How To: 18 Ways To Massively Improve Your Client Retention
Client retention is basically a fancy term of describing how you get clients to stay with you and invest in your services. What’s your process? Do you have one? You know you probably should!
And how do you persuade clients that they should pick you, over thousands of competitors?
I think the answer to that is to show them a) that you’re awesome at what you do; and b) give ‘em some love and show them that they’re special. Everyone loves feeling special, right?
Moreover, clients that feel secure and happy working with you are much more likely to a) work with you again, and b) ding! ding! refer you to their networks. And that’s the kind of long-term strategy you need to focus on.
Okay, so let’s chat about 18 ways to massively improve your client retention rates...
1. Give away loads of free info
Write a blog or a newsletter (or both!) and give your potential clients loads of free, no obligation information. People always appreciate free help, and it helps convince potential clients that you’re the real deal.
2. Respond to every email
Timely responses matter, whether it’s a long term client or a new one; they’ll value your professionalism when you reply on time and to every email they send to you. Even an acknowledgement or a friendly ‘No worries’ shows you’re on the ball and reliable.
3. Be friendly, helpful and professional
A friendly, positive and proactive attitude is one of the best things you can provide new clients. They will feel reassured and happy that they’re in capable, efficient hands.
4. Be upfront about what you do - and don’t do
You know what you do so own it! You don’t need to be everything to everyone. If someone asks for something beyond your scope, refer them on. Or you’ll end up over-reaching, stressed and wishing you hadn’t bothered in the first place.
5. Set up networks with other freelancers
Does your client need a logo, or a website, or a photographer to take product shots? They will love it if you can help them out with this. Build a network of other freelancers that you can refer your clients to, either people you actually know, or contacts you network with regularly on social media.
6. Follow up with clients
Sometimes people get caught up in other stuff and your email may fall to the bottom of the pile. If you haven’t yet heard from that potential, follow up with them a week later with a short and sweet email to check if they’re still interested. It shows initiative, enthusiasm and that there’s a system in place.
7. Have transparent processes
Have a process for everything you do and share it with your clients. Contracts, briefs, questionnaires, invoices and more. Potential clients will feel much more secure knowing that you know what you’re doing.
8. Be professional at all times
This is especially the case if you take on a project for a friend or someone you know. Avoid the ‘don’t work with friends’ warning by being super professional. Treat them as you would any other client and try to avoid ‘mates rates’, or at least come up with a better titled incentive!
9. Share the social media love
Follow your clients’ sites on social media. Write comments and like and share their posts. They will appreciate that you’ve sussed them out and are showing support. And we can all do with the extra love and promotion.
10. Be generous
Whether you’re offering free tips on a client’s social media account, or sharing an idea that you think could really benefit them, be known as the business that goes the extra mile for their clients. It will be remembered and appreciated.
11. Refer clients to your networks
Referrals can go the other way! Recommend your clients around your own networks. You’ve helped build their business and now you know it better than most people. So, drop their name to friends and contacts and be part of new business opportunities.
12. Make it really easy for people to contact you
Don’t miss a single client opportunity by forgetting this simple step (amazingly so many do!) - put contact forms and links on your website, along with your email address, phone, and social media accounts. Make it really simple; don't make people have to go searching.
13. Make your website easy to navigate
A clear and easily navigated website adds oodles of street cred to your professional appearance. Clients want to see what you do, how you can help them, and how to contact you. That’s it! Keep it sharp and simple.
14. Set time frames and stick to them
Follow up on tasks and work within deadlines. If you say you’re going to email someone today, or send them your quote tomorrow, then by gad, you’d better do it!
15. Be proactive online
Social media is one of the fastest growing ways of finding new clients. So, get involved in social media groups, be helpful, share stories, and do a bit of business spruiking. People will start to remember your name and associate you with positive interaction and proactivity.
16. Be decisive
Never stuff a client around. Can you do the job or not? Do you have availability now or is there a wait list? Clients will appreciate clear decision-making, honesty and an upfront attitude. It shows you know what you're doing.
17. Admit your mistakes
No one is perfect. If you realised you've made an error, fess up. Nothing is irretrievable and honesty is always the best policy. At the very least it shows that you’re confident enough to take responsibility.
18. Follow up post project
Don't forget me! Check in with your client 3, 6 or even 12 months later to see how they’re going. It’s always nice to be remembered and often leads to more work and/or referrals.
There you have it! How many of these super easy steps can you take today to improve your client retention rates?
About the author: Lilani Goonesena is an Australian freelance writer, SEO copywriter and Squarespace web designer based in Vientiane, Laos. She loves boosting freelancers and small businesses with web design, SEO content and digital marketing strategy. She writes an awesome weekly newsletter on digital marketing, social media, blogging, web design and "all that online stuff". Lilani also blogs at the delectable Eat Drink Laos, just for fun.