There’s a highly circulated statistic in business that revolves around customer retention: it is 5x harder to acquire a new customer than to maintain one that you have. Therefore, while customer acquisition should always be a priority, ensuring your current customers are well taken care of should consistently be at the top of your to-do list.
As a startup, getting initial clients can be very difficult. Without a traditional business model, revenue, and portfolio, you have to work much harder to prove to potential clients that you have what it takes to help them grow their own businesses. So what will keep them happy? Here are a few ideas:
Maintain Consistent Communication
Communication in any business is key. When a client entrusts you with their money and time, they expect updates on that progress. Schedule regular calls with your clients to maintain a positive relationship.
Depending on the nature of the work, this might mean a weekly call or even a monthly call. Whatever the case, make these updates a priority. Additionally, you can go the extra mile to let them know when you come across content, like industry news, that’s relevant to them. Not only does this show that you’re thinking about them, but that you’re invested in learning about the industry and continuously growing.
Part of consistent communication means being completely transparent as often as possible. After all, transparency builds trust.
Allowing them access to information shows you’re committed to creating solutions that matter. And of course, this means admitting when you’re wrong or when deliverables have to be postponed because of an error on your end. In fact, one study found that 85% of customers would be willing to stick with a company through a brand crisis if that company was transparent.
Always be honest about where you are in the working process, any bottlenecks you might be facing, and how you plan to adjust to roadblocks.
Travel to Them
One of the best and most effective ways to rise above your competition is to travel to your clients—even when they’re out of state or international. This doesn’t mean you have to hop on a plane every time an important meeting needs to happen. Instead, you should be strategic about your face-to-face meetings.
Initial onboardings are great reasons to make travel a priority. Meeting them on their turf allows you to better understand their business challenges, develop deeper connections, show you care, and learn the ins and outs of their business.
Do yourself (and your staff) a favor and invest in business travel accommodations and transportation. Make the most of each site visit by ending with a request for feedback and constructive criticism.
Identify Areas for Improvement
Part of keeping a client is being proactive. Rather than wait for a client to give you feedback, take the time to analyze your data, read up on the industry, and brainstorm creative solutions. The end goal is to identify areas for improvement on your own. Any client would be impressed at your level of research if pulled this off successfully.
You should also take a step back and look at their budget to identify ways they can make the most out of it. Far too many new businesses want to squeeze those early dollars out of their clients to grow their business on the internal side, but fail to realize they could end up isolating those clients in the long run. Show each client that it’s not just about money.
Personalize Your Service
When you’re in the business of providing a service, it’s important that you tailor that service to their linking—not the other way around. Prove to each of your clients that you value their point of view by actually implementing their ideas and suggestions when possible. A little personalization goes a long.
Personalization isn’t just about the business end of things. It’s also important to show them that you care. Holiday cards and congratulatory gift baskets help demonstrate how you go the extra mile to ensure the client’s happiness and success.
The dynamic between a client and your business changes completely when you’re invested in their lives outside of work, too. For example, asking about how their children are doing or how a recent vacation went is always a great way to start an official business call; it builds a bond that invites a bit of humility into an otherwise transactional relationship.