An outside view of a smiling saleswoman handing a shopping bag to a female customer at checkout.
Today's customers want a personalized experience. Polling customers and hosting events are two examples of how entrepreneurs can stay attuned to their customers' needs. — Getty Images/Maskot

A business is nothing without its customers — that’s why establishing relationships with your customer base is crucial to your business’s success. Brands that build relationships with their customers will find that consumers appreciate having their concerns and needs acknowledged, adding a personal touch to the customer’s experience with the brand.

Here are six ways to get to know your customers better.

Be active on social media

Social media is a great tool for conducting market research, learning more about your audience, and establishing and growing your brand’s reputation. By opening the lines of communication via social media and providing valuable content to your audience, customers can get to know your brand in a more intimate and personal way, which can lead to increased customer engagement.

Brands can grow their social media audience by acting as thought leaders online for their industry, sharing their knowledge and resources that may be valuable to target consumers. This can, in turn, attract new customers and foster deeper relationships with existing ones.

[Read: 6 Winning (and Adaptable) Customer Acquisition Strategies From Growing Brands]

Create a survey

Conducting surveys is an effective method for learning about customers’ preferences regarding the products or services. Through a series of targeted questions, brands can discover their customers' likes and dislikes and determine how their audience is receiving their offerings. This information can then guide product/service development in a way that better serves their target audience’s needs.

You can conduct surveys online in various ways, including free offerings, such as SurveyMonkey and Typeform, or through polling features on social media. Brands can also conduct surveys in person or at the point of purchase. Regardless of how it’s conducted, a survey can effectively make customers feel as though they have a voice in the product/service, leading to a closer connection to your brand.

Host an event

Modern-day customers are not only looking for personalized content/messaging but also for personalized experiences. Customers want to support brands that provide value to them and care about their individual needs. Hosting an event is a great way to demonstrate your brand’s value, promote its identity, and gain traction with new audiences.

Hold classes, workshops, webinars, or an open forum either online or in person, and create space for customers to ask questions. Doing so will allow your customers to become acquainted with and interact with your brand face-to-face, learning more about your products or services, as well as your company mission and values, which can win them over.

Plus, hosting events offers cross-promotional opportunities for businesses, as they can partner with other businesses to grow their customer base and strengthen ties with other entrepreneurs in their community.

Customers want to feel appreciated, as an individual, and they want to know that their business matters.

Read and respond to positive and negative reviews

Businesses should read and respond to reviews promptly to understand how consumers view their business. Reviews — both positive and negative — help businesses understand the customer experience and uncover shortcomings that may be hindering its success they are not aware of. Additionally, customer reviews highlight what the brand is doing right that customers would like to see more of.

Responding to reviews humanizes your brand, builds trust, and demonstrates your commitment to offering the best experience possible to customers; however, brands should ensure their responses are professional, well-written, and respectful. Poorly written or rude responses negatively impact business, damage your reputation, and hurt relationships with customers.

[Read: Customer Complaints: 5 Tips for Handling Unsatisfied Clients]

Start a conversation

Talking to customers is a direct, yet effective way to get to know them and make them feel valued. By connecting with customers through conversation — be it in person or via social media — brands can reach their audience to learn valuable information that can be used to improve the business.

Promoting user-generated content can add to the conversation, as consumers respond strongly to other customers’ experiences. According to Bizrate Insights, 54.7% of customers read a minimum of four reviews before purchasing a product. Having customer buy-in engenders credibility and trust within a brand, and consumers are more likely to feel confident purchasing from you even if it’s their first time buying your goods or services based on the positive reviews of others.

Personalize deals and discounts

Offering personalized deals and discounts, such as birthday and anniversary discounts, loyalty programs, and deals based on prior purchases, can attract your target audience and keep customers returning. Customers want to feel appreciated, as an individual, and they want to know that their business matters — you can achieve these aims by providing a personalized experience and tailoring promotions to suit your audience’s needs.

Personalization can also help brands highlight the products/services customers value most, making consumers feel understood rather than just being another number to the business. By finding ways to reach customers on a personal level, you can boost your sales and customer engagement.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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