We hear a lot about creating customer loyalty these days. This should not be a complicated concept, but for it to truly succeed requires a company to have a “client-first” strategy. Now, as an aside, I am assuming your firm already produces a superior work product. However, delivering a top-notch work product is not enough. Competitive, economic and other factors require a company to be increasingly creative and focused on differentiating themselves. Having a client-first strategy is paramount, and the payoff is tremendous: loyal clients, more referrals, happy employees with thriving client relationships and increased visibility in the marketplace. All of these things work together to create additional revenue growth.
To create an individual client-first strategy, start with simple relationship management tools: meetings, emails, lunches – whatever works for you. Consider your elevator speech before reaching out. What is your “value proposition”? How do you add value and what is your area of expertise? This is a 15-30 second opportunity to explain who you are, what you do and how you can help. However, the key to creating a lasting strategy and thus customer loyalty, is to have the processes and procedures in place to be consistent. Technology can be used to complement your relationship building efforts but, you cannot rely on technology alone: email blasts, mass event invitations, websites etc. Technology should be used to make your client relationship strategy more efficient and hopefully, effective.
Here are some tips and tricks for building customer loyalty:
- Care about your clients; Find out what is important to them: Support and understand their professional and personal priorities.
- Create a dialogue; Calendar it, schedule it, act on it.
- Keep in touch/consistent engagement; See 1 and 2. Think about what is useful to them. This can sometimes be the hardest part. But, if you have done step 2 and put a reminder in your calendar or created a simple spreadsheet or used your CRM system, this is much easier.
- Be responsive! Respond in a timely manner (within a day!) to emails and phone calls.
- Provide personalized service; Design and deliver a work product that meets their needs and unique requirements in a timely and efficient manner.
- Measure client service levels; Follow up for feedback.
- Ask for referrals.
- If you don’t get to 5 check in at 1.
About the Author
Shari Robinson in the founding partner of Client Development Strategies which uses successful client-focused business development and marketing methodologies to increase revenue. She creates processes to drive these behaviours throughout a firm.