In a recent article featured on Inc.’s website titled, “7 Secrets to Building Customer Relationships That Will Last for Life,” contributor James Kerr discusses how businesses can create a strong, enduring customer base.

“It takes less effort and investment for a business to maintain an existing client than it does for it to cultivate a new one,” writes Kerr in the article. “But, creating a customer for life is no easy task. It takes hard work and commitment in order to establish the kinds of customer bonds that cannot be broken.”

In the article, Kerr offers seven crucial guidelines to create long-lasting customer relationships:

  • Establish an honest culture. Startups must commit to establishing a company culture built on “mutual respect among staff and the undisputed integrity of its leadership team” to build a business customers can trust. Trust for any relationship is imperative.
  • Adopt an “us-centered” style of leadership. A business team must feel like everyone is in it together to “consistently deliver an exceptional customer experience.” New and existing businesses should adopt a leadership style centered around “us” so that employees feel that they are a part of the team.
  • Instill a team-based operating model. “More team-based operating models are far more nimble and agile than ones that are hierarchical and have managers managing managers within them,” says Kerr in the article. Move toward a flatter, team-based structure to help lock in customers through enhanced responsiveness.
  • Delight customers. Make sure employees are prepared to do what it takes to “delight” customers. Set an example and help them to delight by coaching and training them.
  • Create an aligned compensation model. Align your business’ vision with your compensation model. This will help ensure the right performance measurements are in place to attain the desired behavior changes among your team.
  • Build “customer-centric” growth propositions. Steer growth by delivering perceived value to customers. Transform prospects into customers by understanding their wants and needs. “Customers will gravitate and ‘stick’ when they feel that you understand them and can deliver what they need on a consistent basis,” shares Kerr in the article.
  • Develop brand value. “You want your business to be seen as one that keeps its promises, delivers results, provides flawless service and exceeds all expectations,” advises Kerr in the article. Build those messages into your business’ brand and back them up through execution.

Read the entire article on building a robust customer base here.