I believe that client retention is absolutely key to the success of your continued business growth and development.
A client’s loyalty to you, your team and your brand over long periods of time showcases your businesses success like no other and becomes very attractive to new and potential clients.
In the changing world that we live in, your clients won’t hesitate to go elsewhere if they’re not happy, so keeping them happy is essential!
Here are five top tips to keeping your clients, including lessons in what you need to avoid.
Understand their value
…and by value, I don’t just mean revenue, but the value of their business as a client too – how important they are to your brand and your reputation. Existing clients are your best advocate, so treat them well! It takes years to build a relationship, but seconds to damage one.
A happy client is one that is valued and appreciated, it’s a client that is regularly shown that you work hard for them and always in their best interest. Your happy client believes that you are known to be fair and always deliver – in return they won’t hesitate to refer business to you and enthuse about your offering – in fact, they’re one of your best marketing tools!
Not understanding the value of your working relationship is business suicide; if you thought good news travels fast, bad news travels at top speed, and a client that’s not had the level of service that they have come to know and expect will soon go off your business and look elsewhere without a second thought.
Build their trust
Trust is essential in every business relationship, and if you say you’re going to do something, do it!
It’s tough out there. Competition at every turning trying to get in on your clients action and use their ideas, so building trust based relationships with your clients will make them feel secure and confident in your service to them.
Don’t take them for granted
Ever thought ‘they won’t mind if it’s a bit late, they know that’s not our style normally’ or ‘I know we should meet them quarterly, but they know how we work, so let’s leave it this quarter and meet them next’ – stop immediately! You’re taking them for granted!
Taking a client for granted is not acceptable, you’re taking advantage of their good nature and that’s an absolute no no! The service you provide to your client, no matter what their spend with you, should be reviewed periodically, and you should keep in touch with them on a regular basis, even if there’s no activity due for a period of time. It keeps you top of mind and they know that they’re not being taken for granted.
Try to give a bit extra
Going the extra mile will always be noticed, and if there’s an opportunity to do so, make sure to. All businesses are tightening their belt, needing to demonstrate the resulting value of consultancy/products/services, so where there’s a little extra to give, give it.
You want to ensure that your working relationship is always renewed after review, so delivering a little extra will be a quick win all round…and may lead to you receiving even more business from them!
Don’t rely on them to always be the same
No matter how long you’ve been working with them, you will have a good understanding of how your clients work, their behaviour, their business focuses and so on, but don’t rely on them to always be the same and become complacent with your offering to them.
Clients will look to you to provide them with the best possible service that you can offer – and that’s not just from a customer service point of view, it’s also from a products/services perspective too; ensuring you keep track of their business focus will enable you to adjust your offering to them accordingly, and pre-empting their needs will put you in good stead to keeping their business for a long time.
You may have been offering a service that could benefit them for years, but if they don’t know about it, they will go elsewhere – which will be hugely frustrating if you were to find out!
Be flexible too. A client may go through a bad patch – perhaps they have lost a number of clients or cash flow is tight – rather than writing them off, look for an opportunity to adjust your service to them to still benefit them. Support them where you can rather than lose them altogether – you’ll be remembered for it.
As said, your existing clients are your biggest advocates and your best marketing strategy – always remember that! Value them, never take advantage of them, let them gain your trust, and ensure that you review your offering to them frequently to ensure it’s what they need.
Natalie Lovett is director of The Whitewed Directory.