“Will you walk into my parlor?”
Getting a client takes a lot of time, motivation and resources. Now that you have the client, how do you keep them coming back for more?
Image: William Cho, Creative Commons
Being a business owner means keeping your best foot forward throughout the entire process to be sure they’ll talk about you or use you again. Making sure your clients are being taken care of while not taking advantage of you is the key.
Set expectations upfront
Make sure your client knows everything they’ll be receiving from and giving to you in the first meeting. Give them the full 4-1-1 on how you operate, your timeline for delivery, milestones for payments, and items they need to give you throughout the process.
If a client has their expectations set from the beginning, it’s hard for them to complain when you deliver just what you said you would.
Have a detailed agreement
People have been saying for years “the customer is always right.” As business owners we know that’s not true.
I believe we should change that to “the customer is always the customer.”
The first step of taking care of your customer is having a signed agreement in place detailing everything you will be providing along with everything they’re expected to provide. This protects them from getting less than they agreed to and protects you from having to give them more than you expected.
Be prepared to give a little
Although you have a detailed agreement you will still be asked to give a little to ensure the customer experience is up to par with their expectations. If the client isn’t fully happy with what they’ve received, realize you may have to put in extra time to appease them.
Being too stiff can cause you to lose your client or not tell others about your great products or services.
Don’t let the client walk all over you
In the same vein of giving a little, make sure your client doesn’t take license to walk all over you and your staff. Even though you set expectations upfront, giving a little sometimes gives clients the feeling you’re a pushover.
Reiterate what your agreement states and make sure they realize you have already gone above and beyond. If they continue to do so, they might not be a good client for you.
Be aware of the signals from the beginning and choose clients wisely in the future.
Up-sell to benefit the client
Up-selling typically benefits your company, but it should really benefit your client most of all. The initial meeting can flesh out a lot of what your client needs but other things will come up during the process of taking care of them that you can make a point of letting them know you also offer. Be sure you don’t try to sell them services they don’t need, as most business owners will realize your scheme.
If they feel you have their best interests at heart they will sing your praises for taking care of them.
Send a thank you card
Thank you cards are a nice touch as they are more personal than sending an email or just thanking them over the phone. Hand-written thank you cards are so rarely sent anymore that the recipient will typically hang it up near their desk.
Custom-branded cards are a great reminder of your business when they need to share your info with their colleagues or call you to discuss something new they’d like to do.
Send a survey
A short survey asking questions about your services or products gives your clients the chance to tell you how you and your staff did taking care of them. This gives them the power of suggestion to help you do things better, or a way to give you a reference you can use when finding new clients.
SurveyGizmo is a free service that allows you to setup a survey, which you can send directly to them through a link.
Keep them on your mailing list
Your regular newsletter will have new products or services along with reminders of things you’ve done which will keep you at the top of their mind.
You can also use these to feature your clients and the work you’ve done for them.
This gives them the sense that you really cared about their company and how you helped them. Stroking an ego is never a bad thing.
- Lori Saitz aka Zen Rabbit on the power of following up with customers
- How to become the “go to” person for your clients, again from Lori (there’s a reason she’s our customer service guru)
- Mayra Ruiz-McPherson on “PR drivel”
Melanie Spring is the principal and project director at Sisarina Inc., and an avid fan of Women Grow Business. An expert networker, Melanie and Sisarina connect individuals and companies with the tools they need to market and promote their brand successfully and efficiently. Connect with her on Twitter where she’s @sisarina.