When your clients go to the competitors, it’s your fault.
I first heard that statement in Scott Stratten’s Unmarketing podcast and it’s been knocking around in my brain ever since.
I mean, what about the idea of competitors coming in and stealing your business? Making special offers that woo your clients over to their side of the fence?
The unfairness of it all.
The simple truth is that if you aren’t being awesome enough all the time, your clients are fair game and they should look elsewhere.
In this particular episode, Scott talked about Air Canada, saying,
“You had the hardest part done. I was a customer. I was a loyal customer, and I was part of your loyalty program, and I left. That is solely and absolutely only Air Canada’s fault. That was not because WestJet was good or better.”
So what can you do to make sure your clients aren’t seduced by your competitors?
1. Make sure you communicate with your clients, regularly.
That means (gasp) talking to them:
- As they ask about your services (to show them what else is possible)
- As they make their decision (to guide them towards YES)
- Once they lock you in (so they know what happens next)
- As you work (so they know when to expect to hear from you)
- After you’ve delivered (so they remember you for the next job)
That sounds like a lot of communication, doesn’t it?
You don’t need to bombard clients but you also don’t want your potential and existing clients to wonder where you got to. Or worse yet, forget about you!
Kate and I bang on about this all the time on our own Hot Copy podcast: Have a systematic process through your projects, including your communication with clients.
Setting the right expectation is critical to positive customer satisfaction because the more uncertain your client is, the more anxious they are. And the more dissatisfied they will be, regardless of how good your copywriting is. I guarantee it.
Respond. Engage. Talk.
You’d think that listening would be part of communicating but it’s the part so many businesses skip. It’s easy to get so caught up in the sending that you stop listening for replies.
Many unsatisfied clients will just leave and you will never even know.
As a customer, I don’t waste my time trying to get justice… I simply walk away and never come back. Okay. That’s not entirely true. I walk away and never come back and sometimes, I also tell everyone I know.
When you’re very engaged with your client base you will be able to catch those people before they go. In many cases, you won’t.
A lot of clients will try and tell you they aren’t happy – if you listen.
Invite regular comments and feedback from clients and make it easy and inviting for them to respond. Pay attention to what they say and make an action plan to improve how you work.
Look at your email open rates. Are they even interested enough to click?
If you send a survey to gauge satisfaction, focus on just one issue to make your survey super short.
If you suspect they are finding how you work confusing or challenging, don’t be too busy to check in and help them. And improve your process so other clients don’t suffer the same confusion.
3. Solve real problems
This is at the heart of what we do, isn’t it? We create businesses to solve problems for people.
Your clients might come to you to solve big hairy problems or niggling dissatisfactions. Always dig into the triggers and motivations that are driving them to act and work out how you can be part of the solution.
Sometimes, that means sending clients to your competitors because they are the better business for the job. You might be surprised at how many clients come back simply because you had the courage to admit that you couldn’t be part of the solution – but you knew someone who could.
4. Make it easy to do business with you
When a new client signs up for a project I ask them to fill out a form and give me some information about their business – contact details for the project liaison, their postal address, relevant business ID numbers, etc.
I used to ask for all the social media links as well but I took those off. Why? Because in 95% of cases, I already had that information. So I was asking new clients to type it in as a time saver for me.
That wasn’t making life easier for my clients!
Systems, processes and approvals are all very good. Checks and balances are great to help you deliver consistent service but if they become a roadblock to actually delivering good service and getting the job done, they will work against you.
Who else has raged at lines like, “I’ll have to get my manager to approve this.” Or “Enter your account number”… AGAIN?!? That’s what I’m talking about.
When you make it hard to do business with you, you are creating a slow drip of dissatisfaction. That’s exactly what your competitors should take advantage of.
5. See every moment as a chance to be awesome
Every time a potential, existing and past client contacts you – for any reason – that’s when you have to be awesome.
When you get an enquiry about new business. For marketing interviews to share your business and cheeky requests for free advice. When you’re feeling like you can conquer the world. When you’re tired and cranky. To super duper clients and the tricky ones. When it’s your fault and when it’s not. Especially when it’s not your fault.
We’re all human and I think it’s fair to say that it’s damn hard work delivering awesome customer service 100% of the time. But when awesome is your default, the slips are easily forgiven.
Then even when your competitors start sharing incredible deals and cut-price promotions, your clients will say, “Nah, I’m good.”
They will have your back because you’ve got theirs. And that isn’t about group hugs. It translates to your bottom line.
So now I throw this open. Do you agree? What great client-keeping tips can you share?