Something I hear quite often from business owners I meet is how much time and energy they spend looking for new clients. It seems to me that they might be spending too much of their time chasing the sale and not enough on keeping their existing clients happy. Consumers these days are more aware, empowered and better connected than ever before and with competitors only a mouse click away, it’s increasingly important for businesses to attract and then retain long-term clients. By creating a great initial experience, demonstrating integrity and addressing your clients changing interests and needs, you increase the likelihood of keeping them over the lifetime of your business.
It starts with demonstrating that you really care. Long-term client retention will happen if you constantly show integrity and dedication to your client’s business. There needs to be consistency between what you say and do and what your clients experience. Your product or service must be of the standard they want, need and expect and service integrity is demonstrated by the way you handle the small things as well as the big. Clients will be attracted to you if you are honest with them, take a genuine interest in their business and don’t let them down. Communicate fully, often and truthfully during transactions and service. Keep them so satisfied that they tell others how good the experience was when doing business with you. This requires exceeding expectation, always providing an immediate response, striving for total satisfaction first time, every time and a consistent delivery of what you promise through an error-free process. Great service means repeat business, whereas poor service will drive your clients to the competition.
Most businesses invest an enormous amount of time, effort and expense in building an initial client relationship. Some then let that relationship go unattended straight after the sale has been made and pretty soon the client is unimpressed and goes elsewhere. They have to then spend more money to replace them. It’s much better to retain clients than to constantly be searching for new ones because acquiring a new client is many times more costly than retaining one. There’s a big difference between the one-off profit you might make on an average sale, and the total profit your client represents over the lifetime of their business relationship with you. Once you recognise how much combined profit a client makes your business when they purchase from you again and again, over many months, years or decades you’ll realise just how important they are, and the more times a client purchases from you, the stronger your relationship becomes. It’s these relationships that make clients champion your products and services, creating powerful referrals and word-of-mouth marketing. So, the easiest way to grow your business is by not losing any of your clients in the first place.
Once you understand just how important keeping clients is and then how much time, effort and expense you can afford to invest in retaining them, you’ll be better able to plan your marketing expenditure. With the use of a Client Relationship Management (CRM) system you can compile information on clients across different marketing channels. This will help you identify client retention and engagement strategies that are worth pursuing such as loyalty programs or questionnaires and surveys. It’s a good way to gain service improving feedback at the same time as keeping your brand top of mind with them. By putting a system in place that allows you to measure and communicate the value your product or service has delivered, the better chance you’ll have of keeping a client over the lifetime of your business.