I was chatting with a Sales Director at our company this morning who asked an interesting question: How do you explain the increase in our client retention rates recently? While some factors are out of our control, there are many steps we should take in order to retain clients as long as possible. It may seem like I am stating the obvious here, but it’s always a good thing to remind ourselves of what we need to be doing all day, every day to maintain these relationships. While it is great to always bring on new clients, it’s also crucial to keep the existing ones, as it’s far easier to keep a client than to develop a new one.
After I met with the Sales Director, I asked other colleagues what they thought were the key reasons leading to our success with client retention. Here were the top 5 factors we felt were most crucial when it comes to keeping clients around:
- Exceeding Expectations – It’s important to constantly ask yourself, “What else can we do to increase value for this client?” It’s sometimes easy to get comfortable with a client and hit goals that you have outlined together month after month, but if you continue to bring new ideas on ways to go above and beyond those goals long term, they will always keep the extra effort you made for them in mind when it comes to their renewal.
- Honest Communication – If you don’t check in with your clients on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to make sure you are on the same page, it’ll be tough to maintain the relationship. Like one Director I work with said to me this afternoon, communication with a client is like communication in a marriage: If you don’t consistently talk with each other and be open, it will fall apart. If there is an issue and you aren’t getting the results you anticipated for the client, talk with them on an ongoing basis to fix the issue(s). Pinpoint the issues early on in the engagement and don’t avoid them.
- Quality of Work – Hold yourself accountable for the product/service you are delivering. Putting guarantees in place or constantly following up on the quality of work you are delivering to your client is extremely important.
- Being Responsive – You want your clients to feel like they can come to you at any point and that they’ll get a prompt response. If a client sends an email asking for a particular deliverable, I like to respond within 2-3 hours. Even if I can’t necessarily provide the deliverable right away, I can at least provide them with a timeframe of when they can expect it. I think this goes a long way, and it goes hand in hand with honest communication that I mentioned above.
- Keeping up to Date with Trends – It’s crucial to always ask yourself if you are you utilizing up and coming technology to add value that your competitors aren’t. For instance, are you constantly evaluating technology that will make your employees as efficient as they can be, or are you getting stuck in what feels comfortable? If you don’t make any changes year after year, you will keep delivering the same results, and in a competitive market, you need to do whatever it takes to differentiate yourself from the competition.
In my experience of being responsible for managing client relationships, there’s no worse feeling than losing a client. While there are some reasons for clients leaving that are out of your control, there are many steps you can take that you do have control over. What do you think is most important when it comes to retaining your clients?