Every Small Business owner, operator or employee should be aware that it costs much more to acquire a new client than retain existing ones. But old or new, client management is essential to your Small Business economic health.
A key reason Small Businesses fail is that they fail to appreciate the distinction between clients and customers, or they take their clients for granted, chasing after the sale but never following up after the payment clears. Yet there are a few simple, low-cost activities that can help you turn customers into clients, and find new business with your existing clientele, such as:
- An informative, interactive website
- Customer satisfaction surveys
- Email campaigns (and autoresponders)
- Cross-promotions and value-add upselling
- Favored client discounts
- Client loyalty cards, coupons or programs
Business is about relationships – court your clients like a romance. Remember: there is much more to client management than the sale. Otherwise, it’s just a customer relationship. A well-established brick and mortar shop can survive on “one and done” customer relationships; a service business, a startup or an online venture must attempt to capture clients – those people (or companies) that will do business with you on an ongoing basis.
Clients will support your business, well beyond spending their money with you once, and moving on to your competition (usually, without notice). To cultivate such a connection, you must get to know your clients’ needs. Examine your financial records, invoices and communications to determine:
- Who your best clients are
- How much business they do with you, on average
- What goods or services they purchase most
- What related goods or services might appeal to them.
“Customer service“, even though we’re really talking about clients, is one of the single most important overlooked practices of Small Businesses. We’re not just talking about handling complaints, and correcting the occasional error in order fulfillment. This is about developing lasting relationships that can make the difference between prosperity and bankruptcy.
These relationships BEGIN with the sale, but do not end there. If, for you, a successful purchase is the end of your active concern… that may be why your client retention rates are lower than they could be. Just as your relationships with family, friends and loved ones can go cold from neglect, you must put a sincere effort into nurturing your client relationships.
Find new ways to relate to them, but be careful of crossing into the “spam zone“. You want them to appreciate the constant contact, not dread and avoid each new phone call or email. Focus on the value you add to their lives and businesses; it’s okay if this takes some time and effort.
What have you got to lose — except opportunity, revenue… and clients?
The Henssler Financial Group Position Paper
© 2004 The Henssler Financial Group | www.henssler.com