With comparison tools built into browsers, coded into search histories, and lurking in advertisements, your clients are constantly targeted by competitors. Some companies and service providers try to “out advertise” these rivals, but the truth is that no amount of marketing offense will replace the classic defense: building client loyalty.
If you’re ready to safeguard your existing and future customers against unexpected poaching, here are the five techniques you’ll need to make it happen:
Abraham Thomas, CEO Intrinsic Technology Group, New York feels that anticipating needs is one of the ways great customer service distances itself from the generic “good.” If you’re waiting on your customer to pick up the phone or email about a problem, you’re already behind the proverbial 8 ball. A periodic no-real-reason “check-in” call or email gives them the chance to discuss concerns or needs you can assist with, without the pressure of initiation. It also provides a natural segue way into upselling and cross-selling complementary goods and services.
- Don’t Fumble Their Nam
If a client needs to be asked basic facts about their company during a call or pitch, they immediately feel like a number. Do your homework before initiating contact, and don’t be afraid to take notes if it’s a call or email contact. Additionally, rather than stuffing facts and references into a conversation to prove you’ve done the legwork, pick one standout note of interest and ask them about it in an engaging, friendly way. It’s a fact: people love talking about themselves, and you’ll get a more favorable response if you set the stage for them to do so.
- Avoid “C-Suite Tunnel Vision”
It’s only natural that you’ll court decision-makers, and budget-holders when selling your brand, but don’t forget that companies operate as teams behind the scenes. If you’re sending a gift, card, or promotional material, make sure there’s enough to “share with the class,” so to speak. If the names of support staff come up frequently in your one-on-one discussions, suggest inviting those staff members to discussions or meetings to keep everyone on the same page.
- Make Your Product(s) Indispensable
There’s often long stretches of time between discussions, pitching, sales, installation, and maintenance. It’s those “in-between” times when customers forget how to use a certain component, or decide that an aspect of the service is too troublesome to use. Each time they find a workaround or neglect to use your product to the fullest, they’re one step closer to dropping off your client list completely. Empower them to rediscover all that you offer with newsletters or candid chats during those periodic contacts – which you’ve already started doing, right?
- Sign On for the Long Haul
Business relationships – good ones, anyway – aren’t formed overnight. They take time, recovering from stumbles as a team, and each side proving their worth to really gel over time. Aim to secure more long-term contracts with fewer short-term distractions: it’s one of the commandments of marketing that it’s less expensive to keep and nurture an existing customer than to attract a new one. Save your money – and your effort, time and sanity – by showing you’re committed to serving your clients over years, rather than months or weeks.
Each business relationship is different, but these five secrets take very little time and offer an outsized payoff in the currency of customer loyalty. Above all, listen to what your clients are saying: they’re spending their money because they believe in you, and all you have to do is prove you’re worthy of that trust by providing excellent customer service.