Where’s the Beef?
No one ever likes losing a customer or client, especially when they leave for the wrong reasons or never share any of their doubt or discontent about your product or service. We often mistake no news for good news, but many people actually prefer the door to the daunting prospect of sharing their discontent.
Sharing their discontent with you, that is. They have no problem sharing with all their colleagues.
This problem is more common among consumers of services than actual products. With a physical product, if something doesn’t perform as a customer expected, they can return or exchange it. Consulting services, like those we provide at (W)right On Communications, require more proactive communication with clients to increase their understanding of the work product and value of the outcomes. And whether you’re in the communications consulting field or a seller of world-class widgets, the following five communication steps can increase client satisfaction and build client loyalty.
The Plan’s the Thing
As a service provider, it is important to establish upfront a client’s needs and expectations and how you plan to meet (and hopefully exceed!) them. Agreeing on a well-defined set of goals and objectives makes evaluation of your services turnkey. Documenting this communication in a plan of action keeps everyone on the same page.
Don’t Stop Thinkin’ About Tomorrow
With a plan in place, you can grow your relationship with your client by bringing to their attention relevant current events and new ideas that could impact their business. This is a value-added service you can provide that demonstrates what you bring to their team. If your contribution becomes an action item that requires amendments to the original plan, advise your client of the financial implications upfront.
Just Do It
One of the biggest benefits you can bring to the party is the ability to get things done. Find ways to solve problems apart from relying on the client for an assist. And meeting deadlines is a must. Lingering projects for any reason lead to apathy about your value and a lack confidence in your ability.
Making Dollars Make Sense
When a client complains about the bill, it means they are not fully aware of all the benefits they are receiving from you so they don’t understand the value. It’s up to you to continually communicate the benefits of your service. That can take the form of regular progress reports with measurable metrics (you can even send this with the bill). Periodically meeting with your client to review the bills gives them a chance to ask questions and for you to describe the value-added services that are often not reflected on the bill. This also gives your client the opportunity to clarify what kind of outcomes they are expecting so that there is no miscommunication.
Three Little Words
Checking in with your client from time to time is the easiest way to diffuse percolating issues. Simply asking, “How’s it going?” can initiate a meaningful dialogue that leads to good will (maybe even an accolade or two) or course corrections in advance of a crisis situation.
In a digital world, it’s easy to think we’re having conversations because we’re communicating with one another. But there’s no substitute for being in the moment with a live, back and forth, give and take conversation with real-time facial expressions and tangible emotional engagement.
And remember – it’s cheaper to keep a client than to find a new one. Beyond lost revenue, you’ve just cost yourself the time and resources to cultivate new business.