The most effective way, by far, to expand the lifetime of anything is to consistently do preventative maintenance. You take your car to the shop for tune-ups and oil changes, you visit the doctor’s office for check-ups and immunizations, and you have necessary servicing of large household appliances and systems. Even if things aren’t broken, it’s critical to take good care of anything that you want to last. The alternative of neglecting these important elements would have detrimental implications, and any damage to these would be incredibly cost and time intensive, and may potentially pose much more dangerous fallout.
This habit of preventative maintenance is applicable in just about every aspect of your life, and is particularly relevant in business. One of the largest challenges many companies face is customer turnover. The struggle with retention is huge, and even the largest, most successful companies still need to be mindful of this difficulty. Preventative maintenance is critical for companies who strive to maintain customer loyalty and aim to limit the amount of returns, cancellations, and dissatisfied customer surveys they encounter. The amount of time and funds necessary to invest in the servicing of current customers is dramatically outweighed by the potential return your business will receive as a result of your efforts.
A quick, inexpensive, and incredibly effective way to do a client check-up is to pick up the phone. Check in on them! Make the goal of each call to find out how you client is doing, actually listen to their pain points or complaints, and communicate that you understand their challenges. From there, you can work on addressing their issues, but first and foremost you need to demonstrate that you know what the problem is. Doctors don’t write treatment plans before they diagnose the issue, and they don’t diagnose the issue before they listen to the symptoms that you tell them. You need to operate the same way. Be patient, listen, identify the real problems (if any), and then work on a plan to solve them if necessary.
Your customers will be pleasantly surprised to get a phone call from your company with the sole goal of checking in. It’s important to call without any intention of making a sale. If the customer happens to be thrilled with your business and requests to purchase more product, or increase their account coverage, great! But make sure your clients know that the purpose of this call is for customer service. Don’t push a sale either- you don’t want to condition your clients to feel like every phone call comes with an ulterior motive or sales intention.
Another benefit of calling to check on your clients is the personal element you develop by doing so. Putting a face and voice to your brand by personalizing their customer service experience will increase their attachment and commitment to your company via the relationship they will develop with your customer service team.Make the experience individualized versus corporatized. People like to feel special and important. Call them by name, familiarize yourself with their account and their needs. More than anything, your clients are people, not commission checks. Help them out, and your business will reap excellent benefits.
The biggest mistake a business can make is avoiding calling the dissatisfied clients. The mentality that some companies erroneously maintain is that if they call a client who is potentially dissatisfied with their experience, the client will use that opportunity cancel. After all, if you don’t call, they probably won’t remember that they are unhappy with your company. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Wrong. If they are unhappy with the results they are getting as a customer of your business, they will get around to cancelling eventually. It’s much better to call now and have the opportunity to address their complaints and potentially save the account than to let it sit and leave the customer thinking you don’t care about their business.
Do not make the mistake of projecting your own experiences or expectations on your client. For example, while working at a popular real estate website company, I would check in monthly with my clients who were real estate agents that lived all across the country. Some lived in busy metropolitan areas, and would receive dozens of leads per day from their advertising campaigns, while others received one lead over the course of a few months. One day I had an encounter with an agent who was unhappy that she had “only” received ten leads in a week. I worked with her on the phone for about five minutes to help her more effectively manage those ten leads, helping her realize that ten closed leads is better than thousands of unclosed leads. She calmed down, got excited about following up with them, and gave me a referral of a friend of hers who wanted to sign up with me. Score! Five minutes was easy and effective preventative maintenance, showing my client that I care and I’m there to help. Additionally, I was able to take care of her displeasure before the issue and her frustration got out of hand, potentially saving the account from a cancellation and an angry review on our site.
After dealing with the woman who was unhappy about ten leads in a week, I reluctantly called to check in on another client who, after almost two months of running his campaign, had only just received his first lead. I started the phone call sympathetically, almost apologetically, and on the defense for an angry client who may complain about their issue. To my shock, there was no issue! This older gentleman was beyond thrilled to have received a lead, exclaiming in his adorable southern accent “Oh my! I’ve gotta go, I need to put gas in my car and prepare for some showings!” Obviously his perception of the results he was getting were dramatically different from mine, and I learned to stop projecting my expectations on my clients, and focus on addressing their individual concerns as needed.
There have been plenty of times that I forced myself to call customers that I was afraid might give me an earful about how disappointed they are in the results. To be honest, I did receive a few cancels as a result of those phone calls (which probably would have happened either way), but much more often I had the opportunity to address my customers needs that weren’t being met, and I was able to make some changes to the account, or help consult my client to use their account differently so that they were much more pleased with their results. Customer service and a regular client check-in is the best use of your time and resources to prevent turnover and increase client retention. Don’t ignore your clients; pick up the phone and ask how you can help them get the most out of their experience with you.