The key to client retention

Building client loyalty and retaining hard-won customers are among the biggest challenges for many businesses in the B2B space.

Content sponsored by IRD Prospector

Whilst there’s no shortage of research touting how important this is for sustained business growth, one study that really resonates is an oft-referenced Bain & Company paper that concludes that increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% – 95%.

Although that survey is somewhat long in the tooth, the contention that retention revenue is more profitable than acquisition revenue remains hard to refute. Whilst the numbers are compelling and speak for themselves, the solution is, unfortunately, more complex. Getting the profitability uptick that comes from improved customer engagement and retention takes time and considerable effort and shortcuts are few and far between.

Here’s four tips on how to keep your customers enthralled and coming back for more.

1. Sell with retention as your objective.

With the pressure to meet new business targets rarely abating, the temptation to secure new clients at all costs is understandable. However, whilst you may be able to push a client over the line in the short term, unless you start thinking about retaining a customer before you’ve even signed them, the odds of building a long-standing relationship may be stacked against you.

One of the best ways of selling with retention in mind, indeed one of the best ways of selling full stop, is to encourage your salespeople to create and document expectations with their customers from the outset. By setting realistic expectations for what your product or service will deliver, you can agree upon a satisfaction benchmark with you customer that will help ensure you never under deliver.

Not only can this prevent oversell scenarios, it gives your company the opportunity to go above and beyond them to exceed customer expectations. It goes without saying this is one of the healthiest recipes for strong customer loyalty, which will pump up positive word of mouth opportunities and boost new business referrals.

2. Develop and invest in a structured retention program.

Even when you have the best offering on the market, customers are fickle and churn is inevitable. Maximise your chances of repeat business by deploying a structured account management program and make sure to make an investment in the program that suitably reflects the profitability of renewing businesses. Many businesses invest big in new client acquisition, but neglect retention investment.

The best programs are enshrined in the culture of leading businesses and have a consistent schedule of touchpoints, include systems that alert when a customer may have gone dormant or is unhappy and have multiple avenues through which the customer can reach out to you for help, support and advice. Phone and email are no brainers for most businesses, but channels such as LiveChat, Facebook and Twitter should not be overlooked. When reaching out to a customer at a scheduled touch point, don’t just enquire as to how they’re travelling, make sure to add value to their experience with your business by delivering inputs that they may be able to put into practice. Info on new product features, usage best practice, or the success of other clients may all serve to heighten engagement and through that loyalty.

3. Give your customers the personal touch – Listen & Act.

Customer loyalty is a factor of trust, and nothing builds trust quite like the personalised courtesy call. Proactively call customers to find out what they want and how you can improve. Always make sure to add value to the customer through your conversation and demonstrate that whilst you are there to inform, you’re also there to listen. If you take the effort to understand challenges and issues that your customer may have with your service, and more importantly you demonstrate a preparedness to act upon the feedback you have received, your standing with the customer will soon be elevated to that of trusted advisor. In short, listen and act; be quick to respond and never ignore.

4. Engage with Thought Leadership.

Though perhaps better known for its role in new client acquisition programs, content marketing also has a seismic part to play in pretty much any effective retention program. Blogs, whitepapers and e-books are among many powerful tools with which to educate and engage existing clients. Each has the potential to gradually cement your trust-based relationship and position you as an expert source.

Not only is content is a cost-effective way of engaging and adding value at a time when customers are increasingly looking for more than just a supplier, it represents a potent way of delivering the support and advice that can take their business to the next level. With this in mind, make sure to set a few hours aside each week to produce some content that, at very least, can get your customers thinking about some simple ways of upping their game whilst turbocharging your own retention along the way.

Matt Skinner – Managing Director, IRD Prospector


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