I love my networking group. I always leave with something to think about and so much to write about, I can’t possibly keep up. But I’ve carved out some time today because the question posed this morning by our leader, Peggie Arvidson, was an important one: how do you retain clients?
Now, this networking group is a little different. Instead of doing the usual one-minute elevator speeches and having a keynote speaker, we say our name, title and company name, then break into groups of two or three. So I had two brilliant people to talk with, Deborah Trnka and Ed Myerson. By the time I came away from our session, I realized I had learned more about client retention in thirty minutes than I had in months.
Here is how you keep your customers coming back.
Offer real value. Provide something worthwhile and be well versed in why it’s worthwhile. This sounds simple, but it takes work because some customers purchase a product but don’t really understand what they have invested in. And they don’t ask questions because they don’t know how, or they don’t know what they don’t know. So educate the customer. Continuously show the product worth. And give documented proof that something good is happening as a result of the client’s decision to work with you.
Go above and beyond. How do you feel when you are paying for your groceries and the cashier smiles and asks you if you need help unloading? Not many stores offer this kind of service, which makes it unique. Be unique by offering more. Perhaps provide free consultations or seminars. Or spend some extra time with a confused client. Around the holidays, don’t just mail cards. Send something original and thoughtful. Clients remember this.
Be authentic. There’s no point in pretending to be something you are not, because eventually clients see through the facade and ultimately doubt your sincerity or even your honesty. Represent yourself as yourself. If you think you aren’t good enough at your profession, don’t resort to masquerading. Take steps to increase your knowledge and to develop yourself professionally and personally, but don’t put on a fake smile and expect clients to stick around.
Care. This might take some extra emotional investment, especially if you don’t particularly like a client. But caring is an essential part of business relationships. Caring requires you think about your clients’ needs and acknowledge that they are important people, not just because they are paying you, but because they deserve consideration as human beings. If you can’t care about your clients, ask yourself why. It could be you are in the wrong profession or an incompatible work environment.
Some professionals fear if they do all this, they will lose money. But there is a crossover that makes the results satisfying and profitable. If you really care, you will go the extra mile. Clients then will see value in what you are providing, plus recognize your authenticity. Because of this, you will become known for your professionalism and integrity, resulting in a steady stream of clients and referrals.
Is it difficult? Of course. But the long-term benefits are worth the effort.