• How to Increase Client Retention

    Looking back at last week, I can sum it up in one word: Overwhelming! I don’t mean it in a negative way either. What I mean is, I had to keep up with so many requests and tasks from current clients, but also had to balance the influx of requests coming in from brand new clients. We continue to increase the amount of clients we have and keep, which is the result of not only our sales team bringing on new customers, but also client retention once these customers are on board with us from an operations standpoint. I’ve found that the trick is to maintain strong current customer relationships while still introducing new ones. So, here’s what I have found, to be best way to do it:

    • Communicate. Communication is key when it comes to retaining customers and it’s crucial to respond to requests as they flood your email and voicemail boxes. It is easy for us to miss an email as it comes through or to say to yourself, “I will get to that later.” If your day is anything like mine, you are likely to forget about getting back to that email before you leave for the day. That said, it would be impossible to communicate and respond to all requests immediately, so what are you supposed to do? As soon as I receive an email asking for something, I immediately add it to my “Today’s To Do List” that is separate from my email folders. I do this in a word doc or in a notebook so I know that it won’t be overlooked. After I do this, if it’s not something I can complete immediately, I reply back quickly letting them know that I am on it, and they should expect to hear from me by mid-afternoon (or whenever the timeframe might be).

    Even though you haven’t given them what they have requested instantaneously, your clients will appreciate the communication because it lets them know you are working on the request and it also tells them when they can expect to receive their deliverable. A “To Do” list may resemble a grocery list but it truly does work in ensuring that your client is happy at the end of the day and that nothing has been overlooked.

    • Be proactive instead of reactive. It’s important to pinpoint potential challenges with your client before they fully develop in order to create a great relationship with them, and to retain them in the long run. Creating reports to measure the success on how you are doing works the best. This seems pretty obvious and I’m sure most people reading this also create reports. The essential piece is that these reports are checked periodically throughout the week and not just once.

    If you check them once at the end of the week and have had a bad week, you will most likely panic and try to find a fix that won’t be as effective as it could be. If you pinpoint the issue mid week, you have more time to come up with a plan that will actually work because you will have time to evaluate what isn’t working and how you need to fix it. For instance, one report I have shows our client’s database of prospects to call. Once the list of prospects starts to get low, my report tells me this and I pull a new list from NetProspex/Jigsaw or ask the client for a list before we start to lose productivity due to a lack of names to call. The client appreciates this because they realize you are identifying a potential problem ahead of time and that they won’t lose three days of productivity in the long run. Even though this is a very specific example, being proactive instead of reactive is something all businesses should abide by in order to retain clients.

    • Involve all departments from start to finish. In my experience, I have found clients typically favor having a team in place through out their engagement with us. As soon as sales introduces new clients to the operations/client services team, communication between sales and the client shouldn’t stop. A great way to keep all departments involved from start to finish is to have sales check-in with clients a couple times a month for a brief conversation. For example, our Sales Directors call our clients to ask how everything is going and ask them what the team could be doing to make their experience that much better. Sometimes clients might feel more comfortable speaking to the sales person versus the project/client services manager that they speak with everyday if they have areas of concern to convey.

    These are some ways that I’ve found to work for me but I’m sure there are some other ways that are equally effective…

    How do you increase your client retention rates?

    Laney Pilpel is Manager, Client Operations at AG Salesworks.  To view all company blogs go to  AG Salesworks blog site.

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