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Right now, 58% of businesses label their relationships with customers as something they are currently working to improve. It’s no secret – Happy customers are vital to overall business success. Creating happy customers starts with building and nurturing positive relationships.

Businesses continue to look for new and innovative ways to make these relationships unbreakable. Unfortunately, a number of businesses get to a point where they are so focused on being efficient that they push their customers out the door without realizing it.

So how do you stop efficiency from ruining effective customer relationships?

Efficiency is bad … sometimes

Efficiency is important in many aspects of a business. Being efficient helps deliver results quickly while spending less money doing it. How can the efficiency concept be bad? The truth is that as businesses continue to look for ways to improve by cutting costs and cutting sales times, they are ignoring the value in relationship building. Customers feel neglected and look for another business to deliver the relationship they crave.

Reasons not to be efficient

Here are three significant reasons you need to stop focusing on efficiency in customer relationship management.

  1. Self-centered. If you worked hard to create an efficient customer service/relationship plan, that’s great – but who does it really benefit? Chances are you created an efficient process based on your needs, NOT the needs of your customers. While it is beneficial to you for a customer to submit questions online, it might not always be beneficial to the customer based on their needs.
  2. Just a number. Businesses with an overly automated customer relationship process leave customers feeling like a number. Today, customers WANT real relationships with businesses. They want you to pick up the phone, know their name, and their history. Why? Because it’s less work for them, they feel valued, and they feel appreciated.
  3. Decreased sales. When the customer relationship is automated, sales decrease. It is easier for customers to say no to automation than it is to a real person.

Making the change

Follow these four steps to reinvent your existing customer relationship strategy. Make it more about the customer and less about you.

  1. Redefine your vision. Revisit your business vision. What does it state? Is there anything about relationships? If not, it’s time to redefine what your long-term vision is. If you are not there for the customer, chances are you won’t be around long.
  2. Grade your customers. Break your customers into four distinct groups by “grades.” Rate your best customers “A” and your worst customers “D.” You can base this on sales, difficulty, etc. After you have levels, determine how much interaction your team needs to make with the different levels.
  3. Set measurable goals. You can track measurable goals. Strong goals include measuring retention, sales, or repeat customers. This helps you see how the shift impacts your sales and income.
  4. Educate your team. Make sure your team is on board! You can’t create success without their involvement and buy-in to the changes.

Stop letting efficiency get in the way of building strong customer relationships. Focus on customer needs instead of your own to improve your overall business success.