Getting new business is one thing. Keeping it is another. Currently, the US corporate model seems to run counter-intuitive to the fundamental concept of client/customer retention. Many companies put on a show to get new people in the door, then do nothing to keep them.
This model may work for a while in the corporate sector, however, entrepreneurs, particularly those in relationship-sensitive areas, need to expend reasonable effort to keep clients happy and in the pipeline as long as possible.
Notice I said reasonable. Obviously, clients who behave—or pay—badly need to be reviewed in another light. But, for the most part, it’s easier, more profitable, and less stressful to maintain a stable, happy client base.
Here are four bedrock steps to help retain clients:
- Establish at the outset where the client stands on the “order-taker to highly-opinionated” continuum when it comes to their overall decision-making personality. Based on where the client stands, decide if you can live by their rules. Some clients want to be challenged. Others just want to have someone who will execute at their direction. Regardless of what they say, watch how they respond, and refine your approach accordingly.
- Don’t provide money surprises. One of the top reasons we lose clients is inability to stay on budget. Provide well-thought-out estimates and a mechanism for handling unforeseen developments. The idea here is to set the stage early on, then work within a mutually agreeable framework.
- Eliminate inherent conflicts of interest. It’s critical that clients believe you have their best interests—not yours—at heart.
- Perform random acts of kindness. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, do something nice for a client.
Mark Lusky, President, Mark Lusky Communications (aka The Happy Curmudgeon) is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience. READ BIO