Keeping clients for life

You’ve heard it before but it’s worth repeating – it costs more to find and sell to new customers than to keep current ones.

You’ve heard it before but it’s worth repeating – it costs more to find and sell to new customers than to keep current ones.

This truism is particularly important for professional firms that often find sales and marketing a greater challenge than commercial enterprises. Add a slow economy into the mix and it’s probably time to take a hard look at the perfect soft sell – the customer experience.

Improve customer experience

Every person in your firm who interacts with customers affects client retention. Small things like answering your phone properly may not earn you points, but do it poorly and you’ll certainly lose some. Everyone in your business should be focused on making sure all customers have a great experience. You can help them by:

  • Being a role model – deliver high quality customer care yourself.
  • Treating your staff with courtesy and respect – then they’ll treat your customers that way.
  • Putting customer experience on the agenda for discussion at staff meetings – to ensure your staff understand the level of customer care you expect and how important it is to your business.
  • Training your staff so they know how to handle complaints that do arise.
  • Focusing on quality in all aspects of your practice.
  • Calling staff members and customers by name.
  • Being authentic with your staff and your customers.

Value-added services

There are things you can do that won’t cost your business a lot of money, but can have a significant impact on how your customers view your firm. Here are some things to consider:

  • Find ways for clients to save time and money.
  • Offer coffee, tea, water or mints at reception.
  • Provide product samples.
  • Have educational material on your website.
  • Include links to relevant information outside your business.
  • Give reminders of when a customer may want your services again.
  • Send a thank-you note to new clients for their business, and to your loyal customers who refer new business to you.

Continually communicate

To keep customers it’s important they remember the positive experience they had with you. Find gentle ways to stay in front of your customers so that you’re top of mind when they need you again. For example, you could:

  • Produce a regular newsletter.
  • Participate in relevant events.
  • Send email news updates about your business.
  • Participate in relevant social networking websites.

Foster lifelong staff

One effective strategy that can help your business retain customers for longer, and possibly for life, is to create an environment where your staff want to continue being employed by you over their working lives.

Treat your staff members as you would customers – foster a workplace where your staff can:

  • Enjoy their jobs.
  • Be creative.
  • Add value through their own contributions.
  • Get to know customers as if they were friends or family.
  • Continue learning while on the job.

Take the time to ask customers what they think about your business. This can be done casually in conversation, or in a questionnaire. What’s important is that you get feedback to improve your firm, while letting customers know that you’re genuinely concerned about their satisfaction.

Next steps