Retailers, including furniture brands, have an exciting opportunity now that more customers are open to sharing first-party data and interacting with brands on various channels. To take advantage of this shift, furniture retailers need to create a communications strategy that builds trust and creates long-term relationships. But first, you’ll need to pay attention to the basics.
In our personal lives, we instinctively get that consent is fundamental to building a quality relationship. Consent is the agreement to interact, and this may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how often this concept is lost when we establish business relationships.
In a time where privacy, security and trust are top-of-mind, it’s critical to have an honest and transparent approach when gathering consent for communicating with customers. That’s the way to build loyalty and create high-value customer relationships. With that in mind, here are 10 tactics you can use to start earning trust and building long-term relationships right now.
1. Do a communications audit.
Conduct an audit to identify every way a customer can interact with your brand. Make sure you capture all channels, including email, text, social media, web forms, etc., so you’ll have a comprehensive view of all touchpoints.
2. Identify first-party data offered at each touchpoint.
Using the audit results, evaluate each touchpoint to see if customers are surrendering data, i.e., giving you information like phone numbers, social media IDs, email addresses, etc. Also, check to see if they are expressing communication preferences, such as preferring texts over calls or vice versa.
3. Make sure you’re capturing data in a structured manner.
Customers provide data in many different ways, including during a conversation via phone or text or even in a chat session. Make sure you have a way to gather the information across all channels and store it safely.
4. Ask customers for consent to collect and use their data to continue the dialogue.
Ask for consent to contact customers, and get their permission to carry on the conversation on as many channels as possible — for example, by asking them to like or join your social page. Asking for consent goes beyond opt-ins; you’ll need details too. So, if you’re getting a phone number, find out if it’s a mobile or landline, and keep in mind that each channel has its own regulations and governing bodies. To stay compliant, consider working with vendors who are channel experts.
5. Be honest and upfront about how you plan to use the data.
This can be tricky because your marketing communication plans may not be fully formed. Do you intend to call customers five times a year or text them twelve times a week? The important point is to be intentional; communicate your intent to customers as honestly as you can in the moment.
6. Start meeting expectations immediately.
If a customer gives you consent to call or text, start doing it right away. In our personal lives, people expect us to reach out if we ask for and receive contact information. It’s no different in business relationships. Marketers might want to wait until they reach a critical mass of data to start a drip marketing campaign or other communication programs, but that’s not fair to the people who shared information earlier. Individuals count, and they have expectations about how and when they want to be contacted, so be sure to meet them.
7. Listen to customers and be candid.
Keep in mind that the ability to understand consumer wants and needs comes from listening to customers, respecting their preferences and being candid about obtaining and using their information. Listening and honoring customers’ wishes creates the trust that allows the relationship to flourish.
8. Measure what matters, including consent capture.
Keep tabs on consent capture metrics, and also keep in mind that from the customer’s perspective, dialog with your retail furniture brand must serve a purpose. Customers will give and take consent when and how it suits them, and you need to build a system that facilitates this.
9. Make it as easy to opt-out as it is to opt-in for communication.
Related to the point above, it’s important to create an environment that allows you to be there for customers only when they want you to be. If they decide they don’t want contact, whether it be because the relationship isn’t a great fit or they don’t need the product right now, make it simple for them to exit the conversation. This not only honors the customers’ wishes, but also keeps you focused on dialogues that drive value for your furniture retail brand.
10. Be genuine and sincere.
Conveying empathy requires a genuine and sincere approach. Words have to match actions. When customers perceive your brand as honest and straightforward, and they see you deliver on your word, they’ll begin to trust you, and that’s when you’ll have an opportunity to create relationships that yield lifetime value.
Communicating with your customers across multiple channels can be a ton of fun. Millions of customers are eager to have a relationship with the brands they love, and this is an excellent opportunity for you to engage with them on a personal level and create the kind of relationship that builds long-term loyalty and drives more revenue for your brand.
The important point to keep in mind is that trust is the foundation, and it’s absolutely possible to create trust if you use these tactics. Some of the tactics are specific to business-customer dialogues, but others are based on the basic tenets of all respectful relationships and should be observed in our personal and professional lives. Leaning into these tactics can help you earn customer trust.