Do you know what kills a client relationship faster than anything else….?
Is it giving bad service on a particular matter?
Not responding by the deadline you agreed?
Or even making a mistake?
It’s actually none of these.
The thing most likely to end a relationship with a client is ‘perceived indifference’.
The research shows that 68% of clients who leave and go elsewhere do so because their perception that the business doesn’t care about them anymore.
It’s a shocking statistic.
Especially when you consider that only 14% will leave because they’re dissatisfied with the service – meaning they are 5 times more likely to leave because they think you’re indifferent to them than because of delays, mistakes, or other types of ‘bad’ service.
What can you do to prevent it?
If you value your clients, you need to show it.
Showing interest in them and/or their business needs to be your top priority, and not just at the start of your relationship, but throughout it.
There are lots of ways to do this, like asking for feedback about their experience with you (and acting on it), finding out what else they need and providing it and/or helping them get it from someone else, introducing them to other useful contacts, inviting them to events, letting them use your office meeting space for their own meetings, and so on.
But the simplest one of all is just staying in touch.
I don’t mean by putting them on your newsletter list (yawn) but by staying in touch in a personal way. For example, wishing them happy birthday (or better still, sending a card), checking in to see how they are doing after an important event, or letting them know about a new development or change that’s specifically relevant to them or their business.
If you have hundreds of clients, it isn’t always practical to do all these things for all clients. So instead think about your best clients (the top 20% who are bringing you 80% of your work) and focus on doing a great job of showing them you care. Then you can add some less time intensive strategies to keep in touch with the rest of your clients (the other 80% of your clients who bring the remaining 20% of your work).
A simple next step to keep your clients for longer
Look at your best clients and ask yourself ‘am I really doing enough to show them I care?’
If not, add at least two new ‘keeping in touch’ or ‘showing appreciation’ strategies into your relationship with those clients. When done in the right way, these strategies will keep these clients out of the 68% ‘perceived indifference’ category, so they can remain your clients for longer.
Too often our follow up or keeping in touch strategies for clients resolve around email – it’s quick and easy to do and requires minimum commitment from us. But this ‘minimum commitment’ also has much less value than the personal touch – a phone call or an invitation to meet in person can be worth a dozen emails. So look for opportunities to pick up the phone and communicate human-to-human rather than inbox-to-inbox.
For example, if you want to let your client know about a recent update or development, rather than emailing them with the update, why not suggest a quick phone call so you can brief them and answer any questions they have about how it applies to them or their business? Not only does it provide the personal touch, but it’s an opportunity to find out what else is going on in their world, which could lead to further opportunities to work with that client.