Ignoring Clients Equals Lost Sales
The average business loses 15% of their clients on an annual basis. Some businesses may close. But, many simply stop using your services because they have no need (or don’t know they have a need). In some cases, they will forget about you. If they do, shame on you. It’s most likely because you haven’t established solid relationships with those clients. The clients feel no loyalty… no obligation to return. In more cases than you will want to admit, clients have turned to the competition for their staffing needs.
With the cost of gaining new business five times that of keeping current clients, it’s wise to do all you can to keep your clients coming back for more. The reason: They’ll tell their friends, relatives, business associates and even strangers about what a great experience they had with you. They’ll be your biggest fans and provide free ‘advertising’ for you with their testimonials and referrals.
In order to thrive in business, it’s important to make each client feel important. If they have a negative feeling or are even indifferent to your business they won’t feel obligated to continue to do business with you. It’s your job to make them feel important and to build that long-term relationship.
You start by expressing gratitude for their business. You and anyone who works for you should make good eye contact with clients when meeting them face-to-face and say the words, “Thank you for your business,” at least once on every contact. If you only talk with clients by phone, still say it, but do so with nothing else distracting your attention. Variations might include: “We appreciate your business.” Or, “Your business is important to us.” Focus on saying those words so often that they come out by reflex. And, don’t forget to smile when you say them. A smile really can be heard!
Follow up every transaction with a thank you note. This may sound old-fashioned, but it really works to make them feel important. How many thank you notes do you receive from people you do business with? I’m sure it’s not many. Believe me: people remember those who do send them. If you have someone who has very nice handwriting, that’s best. If not, print them out from your computer with a nice, easy to read font. Be sure to include a business card with each note.
Schedule a follow up phone call within a few days of every service. Ask your clients if they’re still satisfied with the service you provided and how you can improve. Even if you have to leave this in voice mail, that’s okay. You’ve made the contact. These calls shouldn’t take more than a minute or two per client even if you do reach them in person. If they have a challenge, of course, you’ll need to allow time to address it. But it’s worth it to get something resolved rather than let it fester with them.
When clients do have a challenge with your service, listen carefully to what they say. Make notes of the conversation and assure them that you want to get it resolved. Even if you can’t resolve it right away, knowing that you listened to them and are making an effort will go a long way toward giving them a positive, loyalty-building experience. If the challenge takes days or longer to resolve, call or email the client frequently to let them know your progress. Even if there is no progress, letting them know you’re still working on it…keeping them in mind…will go a long way toward their satisfaction and repeat business.
Remind Them to Return
If your service can be scheduled periodically, put a reminder program in place. Send post cards, emails or make quick phone calls to get clients set up for your next opportunity to serve their needs. This is viewed by clients as a courtesy, not an intrusion.
If you offer add-on services, contact them about those as well. Start with, “Mr. Johnson, we so appreciate your past patronage and think you might benefit from…” State the benefit your add-on service will bring them and ask what they think about it rather than pushing to sell it to them. Their feedback will tell you whether or not it’s right for them and whether or not now is the time to consider it. If this isn’t a good time, schedule a repeat contact with them when it is convenient for them.
Building client loyalty is all about providing service…whether it’s the service itself or your time in considering their needs doesn’t matter. What does matter is to make them feel good about continuing to do business with you.