Your elevator pitch was a home run; onboarding was easy breezy and the new client contract has been signed, sealed and delivered!
Job well done, right?
Yes, acquiring a new client is always a win, but the reality is that now the real work begins in successfully maintaining and retaining your professional relationship through lots of communication, attention and commitment to shared goals.
Since starting Carlson Integrated over four years ago, I’ve been fortunate to work with so many long-term clients and it is an honor to connect with them not only on a professional level, but a human one. Like them, I understand the hard work, the stress and the joys of running a small business. I believe our success as a company is reflected in our ability to not only attract, but also to maintain long-term client relationships. Truth be told, in addition to enriching your professional life immeasurably, this retention goes a long way in increasing your bottom line.
It is much easier and far more cost-effective to retain existing clients than to acquire new ones, and retention has the added benefit of increasing your brand’s reputation. It is a privilege that another firm or individual desires to be affiliated with you and your company. Reputation has always been an important driver, but especially in this day and age of social media it requires constant attention. The relationship you establish with your clients will define how you move forward as a company. Make sure it’s in the right direction. We are all in the relationship business.
In social media, response options to the posts we see are typically “like”, “comment” and “share”. We’ve adapted that triad formula for client relationship cultivation: CHECK-IN, COMMUNICATE AND SHARE.
For some clients, you may feel like you are plugging holes in dams and are engaged with them frequently. For others, they may think you are too busy or that their needs are a lower priority (oh my gosh, if any of our clients feel this way, please reach out to me right away!). You don’t know what people are thinking or feeling if you aren’t checking in with them. Whether it’s engaging on their social media posts, sending quick emails or making phone calls, or scheduling a time to get together, your clients are valuable members of your organization and deserve attention.
Are things going not-so-well? Communicate. Did you go on vacation and catch a horrible nasty bug that kept you in bed the week you got back and every call had to be canceled (yep, me again)? Communicate. Are things going super-well? COMMUNICATE. You get the idea.
Lastly, the concept of sharing goes well beyond social media. You have clients, and you have a network of contacts who have needs that your clients may be able to fulfill. Sharing within your own network about your clients’ successes gives them the ability to grow their networks. Go out of your way to make referrals. Tell others about your great clients.
Just like a satisfied client will happily send referrals your way, an unhappy one can do lots of damage to your brand reputation. Don’t let that happen. Every business is built or broken by how you treat your clients.
Celebrate shared success.
I love being able to share my clients’ successes. So often we’re too focused on things going “wrong” that we forget to celebrate the things that are going right. Know your clients’ goals and celebrate their achievements. Foster feelings of partnership and teamwork. It’s always fun to be a part of the team that makes things happen!
We have an action step idea that may make you feel a little uncomfortable at first. A great way to make sure you are on the right track is to ask. Ask for honest feedback from your clients. Do they feel like you CHECK-IN, COMMUNICATE AND SHARE? Then, always, you must be prepared to act on it.
The bottom line is that the Golden Rule of treating others as you’d like to be treated really is golden. Focus on providing your clients the best services possible not only the first time, but EVERY time. Your business depends on it!