How To Develop A Good Relationship With Your Customers


Retail is a fickle business. You can forecast your numbers, surf the trend tides, and roll out new products, but at the end of the day (or fiscal period), your customers are the foundation of your business.

Customer relationship building is the key to keeping your business relevant, attracting more clientele, and, most importantly, making money.

But these relationships don’t work well if they’re simply built for the purpose of funneling more people and money in to your store. Here are five genuine ways to build a standing relationship with your customers:

1. Get To Know Names and Faces

Your shop doesn’t have to be Cheers, but this one is really a no-brainer. It’s pretty hard to have a relationship with a customer if you don’t even know who they are.

SEE ALSO: Retail SMBs Have Much To Learn From Starbucks

Recognizing your regulars should be easy–they’re the people you see ALL the time! There’s almost no excuse to not know their names or to have at least attempted to get to know them.

Introduce yourself. Make an effort to acknowledge them when they come in to shop. Strike up a conversation.

2. Have Non-Work-Related Conversations

How are your kids? How was work? Any plans for the weekend?

Get some real talk going. Just because your customer is shopping doesn’t mean they only want to hear a sales pitch. You should get to know your regulars—they’re usually the ones driving the cash flow for your shop!

Your customers are just as human as you and your staff, and developing a relationship with them that goes deeper than their wallet is a solid way to ensure return business and referrals.

3. Get To Know Their Habits

This might sound cheesy or even a bit creepy, but knowing how your customers function is key to not only developing a friendship with them, but tailoring your sales to fit their interests.

Connecting with customers via social media is one way to track trends, habits, and interests, but a face-to-face interaction is even better.

Body language and tone of voice are some of the best indicators as to how your customer feels about something. Why not capitalize on that for your business while also chatting with your customer?

4. Bring in Products They’ve Asked About Or You Think They Might Like

This should be a basic strategy for retail shops, but it’s surprising how set-in-their-ways some places can be. Do you have a customer who is always asking about a particular service? Is there a kitchen gadget that’s trending? Did you stumble across some accessories that would complement some of your regular shoppers?

SEE ALSO: Your Sales Tactics Are Boring

Bringing in new items excites customers: it’s shiny, it’s different, it’s perfect for so-and-so. New items can be a bit of a gamble, but that’s one more reason your customers are so important: real-time market research.

If you have a good relationship with a regular, they’re more likely to open up to you or an employee about what they like or don’t like about the shop. Take their criticism as you will, but it’s definitely a unique way for businesses to scale or correct their practices and goods.

5. Feature Your Customers

This is a tactic that might not work in all retail settings, but does work really well in the food industry. Many customers are creatures of habit: same store, same time, same thing.

Featuring a “Customer of the Month” gives your business an opportunity to feature a great customer and their favorite product (hello, marketing!) and makes your customer feel appreciated.


Developing long-lasting, solid relationships with your customers is the best way to ensure great word-of-mouth marketing, maintain returning customers, and explore new products and services for your business. Get to know your regulars and the new shoppers by simply saying, “Hello!”

RELATED: 5 Ways To Enhance Your Business’ Natural Likability

Image: iStockphoto

About The Author

Laura Whitener is the managing editor of Firmology, technology focused news and insight for small business owners and online entrepreneurs. Laura graduated from DePaul’s notable Master of Writing and Publishing program in Chicago. She survives on coffee, apples, and Pandora.

When she isn’t editing or writing, Laura enjoys knitting, adding to her massive book collection, and culinary adventures.

You can find Laura on Twitter and LinkedIn.