Maybe that’s why being dropped by a client is called “getting the boot.”
The reasons staffing customers stop working with you may seem quite varied:
- lack of staffing ROI
- poor customer service
- poor candidate quality
- inability to meet deadlines
But in reality, these are all just symptoms of what Kent Lewis describes as “a failure to create meaningful connections with clients.” In his post Four Strategies to Keep Your Clients from Firing You, Kent makes the point that when you connect with a client, they like, trust and respect you; in other words, they treat you like family instead of a vendor. And when you fall short of their expectations, they’ll give you the benefit of the doubt – instead of giving you the boot.
The ideas he presented are particularly relevant for the staffing industry, so I’ve summarized three elements he prescribes to help you truly connect with your clients – and increase staffing customer retention:
The time your account managers spend talking to clients and developing relationships – whether they’re actively “selling” or not – has value in terms of the business it may generate in the future. Direct your sales team to get to know their contacts better:
- asking about their business challenges and goals;
- finding out how their employers measure their performance;
- understanding what keeps them awake at night;
- learning more about them as people.
By shifting the focus from selling to really understanding clients’ “pain points,” your account managers will uncover business opportunities that move your staffing service from the transactional role of a vendor to a true business partner.
WOWism starts with truly understanding your clients (Talk Time can help with this), and then using that knowledge to find ways to make them feel special and appreciated. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, “wowing” your clients starts with building the systems to deliver consistently remarkable client experiences – and then empowering your team to deliver them.
Creating meaningful connections with clients obviously presents tremendous advantages, but it also creates a serious risk – namely, that an account manager will take a valued client with him when he leaves. To prevent this from happening, build client connections at multiple levels within your staffing or recruiting firm:
- The Evangelist. A senior-level contact who engages clients quarterly or annually to support a long-term strategic relationship.
- The Counsel. A mid-level manager who contacts the client weekly or monthly to facilitate mid-term strategy and oversight.
- The Workhorse. The front-line account contact who interfaces with the client to manage daily or weekly needs.
With this model, even if a key role is vacated, you still have at least two other contacts to maintain the relationship during the transition.
As competition increases in the staffing industry, service will become an even more important differentiator for your agency. Look for new ways to strengthen relationships, understand clients’ needs and uncover ways to help them be more successful. Increase meaningful connections with your customers, and you’ll protect yourself from “getting the boot.”