Five Techniques for Keeping Clients
The goal of a retention strategy is to create loyalty and to motivate customers to award you new business. Loyalty is fostered first and foremost by providing quality products and services. In addition, it is built on overall satisfaction and on the perceived strength of the relationship between you and the client. But loyalty doesn’t come naturally. You have to work to develop it. Here are five strategies for creating greater client satisfaction and loyalty:
1. Speed of Response
Research has shown that the single biggest contributing factor to customer dissatisfaction is not returning phone calls quickly. Clients know how busy you are. They don’t care. We live in a world where, for better or worse, speed matters. You don’t need to provide the answers immediately. But you need to make them believe that you’re concerned. The faster your response, the more customers believe that you’re acting in their best interest. To be specific, when it comes to returning phone calls, mitigating circumstances excepted, two hours is a good number. End of day also works. Two days, you’re stretching it. It’s no longer speed.
2. Client Research
The guiding principle of client-centered marketing is: “Ask not what your client can do for you, ask what you can do for your client.” The best way to learn what makes clients happy is to ask – they’ll tell you what they want and what they don’t. Whether you obtain information through informal conversations or written client satisfaction surveys, this information can help you manage relationships with current clients and restore relationships with past clients.
3. Ongoing Communications
Whether it’s through a printed or an online bulletin (or if you have time, a newsletter) ongoing communications that represents the range of products and services you offer can provide a reminder of your value and reinforce your relationship. Even if they don’t read it all, or at all, it’s a way of touching a current or past client when you’re not there. Ongoing communications can help position your firm, give you credibility and play an integral part role in your referral efforts. Most important, bulletins and newsletters can help your clients. If you can communicate valuable information, you have increased the perceived value of being a client of your firm.
4. Keep the Paper Coming
In particular, services are intangible. That is, you can’t see or touch them. Thus, it’s critical at every opportunity to make your benefits more tangible. Status reports and copies of letters give clients evidence that you’re “on the case.” And if you don’t have a tangible representation of what you’re doing, you can send articles on relevant issues from the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, or legal journals that let them know you’re thinking about them. A lawyer I know who does a great job at this, has a special card that he attaches to articles he sends. The card says, “Here’s something I thought you’d find interesting.” It has his contact information and usually a brief personal note.
When clients come into your office, make it a point to introduce them to at least one other member of the firm and to talk about that person’s specialties or strengths. Make connections. Develop the relationship. Loyalty is built on both chemistry and knowledge. The more they know about you and your firm and the more people they know in your firm, the more likely they will be to use you.