Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
In an episode of Mad Men, Don Draper and Roger Sterling both responded to the loss of a client by saying, “The day you sign a client is the day you start losing them.” While I don’t share their negative attitude about client retention, I also understanding that losing clients is an unavoidable part of running a business. Even if you’re always on you’re A-game and always going above and beyond to exceed expectations, you will still lose customers. It’s just the way it is.
So, the question then becomes, what do you do when you lose a client? Here are some tips to guide you through this challenging time.
- Speak with the client—If at all possible, get a meeting with the defecting client. Try to find out exactly why they are leaving you (this may take some digging; oftentimes, clients hide the truth) and if there is anything you can do to win them back, whether that’s right now or at some point in the future.
- Identify where you went wrong—You must see this as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and avoid them in the future. Take the client’s feedback and do your own analysis to figure out exactly where things went wrong in the relationship. When a client leaves you, it’s usually not a snap decision. It’s usually something that builds up over time, so if you can identify your mistakes, you can avoid them in the future and also watch for the warning signs of a client’s departure.
- Assess the financial impact—Not all clients are the same. Some losses will be great; others might not really matter all that much. You need to assess the financial impact of the client’s departure immediately. Will the loss have a major impact on profitability and cash flow?
- Find short-term fixes while creating long-term solutions—If the loss of a client creates a major impact on profitability and cash flow, you need to start finding solutions to reduce the fallout immediately. This may mean identifying some short-term fixes while you’re working on a better long-term solution. You may need to cut back spending temporarily, run a promotion to generate cash flow, or take on clients that aren’t necessarily your dream clients just so you can keep your business running.
- Contact other clients—Now is the time to make sure your relationships with your other clients are still okay. You can’t afford to lose another client at this precarious moment.
- Get new clients fast—You can’t afford to wait for new business to come rolling in. You have to generate it yourself, and you have to do it fast. Ask for referrals, pump up your PPC campaign, do some cold calling…do whatever it takes to get new business fast.
What are your tips for responding to the loss of a client?
Thursday, April 19th, 2012
Is your website useless? I mean, is it really doing anything for your company? Or is it just taking up space in the digital wasteland?
Unfortunately, many businesses have useless websites. The typical company launches a website without much thought. They do it because they’re supposed to have one, but they don’t put any effort into making it special or effective on any level.
Here are 5 common warning signs that a website is useless.
- You expect people to come just because you’ve built it—Just because you have a website doesn’t mean people will visit it. There are billions of websites out there. Why would anyone visit yours? You have to promote your website if you want to get traffic. Otherwise, your website will just sit there and not serve a purpose.
- Your website isn’t optimized for the search engines—Search engine optimization is no longer optional; it’s essential. If your website isn’t optimized for the search engines, no one will ever find it. Even if your website looks great, it won’t matter because you won’t attract traffic. You must focus on optimizing your website and ranking for relevant search terms.
- Your content is all about you—Yes, it’s your website, but that doesn’t mean the content should be self-serving. Instead of talking all about yourself, shift the conversation to talk to your customers. Your content needs to address the customer’s needs. It needs to answer their questions, earn their trust, and provide them with value.
- You have no calls to action—Smart marketers know that a website’s success isn’t just measured in the number of clicks it gets. No, your website’s true success will be measured in how many conversions it gets. If your website isn’t generating leads or sales, it’s not doing its job. And to get those conversions (leads and sales), you must have a strong call to action on each page of your website. Let visitors know exactly what it is that you want them to do (e.g. fill out a form, place an order, call you, etc.).
- You don’t have analytics plugged in—If you don’t have analytics hooked up to your website, there’s no way you can measure your site’s performance. Use Google Analytics to monitor activity as it happens on your site, so you can see what’s working and what’s not.
Take an honest look at your website. Is it useless?
Friday, April 6th, 2012
You might not say it, but you know that not all your customers are created equal. Some bring more value to your business than others. And you know that the key to really growing your business is to increase loyalty among your top customers, so you can keep your best customers and attract more like them.
But relationships are tricky. Keeping your best customers happy and loyal is going to take some work on your part. It’s just like any other relationship. You can’t just ignore your wife, husband, girlfriend, or boyfriend and expect everything to be hunky dory; you have to put time and effort into keeping the relationship strong.
With a romantic partner, that might mean going out on a date or just spending quiet time together talking, but how can you keep the spark alive with a customer?
- Keep regular contact—You can’t build a relationship without communication. Think about it. If you go a long time without seeing or speaking to a friend, things just aren’t the same when you see them again, right? The relationship weakens without regular communication. That’s why you have to keep in touch with your best customers. Check in with them regularly, connect with them on Twitter and Facebook, send them holiday cards, invite them to events…do whatever you have to do to stay in touch so the relationship doesn’t fizzle out.
- Always deliver above and beyond expectations—One of the keys to keeping a romantic relationship fresh and exciting is to “wow” your partner from time to time by doing something truly amazing for them. The same goes for keeping customer relationships strong. You have to “wow” customers every time, and the best way to do this is to always exceed expectations. Give them an experience they’ll never forget.
- Ask for feedback—Show your best customers that you care what they think by asking for their feedback. They can suggest ways to make your company even better. Just make sure that you’re actually taking their feedback into consideration and implementing the good ideas; otherwise, it’s all for nothing.
- Reward them—Loyalty should be rewarded. There are many different ways you can reward your best customers, including giving them discounts, service/product upgrades, exclusive information, and much more.
What do you do to keep relationships strong with your best customers?
Thursday, April 5th, 2012
Even if you handle most of your client communications via email or other digital methods (such as social media), you likely have to speak to clients on the phone at least occasionally. And it’s in your best interest to make sure that you have great phone calls with clients…phone calls that don’t consist of two people trying to talk over each other, awkward pauses, or incoherent mumbling.
With that in mind, I’ve come up with some tips that will help you communicate more effectively with clients on the phone.
- Stop saying “umm..”—You probably don’t even realize how many times in a typical conversation you say things like “umm…,” “uh…,” “you know…,” and “like…” When you say these things, it makes you sound unprofessional, unsure, and unreliable. You have to cut these weaknesses from your verbal communications.
- Be a good listener—Too many times, people on the phone are just waiting for their chance to speak. They’re not even listening to what the other person is saying, but rather, they’re thinking about what they’re about to say. You have to be a good listener if you want to have a good phone conversation.
- Avoid speaking at the same time—There’s nothing more annoying than when someone on the other end of the phone is interrupting you and trying to speak over you. It makes it impossible to hear anything. If the client starts speaking at the same time you start speaking, pause and let them go ahead.
- Take notes—If you don’t take notes during your phone call, you’ll likely forget at least some of the details of the conversation. This means that the whole conversation will have been a waste of time, and you’ll have to talk about the same things over again.
- Sound interested—Tone of voice is incredibly important on phone calls because the person on the other end of the phone has no visual clues to go by. So, if you don’t sound interested in the conversation, they’re going to take it as a sign of disrespect. This can be especially tough if you’re multitasking while on the phone or just tired from a long, boring call. You have to project your enthusiasm and interest.
Any tips you’d add to this list? Leave a comment below.
Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
Most companies think they know which features and benefits customers are interested in when buying the products and services they offer. The truth? They don’t have a clue. Most companies are simply guessing, and they’re getting it wrong. As a result, their marketing focuses on the wrong features and benefits, and it doesn’t get results.
How can you find out what your customers really want? How can you get your hands on their true “wish list” of features and benefits that they want in the products and services you offer?
- Read reviews and testimonials for the type of products you offer—You can start out by looking at any reviews or testimonials that might be available for your products, but you should also check out reviews of competitors’ products as well. What do most customers seem to like? What are some of the things they complain about? This will give you an idea of what they really want.
- Monitor your target audience on social media—Connect with your customers on Twitter and Facebook. Pay close attention to everything they say. You’ll be able to learn more about their likes and dislikes.
- Survey them—Create a carefully-crafted survey that helps you get a better idea of what your customers really want. To get the best response to your survey, give customers an incentive for completing it.
- Crowdsource your idea generation—How does Dell get ideas for new products and product improvements? They crowdsource their idea generation on their IdeaStorm website. Here, customers can post ideas for products and services and the community can vote on which ideas they think are best.
- Split test—Setup landing pages for your product. Highlight different product features and benefits on each version and see which page performs best.
What are some of the tactics you use to find out what your customers really want? Share them by leaving a comment below.