Your agency needs an effective client retention system, plain and simple. Without one, you’ll continuously be on the search for new clients. Whenever a new project ends, you’re back out there again, chasing down leads, and pitching new work.
However, if you want your agency to easily grow, while remaining sustainable, then you’ll need to have a solid client retention system in place.
A client retention system can increase profits by helping you maintain a consistent long-term income while reducing the amount of money you’re spending on client generation.
Below you’ll learn how your agency can benefit from a client retention system, along with a few tips to help you get started, or improve your existing system.
Why Is Customer Retention Important
Recent research from Bain and Co. found that by increasing your retention rate by just 5% led to a profit increase of 25-95%. Just from a little 5% change!
You can think of customer retention like a bucket. When you have a very low customer retention rate, your bucket has holes in the bottom. You have to keep filling it just to keep it full. While, having a high customer retention rate your bucket is an actual bucket, you fill it up once, and you’re all set.
Here are a few benefits you’ll realize for your agency, once you implement a client retention system:
1. Having Returning Customers Makes Your Life Easier
When you have a returning client you cut down on a whole lot of work for yourself. For example, you don’t have to worry about the customer onboarding experience. You don’t have to worry about them accepting your proposal. You don’t have to spend hours marketing and closing deals. You don’t have to fret over whether or not they’ll be a good client.
All you have to do is start working with them on a new project, or just renew the existing contract. Expectations are already set and you can get down to work.
2. You Can Reduce Your Overall Marketing Expenses
You’ve probably heard the old adage, “it costs five times as much to retain a new customer than to keep an existing one”. Now, this might not be completely accurate, but the principles still hold true—retaining an existing client will always be cheaper than acquiring a new one.
Keeping your existing clients happy should be an integral part of your business. What would you rather spend time doing? Paid work and generating results for your clients? Or, doing endless marketing, just trying to keep your pipeline full?
3. You Can Improve Your Profits
Customers and clients that stay with you over the long run are worth more. They already trust you, you know what it’s like working together, and they’ll actually end up buying more from you.
By increasing the length of time, and how much a client spends with you, you can generate more revenue per client without spending any additional cash on marketing and onboarding.
Plus, when you have a roster of satisfied and happy clients they’ll be much more likely to send you referral business. Whether incentivized or not. Referral marketing will bring you high-quality leads that are much more likely to become solid clients over the long-term.
7 Elements of a Successful Client Retention System
Your customer retention strategy should be based on deepening your existing relationships, and profound service. Below we look at a few elements that you can incorporate into your customer retention system to improve your loyalty rates and maintain healthy agency profits.
1. Bring the Right Clients Into Your Pipeline
As an agency, your clients are the lifeblood of your business. Without clients, your agency will die.
However, filling your pipeline with clients that aren’t in alignment with your business philosophy and core values will only lead to lackluster results and a poor client relationship.
Filling your business with the wrong clients is the quickest way to kill your business.
Instead, take some time to define exactly who your preferred clients are. This will make serving those clients much easier and you’ll be inspired to do everything in your power to continue working with them over the long-term.
2. Understand and Meet Their Business Goals
It’s going to be super difficult to meet your client’s expectations if you don’t know what they are in the first place. You not only need to understand their business on a deep level. But, also have clarity surrounding what they define as a success.
It can be tempting to measure success based on what you believe makes the project a success. But, this might not mean anything to them.
See how you can shape your offering or your results based on their
By focusing your service on having shared goals. You’ll be seen as a valuable addition to their business. You’re on the same team, helping them meet the same goals.
3. Connect on a Personal Level
It can be too easy to think of our clients as numbers on a spreadsheet. This is especially true if we work in the online space and rarely meet our clients face to face.
No matter your position in the company you should think of yourself as a customer service agent. How can you connect with your client? What do you really know about them (even outside of the business context)?
Become your client’s friends, their allies, their trusted advisors.
This has a benefit of making things like project updates and progress calls something that both you and your clients look forward too.
Plus, if you are having difficulty with a project, or results are taking longer than expected they’ll be much more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt, rather than simply moving on and hiring another agency.
4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
It’s better to over-communicate than under-communicate with your clients. The last thing you want them to think is: I wonder if they’re making progress? I wonder if they actually started working on the project?
You can quell your client’s fears and anxieties by communicating all the time. Send project updates. Send over an email letting them know what you’re working on. Send them over an article you’d think they’d find interesting.
Think of your client as a friend. How would you communicate on a regular basis? What would you do for them? How would you show them that you truly care about more than the check they’re giving you?
Keep your clients in the loop about your project, while delivering value whenever possible. Also, make sure you’re continuing the thread of communication in a context that works for your client. Is their email inbox a mess? Send them a Skype or Facebook message. Are they too busy to hop on the phone? Send them a quick text.
5. Prove Your Client’s Success
You can’t expect your clients to tie the results you’re bringing them directly to your agency. So, it’s on you to prove your worth. You need to consistently demonstrate your value and show your results.
By creating regular progress reports for your clients they’ll be able to physically see the value you’re bringing to their business. These reports should be delivered on a consistent basis, without the client having to ask: what have you done for me?
By connecting your services to the tangible results and benefits of working with you, they’ll be happy to renew their contract and continue your work together.
6. Offer Time for Input and Implement Feedback
Everyone wants their voice to be heard. This includes your clients. Make sure you offer time and space for them to give feedback. Don’t just sit and wait, wondering what your clients think about working with you. Ask them.
If they’re happy with your services, then great, see how you can continue serving them and helping meet their business goals.
But, if they’re dissatisfied, then this gives you a chance to grow too. You can diagnose and solve the problem to improve their experience moving forward. Being able to continuously meet and exceed client expectations is a surefire way to develop a strong business relationship. By implementing their feedback and creating a new plan of action you can take clients on the fence and turn them into long-term prospects.
7. Give Without Expectation (Reward Their Loyalty)
By giving you can use reciprocity to create a more powerful business relationship. As humans, we like to do things for people who have done things for us. Simply doing random acts of kindness towards your clients will go a long way towards establishing a reciprocal relationship.
For example, you can use surprise reciprocity by giving your customer a free gift like company swag, a book you think they’ll enjoy, or tickets to an event in their industry. Always be thinking, how can I delight my clients?
Beyond delivering their business results your kindness will go a long way. Especially when it goes beyond the scope of your working relationship.
Hopefully, the post above has been valuable in helping you understand the importance of retaining your existing clients, and the steps you need to take to do just that.
Have you implemented any of the strategies above with great success? Please share your wins in the comments below.