Article written by Pieter Scholtz (ActionCOACH Country Partner)
Recently a colleague and I were discussing client retention, during which he lamented the fact that he had recently lost some long-standing clients. Several key points came out of the discussions which I would like to summarise below:
- Focusing on client retention has to be on your agenda all the time. Too many businesses focus on attaining new clients often at the expense of retaining those that they have at currently. Net client growth is the most important component of growth for any business.
- Every client completes a value proposition, often subconsciously, each time they receive an invoice from you. If their perception of value is not clear and demonstrable in some form or other, over time they will decide to switch allegiance at the soonest opportunity. Most often this switch in allegiance, is a switch, not to your competitor, but a switch away from buying your product or service in future. The sooner we realise that the customer has the power to decide to buy your service and to retain you as a supplier of that service, the better. At the same time, they hold the power to determine whether they are receiving a fair value exchange for their investment in your service.
- Given that they hold the power to determine whether they are receiving a fair value exchange or not, two questions need to be asked:
- Are you asking your customers whether they believe they are receiving value every month or best still, at every client interaction?
- Are you communicating and clarifying your value to your current customers every month?
If the above questions are not being asked and discussed, a vacuum will be created, and the customer will then fill that vacuum with their own perception of value. You have the power to influence that perception of value and to change that from a perception of value to a true experience of value.
Scott McKain, well known speaker on “Creating distinction of value in a changing world” speaks of the four components of distinction. These are:
- Customer experience
As I reviewed these four points it dawned upon me that these are as applicable to the subject of client retention as they are to creating distinction.
Let’s review these within this context.
It is your role as the supplier of a product or service to ensure that client has clarity on what the value proposition is in using you as a service provider. This cannot be abdicated.
Question: Ask your current clients, why did they choose you? Secondly, ask clients that chose not to do business with you, why they chose to work with someone else and not you?
You have to find unique ways to serve your clients that adds value to them. If what you are doing to serve them has not changed over the last year to three years your service would have become irrelevant.
Question: What is that single point of value that your client will experience at every interaction with you and/or your team?
You have to find creative ways of communicating, across multiple platforms, to your clients the value they are receiving from you as a supplier.
Question: Ask your clients about how their life or business was changed as a result of using your service and ensure that you tell their story!! Not your story.
4. Customer Experience
Scott defines the purpose of business as follows: “The purpose of any business is to profitably create experiences so compelling to the customer that their loyalty becomes assured”.
Question: In my business, what is the ultimate customer experience any customer can have? What does it sound like, look like, or feel like?
Once this has been defined – then just go and do it.
Client retention is a process that never stops. Net client growth is the ultimate measure. Creating raving fans is what it is about. You need to be on top of this agenda all the time – failure of which you will feel as if you are on a hamster wheel, losing customers as soon as you gain new ones and therefore not growing. Eventually you get tired and fall off the wheel.