How do SMEs manage customer relationships?
How do businesses with no physical contact with their clients manage customer relationships?
I guess one thing that's greatly in favour of those who don't interact with customers IRL is that so much of managing customer relationships is done online, no matter what your company is. Perhaps having a personal touch is slightly harder but even that can be overcome, I think. I guess it still boils down to really paying attention to your customers and making sure they know you take note of their goals/interests/opinions etc.
I have a mix of clients, both local, regional, interstate and global.
The local ones I meet in person most of the time (not all), the rest I make sure I use the telephone a lot more as well as Skype and video messaging.
With video messaging, sometimes I choose to do a video over an email, that way they receive more of a personal touch.
When I travel I make the effort to see my clients, even if there is not a scheduled appointment I will drop in and say hello, or take them out for coffee for a simple relationship building session.
Another thing we do well which helps immensely is create community with our clients, this way the business is bigger than us and our clients feel supported by each other and the environment we have created for them.
I have a lot of clients who don't meet their customers at all. All sales are done online. If communication is to be done online speed and knowledge is key. Speed of response is absolutely critical and the ability to be willing to solve the problem even if you are wrong because a bad review cause lose sales like you never believe. If you also have a sales/ inquiry phone number then make sure it is manned and response times are quick.
I don't know how they do. Often one real meet, call or skype conference in the beginning will be enough to cement that lasting relationship for future communications when email will be the norm.
If your selling products via an online store you can reach out to your customers by sending them a satisfaction survey. You could reach out to them with thank you messaged including a discount voucher for their next purchase.
There are so many way to communicate with your customers when you don't have physical contact with them.
It all comes down to the type of relationship you want/need with your customers. In some cases having online portals is needed, support desks or a simple email is needed.
Most of my customers will call me if they need anything. However there is nothing stopping you from calling them if you believe it is necessary. Not all customers want to have a chat, some just want to make a purchase and move on with their day.
I am always travelling and at the moment I am overseas, however my clients can still call a local number if they want to speak directly with me. It just comes down to making sure you have the correct systems setup and software to ensure your customers don't feel like you have left them in the dark.
Providing a good service/product is usually enough to retain most customers though.