Too often, we expect our clients to remain clients without any effort on our part. We expect prospects will one day wake up and realize how much they need our products or services. We think our referral sources will always want to send business our way. But just like the relationships we develop with friends and family, these relationships take work as well.
A study by The American Society of Quality Control (ASQC) revealed that 68% of customers chose another company because they felt ignored. That's a huge number of people who chose someone else's product or service just because someone didn't take the time to show attention and appreciation.
Stay in Touch
If you are a small business or a new startup, you may only have a handful of clients. For you, staying in touch can be a simple task. A phone call once a week or a monthly luncheon may be all it takes to reinforce and validate your client relationships.
If you are a larger organization and have a large number of clients, using an email newsletter to share relevant news and information is a good way to keep your company at the top of your clients' minds on a regular basis.
Another idea I like is to send one personal email each day to a different client. It doesn't take much time (less than 10-15 minutes) to write a short message to inquire about your client's business or offer an idea or suggestion to assist with a project or opportunity you have discussed in the past. This is not a sales pitch and this email is not about you. This is a chance for you to reconnect with a valued client and to remind them that their business is important to you.
You're Not The Only Game in Town
Unless you have finally discovered the secret to cold fusion, chances are there is someone else offering the same product or service as yourself. Sometimes the only competitive advantage you have is the relationships you build with your customers. If you aren't already staying in touch with your customers, it's a safe bet your competition is. The same ASQC study showed that 9% of customers left a business because they were lured away by the competition. If those customers had felt valued, they may not have felt compelled to leave.
Finish What You Start
Whether you choose personal emails, lunch meetings or some other method to reconnect with your clients, the key is to be consistent. A single email or phone call isn't enough. You need to make sure that whatever plan you put in place for customer retention is sustainable. Make sure you have the time and resources to communicate with your clients on a regular basis because not following through can be worse than never starting at all.