There's a reason the average client retention rate in professional services is 84%. One of the biggest factors in a service industry is how happy clients are with your work. While a "get the job done" mentality is essential, the key to excellence is becoming a true partner to your clients.
Let's explore how to clear a path for business growth via the superpower of client partnership.
Your existing customers are your primary source of future revenue. A classic Bain & Company study showed that a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profitability by 25%. But building the kind of relationships that keep clients coming back requires a lot of legwork.
The following are five ways to maintain mutually respectful and beneficial relationships with those you love to serve.
The foundation of any partnership is continuous communication. Regular status reports make your business visible and keep the conversation going during and after a project.
The ideal frequency for active project status reports is at least weekly. It can help to create a work plan with weekly milestones that correspond with when you'll be reaching out to the client.
TIP: Status updates may not be relevant if you're between projects or off retainer, but there's immense value in sending monthly or quarterly check-ins. Stick with the basics of strong client relationships and never let them forget you're ready to provide solutions when they need you.
Don’t just solve the direct problem your clients bring to you. Help them brainstorm ideas about their tangential challenges, and encourage them to reach out to you for related items.
To get to this point, you'll want to extend your exploration beyond what they'd expect from a typical service provider. Sometimes, people reveal their biggest struggles in casual conversation.
TIP: Train your employees to be solution seekers. Grant them the autonomy to refer clients to other people in your network or offer additional services you may reserve for exclusive situations.
If you make a mistake during a project, own it. Tell your client what happened and what you're doing to fix it. Having a heart-to-heart is more effective than jumping to conclusions and avoiding the issue.
People appreciate honesty, even if it means hearing tough news. It'll be even more well-received if you offer a way to make good on your original promise.
TIP: Follow the principles of healthy boundaries to ensure you don't go too far in trying to make up for what's happened.
Coaching has been a common practice in the business world for decades for good reason: it works.
In essence, coaching is standing side-by-side with someone to help them learn new things. You aren't lecturing. You aren't doing it for them. You're showing them how to work effectively.
TIP: Avoid assumptions and prevent client churn by asking for regular feedback.
As your business grows, you may spend less dedicated time with each client. It's important to continue to make an effort to understand them individually, whether that means implementing new touchpoints or giving your team the tools they need to personalize interactions.
When you learn all you can about someone's story, you can offer thoughtful assistance.
TIP: Gather insights about your current clients with these easy research tips.
Still feel overwhelmed at the thought of having to maintain a true partnership with each and every client? We've got even more practical ideas for how to retain and delight your clients.