Q: Last week, our team almost lost a major account! Since then, I’ve asked my team to re-focus on keeping our current clients happy. Do you have any specific retention tips or other advice that I can
share with them?

A: Getting your team back on track is a step in the right direction! Did you know it costs six times more to win a new client than it does to keep an existing one? And did you know that losing a customer can be even more costly?

If you’re not spending a significant portion of your sales and marketing budget on customer retention, you may want to reconsider. According to a study by the Harvard Business School Press, improving customer retention by just 5% in the service industry resulted in more than a 70% increase in profit!

The good news is, there are many simple things that you can do that will help you retain your existing clients. Here are a few ideas to start…

1. Deepen relationships
Nurture your customers; focus on building emotional bonds. Make relationships personal so customers have a hard time letting go.

2. Broaden relationships
Network within your client’s company; limit your dependence on single points of contact.

3. Outrageous service
Blow customers away with your attention to detail. Truly exceed expectations.

4. Consistency
Demand a high level of performance in all aspects of your service. Develop procedures to ensure it’s consistently delivered. Turn every process into a checklist and inspect regularly.

5. Limit staff turnover
People like to deal with the same people; turnover (especially in your service department) makes clients nervous and often leads to attrition.

6. Customer intelligence
Know more about your customers’ business than they do (be a consultant not a supplier). Anticipate their needs, and help them realize their objectives.

7. Your corporate culture
Having the right attitude throughout your organization is critical. Reward excellent service and great attitude. Quickly address and resolve problems.

8. Flexibility
Empower front-line personnel so they can quickly accommodate customer requirements. But, don’t abandon them! Give them lots of training and coaching.

9. Reactivity
How quickly can you react to customer needs and opportunities? Practice your reaction skills through training exercises–develop scenarios and plan your reactions.

10. Combat indifference
According to a recent study, the biggest cause of customer defection is indifference–when customers don’t think you care. Make sure you never create this perception by going to great lengths to constantly remind customers just how important they are to you.

11. Mistake recovery programs
Mistakes will happen. How you deal with them determines if you keep or lose clients. Create a process to handle problems quickly and efficiently. Go beyond what the customer is expecting.

12. Ask them
After the first job order is filled, call your client to follow-up. How did you score on service, attentiveness, candidate fit, etc.? Take feedback as a way to improve the next time around.

I hope your team finds these ideas valuable!

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