In my last two posts, I wrote in some detail about mechanisms of client satisfaction and offered suggestions of what to do when service delivery breaks. So, client retention is quite simple, the firm must deliver the service it was hired to perform and provide flawless client service in the process. When service breaks (this is not an if – it’s a when) the firm must recover through clearly acknowledging mistakes and communicating how it’s going to fix them. Easy enough, right? Well, not quite.
Clients Hate You
About a month ago, we had the Chief Marketing Officer of one of the world’s most respected companies in our office for a strategic workshop we were facilitating. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “I hate agencies.” This is an individual who’s worked with hundreds of globally respected agencies and their top executives. Marketing at his company is well respected and well funded. His corporation has the cache and the resources to command the attention of any agency worth its salt. Yet, none of his agencies are vested in his business? What? Why?
Clients Want You To Care About Their Success
When I asked him why, he said because none of them were vested in his business. I thought to myself, “I know that’s not the case in our agency.” I experience the commitment of our people first hand. They’ll bend over backwards on a moment’s notice for most of our clients. But, here’s the thing: clients measure you by your actions not your intentions. I’ve met very few professional services firms that don’t genuinely care about the success of at least their best clients. But, clients only feel it when they see it. And, I’m not talking about taking a client to lunch or a round of golf. I’m talking about really showing a client that you’re vested in both their personal success and their organization’s success.
A 5-Part Checklist for Client Retention
If you can answer yes to completing at least 2 of the following activities within the last 3 months, then there’s a good chance that your client feels that you’re “vested” in their business:
- You subscribe and read your client’s top industry publication (either printed or online) and you sent an article to your client with some opinions of what it means to their business.
- You’ve set up Google Alerts of your client’s 2-3 key competitors and you sent useful, relevant information to your client about what the competition is doing with specific suggestions of how they might respond.
- You attended a client’s industry tradeshow solely to listen. You shared useful, relevant insights from the event and packaged them as a small dossier as reference for your client.
- You met with your client with no prior agenda. You very clearly asked them their needs, listened to the response, and internalized what they said with the sole purpose of improving yourself as a professional and your business as a professional firm.
- You’ve established a formal process for collecting meaningful client opinions of the efficacy of your service delivery (both the technical service and the client service), you’ve identified areas of concerns, you’ve established a means by which to improve in those areas, and you’ve very clearly and timely communicated your progress.
So, Is It Working?
Demonstrating to your client that you’re vested in the future success of his or her business is the single most important element of client retention. A client that feels that you’re vested in his or her business will look for ways for you to expand their relationship with them.