Many small-business owners I work with view customer service and retention as facets of their companies that are built into the way they conduct business. In other words, they view their consistent delivery of on-time, high-quality results to be an effective customer retention strategy.
While doing good work is certainly an important aspect of customer retention, an effective strategy needs to include plans for retaining and serving customers that go beyond performing the duties for which you get paid.
Strategies for Retaining Customers
So how can you better hang onto the clients that you invested time and money into attracting to your business? Be sure that each of these is part of your customer service plan.
- Know your industry intimately. Having an encyclopedic knowledge of your industry will not only help build trust with your clients when you first begin your relationship, it will also allow you to anticipate their needs and expectations. If, for example, you discover that your competitors are consistently offering bonuses with their services, you can’t very well expect clients to stay with you if you aren’t. Perhaps more importantly, knowing your industry will allow you to distinguish yourself and demonstrate why your services are superior to your competitors’.
- Build strong relationships with your clients. Even if you do crackerjack work for the people you serve, they may not want to work with you again if they don’t feel as if they know, like, and trust you. In order to build such a relationship, go out of your way to find out about your clients’ lives, and demonstrate that you’re aware of what’s going on in their world. When you can establish a connection between yourself and the people you serve, you’re much more likely to win them over for the long term.
- Communicate often. To ensure that everyone’s needs and expectations are being met, schedule regular meetings to check in on the progress of whatever project you’re working on. The Internet offers a wealth of forums where business partners can share ideas and ask questions no matter where in the world they live. Regular communication ensures that there aren’t any big surprises around deadlines and keeps all parties feeling as though they have a say in the process. You may also want to send short surveys to clients at various points in your relationship to better understand their experience of working with you.
Remember: clients are at the center of any business. Building an explicit strategy for keeping yours happy allows you to minimize the time you have to spend attracting new ones! Customer Service and Retention