Building a Loyal Following
These days it is all about client experience. Consumers have an abundance of options on buying products and services. And one of the best and only ways to retain them is creating a clear and AMAZING client experience! You obviously have to work to get that initial sale, but the real hustle begins when it comes to retention.
Customers want to feel special, valued and appreciated. They are, after all, spending their hard earned money with you. You need to make sure they understand just how much that means to you, and regularly. Here are some tips to attract and retain a loyal following to your business.
Have something of value that people actually want.
Common sense, right?! Wrong! You would be shocked at how many sub-par businesses are out there. Be really honest with yourself on your product/service offerings and their worth. Are you someone you would follow? If there is any wavering at all in your answer, CHANGE IT NOW! Learn more about your industry, set better procedures, hire stronger people, come up with more clever marketing tactics. Whatever you need to do to make your company better, DO IT! And then do it again..and again... Never stop growing and learning, that is what makes a truly remarkable company that will stand the test of time.
Be concise on what your company can and can't do.
There is nothing more frustrating (for them) and embarrassing (for you), than promising something to a potential client that you can't actually provide. There is a time and place for "fake it til you make it', but this isn't it. If you have signed up a new client and there are one or two pieces of the project that you aren't quite clear on but can find the answer and/or get training quickly, that is one thing. But, if this is something completely out of your wheelhouse and can't be amended in the foreseeable future. You are much better passing them to a trusted referral partner; then everyone wins.
On-board the client in an efficient manner, with solid processes.
Once the client has agreed to work with you follow up immediately and begin your on-boarding process. There should be two processes; new client, and new project with existing client. With my company we have many different types of projects, ie. design, printing, marketing service, social media management, etc.. so there are multiple ways that the project needs to be started. However, the process is generally the same; send contract to client, invoice client, create file system, create new project in the project management tool, collect materials, establish goals, set deadline, etc.. This is our basic on-boarding process for any new project. Take the time to write out yours and do everything you can to follow it.
Do what you say you are going to do.
This is a no-brainer but often times we need to be reminded. Nothing is more frustrating to your client than failed promises. Things happen, problems arise, unforeseen circumstance occur - it is impossible to control everything all the time. But, usually problems are less likely to happen when you have solid processes. And when these problems do happen your client will be much more understanding if you have, over time, delivered when you said you would. They will chalk it up as bad luck out of your control if you have worked hard to build a solid foundation of trust from the get go. A good strategy here is to set your entire production process with expected completion timelines and give that to the client when they start working with you. Make you sure you give yourself a buffer in each of the timelines for issues that come up; problems with a vendor, the entire staff getting the flu, internet going down, etc.. This way you have a bit of leeway if something happens.
Once the project is complete, express appreciation.
I can't tell you how many times I have ordered something, had a great time working with the company and as soon as the check clears I don't hear from them again. It isn't really a slight towards that company as my experience was just fine, but you don't want "just fine", remember? You want to be extraordinary. That is what it takes to retain a loyal following. Follow up with the client a few days to a week out and ask how things are going. Remind them how much you appreciated working with them. Sharing a favorite moment of the project is a nice touch too. Wish them a great week and much success on __________ (whatever you helped them with). This only takes a few minutes of your time and leaves a lasting impression.
Whether you just got your business license, opened your brick and mortar, or have been in business 45 years; all of us can strengthen ourselves internally. There is an immense amount of competition just waiting to take every client you have. Lay the foundation for a solid client experience now to ensure success for tomorrow.
There is nothing more rewarding than having clients who truly see your value. Make sure that you are giving them someone who has earned it, someone who respects it, and someone who will foster that loyalty without fail.