperson should speak for the remaining 30 to 40 percent. 

As a salesperson, hold back your in-depth knowledge for a moment and ask the customer three questions:

- The target question: What do you expect from the product/service?

- The understanding question: What does the product/service mean to you?

- The value question: What is important to you about the product/service?

5.  Differences of opinion can be used to your advantage to ensure that there is nothing standing in the way of making a sale

Difference in opinion is unique to human beings. However, this does not have to be to the detriment of a sale. The important thing to bear in mind is that you should try to understand the customer’s train of thought. 

6. Focus on customer value

Although technical jargon is key to promoting the product at hand, this can become overwhelming to the customer. 

Therefore, you should try to use the customer’s dialect or direct words and show them the benefits of the product. This is more effective. 

7. Like the customer, win the customer

Dealing with customers can be challenging. This is especially true because some customer’s demand may be difficult to read. 

However, a positive can-do attitude can ease the tension when dealing with difficult customers. 

Also make use of nonverbal communication. Aspects such as these can be helpful if you want to accept your customer as they are and offer them professional advice.

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