How does your company do customer retention? Do you send holiday greetings or office donuts? Do you offer a loyalty program or perhaps other frequent flyer perks? Surely you don't rely on expensive gifts and nice dinners - we know you are savvier than that! We'll keep things much less political and much more simple with our favorite customer retention tips in this week's blog, and hopefully, help you to keep your customers from walking out the door.
Agencies tend to get the keys to the "new client car" and drive cross country without ever looking back. This type of enthusiasm when you takeover a new project is a good thing in terms of loving what you do and the work you provide. But sometimes your enthusiasm can leave the client in the dust. To avoid leading customers to think they've been forgotten, touch base regularly. It's likely they haven't been through the creative process before, and even if they have, it's not in their day-to-day routine like it is yours. It's not familiar. Nancy Nehlsen, business owner of over 40 years, says, "Never go more than two weeks without communicating with your customers, and even that is pushing it." Don't assume they know what is going on, but do assume it is your job to fill them in. We would rather see you overcommunicate than leave your customers wanting more. The same goes for nearly any industry; for example consumers like to know when their item from a recent order ships, track its progress and know when it hits the front door. We expect instant and frequent communication today, so find ways to offer that to your customers. How long before that design project will be ready for them to view? Is the web design taking longer than anticipated. Let them know to save misunderstandings.
There should be a saying "expectations are everything"...because they are. If you show up to a busy restaurant on a Friday night and they tell you the wait is thirty minutes but you wait sixty, you are already unhappy long before you see the menu, speak to the wait staff or experience the food. However, if you are told sixty minutes and only wait thirty, you are pleasantly surprised and going in with a positive, grateful attitude. Either scenario can shape the rest of the experience. That bias can even affect _how your food tastes_. If we know and accept this thinking, then applying it can keep us out of trouble. We are not suggesting you double the deadlines for each of your projects, but we are suggesting that, while you are overcommunicating with them, you walk each client through your creative process, reducing the chances for surprises to come up later. We prefer to save surprises for fun things, such as birthdays!
Now that you have set expectations and established a nice workflow, why not exceed those expectations from time to time? Perhaps your client has hired you for web maintenance but just didn't have the budget for social media. Let's also say that, in this scenario, the two are integrated and if something goes wrong on the social media end it could affect the website and vice versa. You can be the hero by not only being the first to alert them to the issue, but also by proactively helping them to solve it. Or what if one of your social media customers sends you something they'd like posted to Facebook and you find, after some quick research, that some of the facts were wrong? You've now spared them the trouble of confusing their followers and you've spared yourself the trouble of cleaning up a mess. Time and money are saved and everyone is happy.
Agencies and non-agencies alike have many opportunities to communicate, set expectations and then exceed those expectations. Clients are the "hand that feeds you," so shake it, high five it or fist bump it, but don't bite it! Instead, make your mark by flawlessly executing the essentials and then take the liberty of going way above and way beyond when you can. That is how you make customers for life!