j0433925There are statistics everywhere confirming that building business with current clients is far cheaper than acquiring new clients. I know this first hand being one who invests an inordinate amount of time networking both online and in ‘the real world’.  Here at George Hay we are regularly agonising over how to best spend our marketing budget, but at the end of the day the cheapest and the best business is that done via a qualified referral.  Also, although winning new business is exhilarating, doing business with clients who like you and appreciate what you do for them is very satisfying.

So what do I do to try and maintain client loyalty and hopefully enthuse them to tell their business associates about my good work?

Stay in touch
First and formost, I have found that clients like to be communicated with and want to “belong” to our organisation.  When clients feel that they are ‘out on a limb’ they are more likely to listen to gossip, be more receptive to your competitors or simply undervalue what you are doing.

Keeping in touch could be as simple as sending a regular newsletter or  involving them in your social media circles.  Of course, your top twenty clients (you do know who they are don’t you?) need more personal and regular attention, but that does not necessarily mean expensive wining and dining.  A simple ‘phone call to find out how things are going is all that it required.

Tell your client as soon as you can if an issue does arise and make sure it is clear how you will be dealing with it.

j0433028If my top clients prepare management information (which of course I encourage) or minutes of board meetings I ask to receive a copy by email so that next time we speak I have a subject matter to discuss that makes them feel good – their business!  This keeps the service personal and hopefully tailored to their needs.  Newsletters, blogs and emails are great ways to communicate messages but they are unlikely to be 100% relevant to your entire client base.  Also in a service environment, clients are buying personalities and a perception of knowledge, not something generated by your marketing team.

 

Remember if clients don’t know what you are doing, they wont want to pay for it.

So keep your clients informed.

You could also use this regular communication to survey clients opinions, if they are valued clients they will be honest with you and help you to appraise your operation, just as you help them with their business, but be warned if you have not made regular contact they may question your motives.

Take responsibility
If an issue does raise it’s ugly head or a mistake happens, correct it at the highest level.  Clients appreciate it when a manager/partner who can and will take action calls, rather than a junior person or an administrator.  Don’t forget an apology is what they are looking for, so make sure you eat humble pie whilst trying to convince them that the problem wont happen again! 

Never try and assign or delegate blame.  As a business person you are responsible for making sure your team are working to look after your clients.  Don’t let one department or staff member criticise another; it is unprofessional and clients will not be reassured.   Remember you have to work with these people, there are enough challenges in business dealing with external factors with out allowing conflict with in the organisation.  If there is a problem, everyone in the business needs to work together to resolve it and implement procedures to prevent it from recurring.

One of the biggest bug-bears of most people in business, I believe, is service professionals that over promise and under deliver, particularly in the early stages of a business relationship when they are trying hard to please or trying to win your business.  This is a major faux pas that most of us, if we are honest, have fallen foul of, so keep clients expectations manageable – and the easiest way to do this? – COMMUNICATE!

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

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