When does client retention start?

At the end of the first year of working with my first Accountant, I received an email.  “Thank you for your business and for working with us for the coming year, please find attached your invoice.”

Now, I hadn’t heard from the Business Owner since month one when we were in set-up and hand-over.  Not a jot, nada, zilch, dickie bird.  I was a little taken aback that they had assumed I was continuing.  I replied, “Thanks for your email, what makes you assume I am staying with you?”

I got a call within 60 seconds from him, concerned about the content of my email and asking if I was going to stay with them.  I explained that I was staying but I felt it rather naïve and presumptuous of him to assume I was staying.

Following on from my 60 Second Snippet last week entitled “Why customer feedback is like gold dust“, he had never asked if I was happy with the service or if there was anything that could be improved.  He had no idea of my level of satisfaction or not and had assumed in the absence of negative feedback that all was okay.

I politely suggested to him that whilst I was generally happy, that some clients may not be, and it would make sense to introduce a periodic review (after six months or after six and nine months?) of the working relationship and whether it was working well so he could understand and correct any issues before the year end.  Sadly he never did and we parted ways later down the line.

This begs the question, when should client retention start?  Three months?  Six? Maybe nine?

In my view, client retention should start the moment they say yes, shake hands, or sign the contract.

Your systems, processes and people should all be geared to delivering the best possible value to the client, maximising their spend and retaining them from day one.

If you were to hold periodic service reviews, not only would you get candid feedback on your performance and where you could improve, you would get feedback on their level of satisfaction.  If their satisfaction is high, they will buy more products and services from you (if you market them and if you ask) and they will refer you (again, you may need to ask).

If you don’t, there is a strong possibility that the client will get a less than expected service and take their business and their referrals with them.

Remember, it can cost up to ten times more to win a new client than retain an existing one.  It should be a no brainer.

Make sure you have the marketing and operational strategies in place to maximise your retention.

Start now if you haven’t already.

Gary King Tendo Business Mentor Leeds