Especially when you’re still in the growth stage, the loss of any client contract is hard to stomach. Even worse, a rough patch when multiple clients jump ship can feel like the end of the world. Where are we going wrong? What are we missing? What if this is just the tip of the iceberg?
First things first if client retention is on your mind: try and put things in perspective. If you’re worried that you need to go back to the drawing board with a complete overhaul with your product offering, try this statistic for size: at almost 70%, the biggest reason why customers leave is not the quality of the product or the price, but because of their perception of the treatment they’ve received.
Some careful tweaking of your client care practices may make all the difference when it comes to client retention – and the digital tools at your disposal can help reduce the legwork involved in this.
Here are three areas to look at…
Email: Check in personally with your clients
Your company prides itself on an open door policy, where clients are encouraged to get in touch the minute an issue arises. So is this enough? Not necessarily. Bear in mind that not all customers are quick to come forward if they are having difficulties, with research suggesting that for every one customer who complains, as many as 26 remain silent.
To make sure your clients remain satisfied, you need to take the lead:
- CEOs should consider a welcome message to the new client once the contract is underway. Make this personal, for instance by referring to the specific issues raised by the client in the sales process and precisely what the client hopes to achieve. Suggest that the client can contact either the account manager or the CEO in the event of a query.
- Check in regularly throughout the course of the contract, with some carefully constructed, personalised email workflows. And don’t be afraid to actually pick up the phone wherever possible. Also, make sure you aren’t just focusing on the stakeholder who closed the deal: try and keep in direct contact with end users as they are the people at the sharp end of any implementation difficulties.
- Give existing clients early notification of updates/improvements/new products. It doesn’t say much about how much you value your existing clients if they find out second hand about your new and improved offerings.
Social: tune in to the wider conversation
When it comes to the services and products we use, we tend to be at our most candid when sharing views with people we know. We’re less likely to hold back in criticism and we’ll perhaps tell others if we’re planning on switching to a new provider. This is why social isn’t just for building brand awareness and generating leads: social channels – including industry-specific forums and groups can offer useful intelligence on what your clients really think about you (and your competitors).
This doesn’t mean having to trawl the web each day on the off chance of finding relevant threads. Tools such as BuzzSumo monitor the web in real time, looking for mentions of your brand across social platforms, blogs and new sites.
Consider smart use of surveys
For a head start on keeping clients on your books, you require a thorough understanding of your clients’ expectations, of what you’re doing right and where there’s room for improvement. For this, a client satisfaction survey is invaluable. A comprehensive survey building tool takes the hassle out of this and should integrate easily with your automated email solution. Beware of going overboard with a ‘batch and blast approach’: you don’t want to spam your clients with constant requests for their views. Instead, consider context and make sure your requests to complete a survey are sent out at a point in time that’s relevant to individual clients. A halfway point through the contract may be a useful starting point as by this time your client is thoroughly familiar with the product.
Follow-up is important too. Don’t just thank clients for taking time to complete the survey, go back to them and point to the changes you’ve made in response to their feedback.