So you’ve spent a lot of time and effort winning that new client. You paid for some good marketing to be done in order to attract them. You devoted many months to getting to know them and creating a service that would solve the problems they have. Your sales process worked beautifully and now they have finally agreed to come into the fold and become one of your clients. Congratulations! You can relax now and focus on winning the next new client … or can you?!
Far too many business owners put a great deal of emphasis on taking on new clients. They look at their cash flow forecast and their eyes light up when they see the effect on their bottom line of taking on a brand new client. If you sell low cost products, then you need a high volume of new clients all the time, to maintain a healthy cash flow. But if you sell a service, or high value products, then it’s actually far more important – and cost effective – to look after the clients that you have and develop long term relationships with them. Too many businesses focus on Strategies 3 and 4 in the diagram below – promoting their products and services to new clients – when they actually need to spend most of their time in Strategy 1. This is where you build a loyal fan base of clients who will keep buying from you for many years, giving you a much better return on your marketing and helping you to build a more sustainable business.
How Do You Build this Loyal Fan Base?
Here are some simple suggestions for keeping your clients happy and developing strong relationships with them:
- Provide excellent customer service. This sounds obvious, but too many businesses don’t spend enough time thinking about how they can delight their clients. Do things for your clients before they ask you to do them – this shows that you really understand their needs and are proactively looking after them. Fix problems as soon as they arise and take responsibility. Unhappy clients who are looked after properly when things go wrong often turn into the most loyal fans who will tell everyone else how great you are.
- Keep in touch with your clients. Just because they’re not complaining, or because you speak to clients on a regular basis, don’t assume that everything is OK and that they don’t need anything else from you. Call your clients now and then just to have a chat. Take them out for coffee or lunch, or invite them to events, so that you can spend time with them in a non-sales environment and get to know them better. It shows them that you care and that you’re happy to listen to them.
- Send your clients useful information. Write a regular newsletter, or post blogs on your website and tell your clients when you do. Fill your articles with useful advice that your clients don’t have to pay for, to help them in their businesses. Be generous and willing to share your knowledge and expertise with your clients.
- Recommend your clients. Look for other businesses that need the services of your clients and connect them. While it’s not really your job to promote your clients (unless you’re a Marketing Consultant), you can still delight and support them by connecting them to other businesses who want to buy from them. This shows that you know them well and that you understand how they help their clients.
- Treat your top clients like royalty. Send them Christmas cards – hand written with a personal note in them; send them Birthday cards; give them flowers when they have a baby or sad news. Surprise them with suitable gifts, such as relevant business books or tickets to a networking event. Treat each one as an individual.
Winning a new client can be exciting, but for the long term stability of your business, you need to spend as much time looking after them, once you’ve taken them on. Think about how you can really get to know each client and how you can support their business, so that you become an integral part of their team. When they rely on you for your service and you do you absolute best to look after them, you’ll see how their loyalty develops and how that can support the long term stability of your business.
How good are you at keeping your clients? If you’re struggling and you need some advice about how to improve your customer service or how to keep in touch with your clients, call Jonathan Lane on 07503 891 331 or Patrick Doyle on 07425 150 238, or click here to email us to find out how we can help you.