How do you keep clients in tough, competitive times?
The expression “a bird in hand is worth more than two in the bush” should be placed on the desk of every small business owner. The moment times get tough – as they are today – grabbing new business becomes the focus. That couldn’t be more wrong. You want to keep clients to build your business.
Small business expert Neile King, vice president, Smart Online, points out it costs twice as much to gain a new customer as it does to hold on to an existing one. He adds there are six proven actions any small business can take to ensure a customer stays a customer. The key is to keep clients.
How to Keep Clients
1. Provide a Progress Report – To keep clients show your customer the work you’ve been doing and the results you’ve achieved. By giving him/her something s/he can read and react to, questions are answered and suspicions are erased. What’s more, the customer may realize s/he needs you to do additional work.
2. Meet Face-to-Face – If most of your dealings are done over the phone, make a point of holding face-to-face meetings periodically to keep clients. Meeting in person says you are interested in his/her business and it gives you an opportunity to literally see things that you can help address.
3. Avoid Jargon – Every business has its own verbal shorthand. When speaking with a customer use terms s/he can readily understand. S/he feels more comfortable and sense you’re working with him/her as a team.
4. Ask for Feedback – Never assume the customer is satisfied. Throughout the work process, ask how your customer feels about what you’re doing and show him/her by word and deed the comments are taken seriously. This will help you keep clients you already have.
5. Tune your Offering – As proud as you may be about your product, remember it’s being made for the customer. Make certain you know exactly what s/he wants, when it’s needed and more. Avoid the kind of surprises that no one likes to keep clients happy.
6. Be Open to Change – For any number of reasons customers change processes, be it terms and conditions, purchase orders, accounts payable or just about anything. Customers know s/he is valued if you show a willingness to work with him/her as much as you want him/her to work with you. Follow these six tips and you will keep clients coming back for more business!
Mr. King is vice president of Sales & Marketing at Smart Online, a software developer of best of breed applications for small business to streamline business processes, reduce operating costs, and improve internal controls. Prior to joining Smart Online, Mr. King was Director of Operations at DataFlux Corporation, a leading provider of data quality and data integration solutions for small businesses, and held management posts with Hill-Rom Company, Inc., a healthcare information technology services provider.
For more information on running a solid business, see http://www.sbomag.com/2013/05/not-having-a-business-plan-is-most-common-cause-of-start-up-failure/