Building strong customer relationships sounds cliched. No business will attribute their success to treating their customers like dirt.
While global-scale fashion businesses like LVMH slice and dice their data with sophisticated analytical tools to understand their customers, Yoki avoided the data-driven, quantitative approach with Cravar. Besides, Cravar did not have the substantial expertise and funds required to pull this off.
Instead, Yoki chose to apply what he calls “analytics at a human level”, recognising he could build and sustain personal relationships with each of his customers. Cravar would stick by the truism:
The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.
Nevertheless, as a start-up lacking the product development and marketing firepower of the big brands, Yoki recognised the real risk that some of their products could fall flat with their customers.
However, providing the type of white-glove service typically reserved for products at far-higher price points was entirely within Cravar’s purview.
Yoki developed nurturing relationships with each of his customers, going beyond dispensing product care advice, to sharing the ups and downs of their personal lives.
Yoki also created a prominent online space for his customers to foster a sense of community by sharing their experiences with the Cravar brand. Thus, Cravar’s Instagram page showcases more customer submissions than brand-created content.
In describing their framework for building customer relationships to weather the COVID-19 pandemic, professors Ted Waldron and James Wetherbe of Texas Tech University’s Rawls College of Business described five key strategies businesses can use to preserve their customer relationships throughout a crisis. They summarise these strategies with the so-called HEART framework, i.e.
Humanize your company
Educate about change
Tackle the future
Yoki attributes the human relationships he built with his customers kept Cravar afloat throughout the pandemic. The late-night chats he’d had with his customers over the years created a sense of reciprocity in his customers.
Years of speaking and listening to his customers meant Yoki could count on his customers being receptive to his regular updates on how Cravar was doing during the pandemic. They listened. They understood what Cravar was going through. They empathised with Yoki’s efforts to keep Cravar going and accepted his reassurances that Cravar wasn’t going anywhere.
The result of Cravar’s years-long effort to create an unshakable rapport with their customers? Sales from repeat customers more than doubled in 2020.