Every business wants to grow and reach the top of its sector, it's natural for an ambitious and forward-thinking company, but what many forget is that it's the customers and clients that you pick up along the way who help to shape the path you take and the speed at which you’re able to grow.
The very first customer or client is arguably the most important you will ever have. They’re the ones who you go home to your family and tell them about, bursting with pride that you’ve made your first sale or on-boarded your first customer. All of the hard work and investment along the way has led to this moment and makes it all worthwhile, but for a lot of businesses this is where things can go downhill.
Once you’ve got a taste of success you naturally crave more, especially in business. You always want to get your next client through the door and to start investing in new staff, equipment and premises so that you can grow and reach the next level.
Chasing the next big client win should never be discouraged, but ensuring that your client retention policy is as seen as every bit important as your overall growth strategy is imperative if you’re going to be successful. Here we’re going to explain just what makes client retention so important, and why it needs to play a key role in your overall growth strategy.
Why client retention has to be part of your growth strategy
When times have been so uncertain, and we’ve never known anything like the past twelve months in our lifetimes, it’s more important than ever to stick to what you know. Sure, many of us have learned new skills and taken up new hobbies during lockdown, but the processes that have served us well for so many years - and the kind of things we’ve missed - are vitally important, and the same is true in business.
A lot of companies have been forced to adapt in order to survive. We know of tech companies developing parts for ventilators, and manufacturing companies creating face masks and coverings, but for those who have maintained the same working patterns over the last year it’s been vital to retain as many clients as possible.
With new business opportunities, in some areas, hard to come by because of budget cuts and simply a lack of work out there, client retention has been the difference between furloughing staff and making them redundant in some cases. Knowing that the work is still there for them to come back to has given employees and business owners alike hope of some kind of normality in the near future, and client retention strategies have formed the foundations of all new growth strategies.
Short-term contracts or one-off projects might be great for getting some business through the door, providing a much-needed boost in revenue, but it’s only a short-term fix. It’s a plaster on a huge crack in the wall rather than a long-term repair.
If you factor client retention into your growth strategy you have the ability to secure a new contract and work with them in the future to achieve their objectives as well as your own. Looking after those who have got you to where you are will aid your reputation and enable you to even pitch new opportunities to them based on previous performance.
However, if you overlook client retention, you risk always taking one step forward and one or even two steps back. Striving for that next big contract is great in terms of overall growth, but taking your eyes off the ball could result in damage to your reputation by overlooking the work you already have on your desk. As mentioned previously, these are the clients who got you excited initially and you should always value those who helped you get to where you are today. Without them, you would still be searching for that first contract. They enabled you to shape your business and plan its future, so make sure that they’re with you for the long haul, not an initial burst like a lockdown hobby cast aside as the country reopens.
The added potential of client retention
Of course, there are extra benefits available to you if you can keep your existing clients happy by servicing them in the best way possible. Each business owner has his or her connections in the business world, brought about through industry events and conferences, suppliers, even former colleagues; and this means that you have the potential to access each and every name in their little black book of contacts.
Testimonials, case studies and word-of-mouth referrals are the best way that you can build up a reputation and grow your business without putting any effort whatsoever into a growth strategy. Doing a great job for your existing clients doesn’t just fulfill a contractual obligation, it also helps to promote your business, team and range of services because when others see what a great job you’re doing it’s something that sticks in their minds.
A happy customer is always likely to refer you to others, and it’s the same in all walks of life when you think about it. If you enjoy a meal at a certain restaurant, you tell your friends and social media followers about it. If you find a great deal online you might post about it, or tell your friends and family where to find the same offer. Referrals are incredibly important and immensely valuable, and an incredible opportunity for you to grow your business by eventually pitching to an already-engaged contact who has a testimonial to call upon from a friendly and reliable source.
Testimonials, as we’ve already touched on, are a great way of getting this information in front of your audience. Similarly to word-of-mouth referrals, a testimonial is a unique piece of content published on your site that has been submitted by a customer or client explaining how your services have helped them, and their opinion on your service and brand as a whole. This is how a lot of partnership programmes actually get started, and can develop into particularly lucrative business arrangements between happy clients and happy service providers. It may even be that you go into business on certain projects where your two skill sets overlap, which doesn’t just mean that you retain a client but add a client, too.
So there you have it. Keeping all of your existing clients is every bit as important as attracting new ones, and you have the opportunity to develop a small contract into a much larger one if you’re doing a great job.