For small companies, client retention can make or break your business.
In Kate’s latest blog post, she said, “Client retention is ultimately the key to long-term profitability and sustainable growth.” Studies show us that a higher customer retention rate leads to greater profits and increased LTV.
Keeping clients can help your business grow. But also, when you lose a client, it’s not just the money that’s lost. It’s also the trust and relationship that you’ve built with them. It can even impact your reputation in the market.
Pulling from my own experiences and challenges in maintaining a low churn rate, I’ve compiled the top strategies for client retention.
Remember that people are at the heart of small companies.
Take time to get to know your clients and understand their needs, wants, and goals. A client is never just a number; they are a person with a family, friends, and dreams. Making the investment to get to know your clients will help you build trust and create a lasting relationship that can benefit both you and your client.
As an example, I take time to check in personally with each client at the beginning of our bi-weekly meetings. It’s a chance for us to talk about life beyond work. With one client, we even hold each other accountable to our individual goals of working out 3x/week. In this check-in time, we have learned so much about each other and what we have in common!
At the end of the day, it’s essential to remember that people are people no matter what their job title or role in life may be. By taking the time to get to know them as individuals, you can create meaningful connections that will last for years.
Win together. Lose together.
This starts by ensuring you’re tracking the right metrics. Metrics should be lead indicators of your key objectives. If you and your clients are focused on the same metrics, winning and losing will be clear.
When a metric is down or an issue arises, don’t shy away. Be proactive and initiate conversations. Confront issues head-on and work through them together. Being able to do this enables vulnerability and honesty which ultimately strengthens trust.
And win together – celebrate completing those milestones, reaching goals, and surpassing goal metrics.
Focus on service quality.
Service quality is the overall experience a client has when working with an organization. Work quality is different – that is the actual product, the deliverables, and the results. Service quality is centered around how work is presented, how conversations are handled, and how you focus on the needs of your client. Service quality also involves having advisory and leadership skills to provide guidance to clients and having challenging conversations when needed.
If you’re only focused on work quality, you will inevitably fail. Humans make mistakes – i.e. typos – and products have glitches. Understanding service quality and applying focus here helps build relationships with clients, increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, and ultimately, lead to better business outcomes.
Create delightful moments for your clients.
These are special moments that are unexpected and can create a lasting impression to build a strong relationship.
Make note of birthdays, client anniversaries and personal wins (like promotions and hitting milestones) to show appreciation for your clients. A simple card or gift goes a long way in making someone feel special and appreciated.
By creating “delight” moments, you can show clients that you care about them beyond just selling products or services. These small gestures can have a big impact on customer relationships, leading to increased satisfaction and loyalty in the long run.
Client retention doesn’t mean your clients will be perpetually happy and satisfied with the experience. It also isn’t a result of always bending to the will of your clients’ every beck and call. Client retention is a result of built trust and accountability over time. It is a reflection of your business and the positive influence you have on your clients.
At the end of the day, it’s much easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to find new ones. And if you can retain clients successfully, you will ultimately have greater profits and increased LTV.