The best practices to increase client retention involve more than a solid support strategy. To achieve your goals, you must develop a customer care policy that’s understood and adhered to by every member of your team. Your customer service, sales and marketing teams, and even IT and contractors must understand your corporate retention program for maximum impact.
To get you started, here are some high-impact customer retention tips proven across industries to provide the results you need:
Set realistic expectations, and overdeliver whenever possible.
Setting realistic client expectations may seem like an obvious business ethic. Yet, the real world can get messy. Sales teams may overpromise to get the sale. Marketing teams may face a situation where they know their product or service is superior, yet competitors bend the truth. In both cases, your teams may rely on “the fine print” to cover your company legally from overpromising.
But for long-term retention, it’s important to manage client expectations honestly. Ensure your sales team knows the competitions’ products as well as your own so they can deftly illustrate the difference. Then, overdeliver as possible. The 10X Rule should apply to your client service as well as to yourself! And with online reviews so common at Google and Yelp, a “best practices” policy will do more than increase customer retention. It will draw new clients as well.
Make clients part of the process by soliciting feedback.
Increasing client retention requires great customer service techniques. But that doesn’t begin in the customer service department. It often ends there! According to reputation expert and consultant Andy Beal, 96% of unhappy customers won’t tell you, but they will tell 15 friends.
Get ahead of customer dissatisfaction. Solicit feedback at every opportunity. That includes during the sale, during service and as a follow-up. Depending upon your business style and structure, follow-ups may involve a personal visit, phone call, email, text or an online survey. Even a single survey question can help you learn if your clients’ needs are satisfactorily met. The net results for you are multifaceted and can include:
- Reengaging the client to increase future sales.
- Addressing issues the client may have (which also increases retention).
- Discovering weak points of delivery in your product or service.
Offer sales, discounts and gifts as surprise perks.
While sign-up benefits are great for client acquisition, they can actually leave long-term clients feeling left out. Don’t neglect your existing clients. Flash sales and discounts by email, text and social media platforms keep your clients engaged. They also show that you remember them and care about their business. Surprise gifting for clients and employees can work wonders, too. In fact, according to a 2021 Coresight Research survey, 43% of companies using a corporate gift strategy reported improved client loyalty, among other benefits.
But when gifting, you want to do more than remind your client that you care. You want to say something about yourself and your commitment to environmental, social and governance (ESG) values. Corporate gifting services such as Packed with Purpose speak to your support of companies with a commitment to a diversified, under-resourced workforce.
Employ digital education strategies for clients.
Sometimes, clients can be both happy and somewhat let down by a product. That is, it works in some ways as well as expected, but doesn’t serve their needs in other ways. Often, clients: 1) don’t know about its best features, 2) don’t know the multiple uses it can serve or 3) flat-out aren’t using it properly. I recently experienced this with a camera purchase. I was both happy and let down. An educational video on YouTube turned my “meh” reaction to a “yay!”
Digital client education strategies can include online videos at popular services such as Rumble or YouTube. But they also include blogs, other website “how to” assets, email newsletters and even simple mobile apps to keep them in touch with all of the above. By engaging your client with better performance and advice, you will build brand affiliation to build customer loyalty.
Build multiple employee relationships with your client.
Retaining clients in the long term requires great products and services, as much or more attention as you give prospective clients, a few welcome surprises and an accessible feedback loop. But the foundation beneath it all often relies on a human connection. The thing is, not all humans get along equally!
We’ve all asked in a phone call or personal visit, “Is Luis here today?” Not because we have something against Sue, who greeted us. But because we connect with Luis. The problem is that employees sometimes leave. They take another offer, change their lives around or, sometimes, they simply retire. When you lose a team member, you will often lose the connections they have made. You will lose a client.
Before that happens, take every opportunity to introduce your client to one or more other associates. For instance, on sales or service calls, have your lead bring a partner who can also get to know the client. New employee training provides a great opportunity for your client to build relationships with someone besides their primary contact.
Earn back a lost client.
While these strategies will improve client retention, nothing quite goes perfectly. A service error, malfunctioning product or even someone’s personal “bad day” can lead to client loss even with the best customer retention policies in place.
But, remember, even a lost client provides an opportunity. After all, you’ve done the hard work. You had the client’s interest once. You can certainly gain their trust again. See “How to Win Back a Client” for more information and tips.