The ability to retain clients may be the single biggest factor to a business’s lasting success. But what exactly does it take to build and maintain these crucial long-term relationships?
Based on our experiences, we humbly submit our top 5 rules:
#1 Do everything clients ask Simply put, there isn’t anything one shouldn’t be willing to do for a client. No request is so small that it’s beneath you; none so large that you shouldn’t be able to tackle it. Of course, doing what’s asked starts with good listening, so formally solicit feedback after every major project and informally at other times.
#2 But do more than they ask What really makes a supplier indispensable is surprising and delighting clients with ideas that save them additional time and money. So if you see that your client’s budgeting process is very time-consuming, create a tool to help them get through it. If they’re understaffed, offer to take managerial tasks off their plate during peak times. It’s just a matter of paying attention, recognizing unspoken needs and proactively coming up with solutions.
#3 Push them creatively Creative is tricky. If a company always does exactly what their client is comfortable with, pleasing them perfectly project-by-project, after a while their work will start to seem stale. So it’s important to never stop pushing the boundaries, challenging yourself as you challenge them and keeping things fresh.
#4 Be a low cost leader Being perceived as expensive is the shortest trip to a business review. So invest in technology that holds process costs down and lets you keep your prices low. Negotiate preferred rates with vendors and pass the savings on. Depart from industry norms and innovate a new pricing model if it will bring greater value to your clients. And send them regular reports spelling out everything you’re doing to save them money. Above all, price fairly—every client interaction shouldn’t be seen as an opportunity to extract more dollars.
#5 Treat them as partners Clients entrust us with a vital part of their business’s success and stake their own reputations on working with us. They should be treated with the utmost respect as professionals and human beings and never doubt that we always have their best interests at heart.
Do these things and clients will reward you with years of loyalty, perhaps even their friendship. Many of ours certainly have—and we could not be more grateful to each and every one of them.
For more ideas about keeping clients for life, click here.