HOW TO MANAGE CLIENT RETENTION ?
‘It cost 5 to 10 times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep a current customer satisfied’
This quote is from Dr. Philip Kotler (2005) who is a famous marketing consultant and author considered as ‘father of modern marketing’.
No doubt this is very essential knowledge that any marketer should not ignore.
Every business takes their customers or clients as a primary priority especially for business owner who just established their company. This blog is going to describe how a young and newly founded company gets returning clients by interviewing Ms. Pham Dinh Duy Thanh – Online marketing manager of SiliconeStraits Company.
Even though, her main position in company is an online marketing manager but she also works an account executive who takes responsibilities for dealing with the clients.
She asserts her company is newly founded in 2011 but they aim to turn into a case of successful startup company which means the company will grow rapidly and really big in a short time. Ms Thanh claims that ‘other people must see us as very ambitious and a little bit illusive. However, we dare to think big and believe that we’re going to get it.’ When I heard her sharing, I thought that they would put effort and money on advertising their company name then set a main goal as growing client quantity as much as possible. On other hand, Ms Thanh points out that ‘as a rule, we are new so it’s very difficult for us to approach our prospects. We must try five times harder than other existing companies in this field to find and win our clients.
With a perspective of people graduated from marketing field, she understands the most important marketing strategy is how to get client retention. According to a recent report from Bain & Company named ‘Prescription for Cutting Costs’ (2011), ‘a 5% increase in customer retention increases profits up to 125%’ (Daye, D 2013).
Thanh shares that this job is completely different from what she used to work in her previous positions. In her last companies, they already ‘matured’ with various networking and relationships. They have enough resources to earn big projects. When working at a startup company, she has to work hardly both day and night to find someone who has interests on company’s services. After persuading them, her mission is to satisfy her client expectations and retain them for later business.
In the next section, Ms Thanh will share with us some of her advises on how to make client return for her special case as a young and newly established company.
Reproduce from Author
Good communication skills
She emphasizes that ‘when people doing their business, especially related to communication-oriented field like me, the vital factor that decides ‘win or lose’ must be how you communicate with your clients.’
Communication skills here must include listening skill, reflecting skill and negotiation skill.
An outstanding service-deliver must be an empathy listener. The very first step to build a good relationship with your client is to show your respect on clients. For instance, in a conversation, you show that you are willing to listen to their demands, questions, feelings, or even issues. Not only listening but also understanding and standing on their side too. The message from this action could be read as you are here to help your clients solve any problem that exists. Obviously, it would broader ‘comfortable zone’ between you and your clients. With her experiences on working with clients, she really makes this quote as her best advice ever: ‘Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking’ (Baruch, B n.n).
Furthermore, negotiation skill cannot underestimate when you work with your clients. Ms Thanh says ‘the negotiation process I make when dealing with client is not 100% the same with what we used to learn at university knowledge. Sometime, I have to low my company profit to win a pitch. It depends on that pitch and that relevant relationship is potential and worthy for a temporary ‘loses’ or not’. Negotiation is a good way to harmonize both clients and agency benefits. A perfect case is where two sides finally come out with a ‘win-win’ situation.
Trust is the most significant factor contributing to build a long-term relationship. To gain trust from client, there are several practical tips.
- Be an integrity account
Ms Thanh affirms ‘clients will always appreciate your integrity’. As Solomon (2008) asserts that ‘the high-integrity account person takes ownership of problems. Without a sense of ownership, you will not take responsibility for delivering for your clients, and you will not step up when things go wrong. Your colleagues won’t respect you, and your client won’t trust you’.
- Be willing to learn new things:
It is very useful way to gain your client’s trust when you understand clearly about your client fields. You are not supposed to be an expert but at least you need to research about their markets, products, competitors and among other things. You can go further to learn about their strengths and weakness. Ms Thanh demonstrates that ‘you should be your ‘client’s guru’. As long as you get what they need then they will come back to your company.’ It’s similar to Korff’s saying (2012) ‘the more you know about their business, the more they’ll feel that you’re a part of it, and the more likely they’ll be encouraged to continue working with you.’
Doing excellent job
This advice is easy to tell but not really easy to execute. You have to offer the best services and attempts as much as you can to satisfy you client expectations (assumed that they’re reasonable expectations).
Ms Thanh shares some of her experiences to earn client satisfactions that ‘you should show you and your team working performance as much professional as you can. It means you finish what you promise with high quality result. You accomplish what client request/ deadline in time. Don’t be afraid of complaints. Just trying to get prove that you are willing to change and make up for your mistakes.’
One more her sharing is about giving client’s extra services. She states that because of a young and not famous company, she really concentrates on some things bigger than just money which is a good relationship with clients. ‘We need to image for a big picture, we need to give to receive more’ (Thanh, 2013).
Proof of life (Photo taken by Doan Trang)
Daye, D 2013, ‘18 Customer facts marketers can’t ignore’, Brandingstrategyinsider, viewed 29 August 2013, <http://www.brandingstrategyinsider.com/2013/02/18-customer-facts-marketers-cant-ignore.html#.Uik3oMaNk1I>
Dwyer, J 2005, Communication in Business, 3rd ed, Pearson, Australia, pp.77-78.
Korff, A 2012, ‘Tips for building trust with your clients’, Sixrevisions, viewed 29 August 2013, < http://sixrevisions.com/project-management/tips-build-trust-clients/>
Kotler, P, Armstrong, G, Ang, S, Leong, s, Tan, C, KTse, D, 2005, Principles of Marketing: An Asian perspective, Prentice Hall, pp.13
Solomon, R 2008, The art of client service, 1st ed, Kaplan, New York, pp.173
A quote from Bernard Baruch (1870-1965) – an American financer and political consultant: ‘Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking’