Neglecting customers could cost you

Congratulations! You made the sale. That hard-earned client you’ve been wooing for years finally said yes.

What’s your next move? You work on closing the next prospect on your list – and then the one after that and the one after that.

Sound good? Here’s the problem: You’re working so hard to attract new business that you’re neglecting clients. Sending a once-a-year “check-in” email is a poor substitute for ongoing interaction that shows you appreciate them. Give them reasons to be loyal or risk losing their business.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but keeping clients is just as important as getting new ones. Increasing customer retention rates by a mere 5 percent boosts profits by more than 25 percent, according to a Bain & Co. study. A solid retention strategy should include sharing valuable, relevant and educational insights that help customers solve business challenges. Prove that you want their businesses to succeed as much as they do.

Follow these three steps for success:

  1. Segment customers

Don’t take the easy (lazy) way out and try to cover a broad range of needs by giving your customers catchall, generic material. Divide them into groups and provide targeted, continuous content that speaks to their unique challenges and interests.

Don’t have enough background? Ask questions to learn more about them as well as their business needs. You can accomplish this with surveys (make them anonymous to encourage participation), phone interviews, webinars and face-to-face meetings.

  1. Create evergreen content

Build a library of high-quality, educational content in several formats so your customers can choose to access it in the ways they prefer. Focus on them – not you – and provide solutions they wouldn’t be able to find on their own. The more you can help them with their customers, the better.

You can also send weekly or monthly emails that contain top solutions, cool hacks and best tips based on what your customers are asking for and the problems they’re encountering. Package these insights creatively so they don’t get lost in their inboxes.

Another way of engaging customers is to give them access to “behind-the-scenes” content. For example, you could share takeaways from conferences, interviews with industry leaders and articles about business trends/regulations and how to prepare for them.

  1. Nurture long-term relationships

Enhance your customer relationships by forming advisory boards. These show you value customers’ perspective and input, help you identify product and service gaps, validate strategy and development, and gain customer advocates, among other benefits.

It’s also a good idea to meet with other customers face-to-face as often as you can. At a minimum, schedule annual reviews to gather feedback. If budget or other constraints are an issue, schedule 30-minute phone calls with them.

These initiatives can also build customer engagement:

  • Schedule guest speakers to give advice on topics that will interest your customers and invite them to the speaking engagements.
  • Hold customer appreciation events.
  • Acknowledge them with birthday cards, thank-you cards and inexpensive gifts.
  • Express gratitude for their business throughout the year – not just when they sign up with you.
  • Ask for feedback with surveys and follow up to show you are listening.

Finally, look for any drops or declines in business and step in quickly to address the issues. If you’ve been nurturing your customer relationships, you shouldn’t have any surprises.

Win their business year after year

Getting the sale isn’t enough – it’s just the start. Keep customers by helping them reach their goals and providing timely, helpful insights that show you understand their challenges and motivations. You’ll enhance your relationships with them and increase your chances for repeat sales.

How healthy are your customer relationships? Do you have a retention strategy? Let us know in the comments below.

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