Clients are absolutely critical to your business. They are the ones who purchase your products or services and as a result are the only reason your business exists, therefore the relationship you hold with your clients is paramount to your continued success.
At Leighton, we build relationships with longevity in mind as our thirteen year relationship with British Airways confirms. With recent stats from the Office of Consumer Affairs in the US suggesting that attracting a new customer is 6-7 times more costly than retaining an existing one, it’s not hard to see why - and this post aims to outline some of the aspects that can help with your client retention.
Value your clients
Clients should feel valued. And not just at the beginning, but right throughout the relationship. They should also receive value in the products and services you provide. You can’t charge an astronomical day rate for a service when you don’t bring anything additional to the party.
I've seen clients end big relationships with suppliers because they aren't getting either value in the service or aren’t feeling they are valued as a client. Furthermore, research shows that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator - why would your client, who's feeling under-valued, think any differently?
Stay in touch
If a client hasn’t heard from you in a while, there’s every chance they won’t remember you. Clients are busy, they have multiple projects and multiple suppliers they deal with. Stay on their radar and remind them exactly what you do and how you can help them with their pain points, as you never know when a conversation can turn into an opportunity.
What’s more, staying in touch doesn’t have to be a phone call. Where appropriate, engage via social media perhaps on a more personal or interest-led level. Alternatively, make an effort to attend events when you know they’ll be there. You might learn something critical about their needs that you and your team can help with.
Adapt to suit your clients
Change and adapt your business to suit your clients needs because if you don’t, one of your competitors will.
If your client is established, there is probably a lot to learn about the way they do business. For example, be flexible. If you work UK hours but your client works in a different time zone, think about how you can offer a valuable service in the hours they do business.
Be inventive, too. Clients love suppliers who can add value by recognising an opportunity or pursuing a new technological solution on their behalf.
Take care of your assets
Look after the people who work for you, show them how much you care and value what they do for your business. Don't belittle or patronise them, but let them find their way with guidance, support and good leadership. Train them and help them hone their skills and ability. Your business will be better for it and your clients will notice.
Simply put, don't be arrogant. Thinking you know it all will only set you up for a fall and you won't be respected. Be as open as you can be with both clients and staff.
In addition, work hard not to confuse arrogance and self assurance. The former is a red flag to clients, but the latter will only continue to build confidence in you and your team.
Go above and beyond
Go the extra mile. Continually improve how you operate as a business and how you interact with a client.
Being smart not only benefits the way you operate as a business, but it shows your clients that you operate with intelligence and efficiency - qualities every business wants.
At Leighton, we talk a lot about the “marginal gains” principle of the GB cycling team that many credit for the cycling team’s incredible medal haul at the London Olympics. Team GB Cycling boss Dave Brailsford’s vision is that if you can improve each and every component of performance by just 1% through simple tweaks here and there, the cumulative effect can be huge.
Go above and beyond. Keep improving. Your clients will notice.