Avoiding client breakups is, often times, something a business overlooks due to business growth being the priority. That giddy feeling when a new sale is finalized can be distracting, especially when the revenue starts to generate. However, all those butterflies can easily wear off after the honeymoon phase is over. That’s why today we’re going to tell you how to avoid customer attrition to save yourself the heartache.
Growing a business partnership is a lot like going steady. You spend days, weeks, months, even years introducing yourself to prospects. You put your heart and soul on the line, constantly practicing your pitch and expressing your values. Establishing the partnership is just the beginning… actually KEEPING that customer relationship is the harder journey ahead. At Paymentsmith, we think the best way to save yourself from a client breakup is by setting boundaries. Here’s how to avoid customer attrition with 5 boundaries:
Set and Meet Expectations
“What are we?”
You may have heard this a few times in your dating life, but the question surfaces something more important about expectations. Establishing expectations from the beginning of the relationship is a must. Providing a product for your customers will make expectation setting important in order for the product to live up to their standards. Providing a service for your customers will make expectation setting vital as your performance is monitored. Either way, both parties must come to an agreement of terms on what is expected in the relationship.
Setting a schedule for when you’re available for questions, when payment is due, and when the customer can expect to see reporting are all terms that should be established prior to an exchange of funds. If you provide a service, the customer will want a way to gauge your performance. Outline the KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) being measured and the frequency at which you share them with the customer. For a mutual agreement, contracts are a great way to make sure both parties are on the same page.
When setting expectations, we also suggest outlining a 30/60/90 day plan. Much like with your employees, outlining each phase of tasks, objectives, and goals that need to be achieved is imperative to building a successful business relationship. A final report or review to determine if expectations were satisfied ensures complete understanding and future relationship possibilities.
Through clear expectations, you can build business rapport on good terms.
“I feel like you’re not listening.”
This is a common quarrel amongst lovebirds, but a completely valid talking point in business as well. Communication is the foundation of every relationship in life. A strong, healthy business relationship relies on an understanding of each parties’ needs and wants, likes and dislikes, past failures and idiosyncrasies.
The customer exchanges hard-earned money for your products or services. Transparency is key in helping them feel comfortable in doing so. Being transparent includes constant updates on performance, any shifts in budget, and even your plans to take vacation/holiday time. Additionally, you should always strive to make the customer feel comfortable enough to communicate satisfaction with the end result. The ability to communicate and work through smaller issues effectively will promote goodwill between the two parties.
At Paymentsmith, we like to uncover pain-points our customers face in their business before offering a solution. We do this by asking a variety of questions that allow us to really get to know their business. To truly understand if you can provide a valuable product or service to the customer, you have to understand the issues the customer may face. Typically, this communication happens during the discovery phase of the sales cycle. Half the battle of communication is listening, so be sure to listen to all your customer’s needs and wants instead of constantly trying to pitch them on your ‘idea’ of what they need. Good communication will show your investment and care for their business.
Be a Support System
“I feel like you don’t support me.”
The moment you stop caring about your customer’s desires and problems is the moment they start having second thoughts on your company’s capacity to carry them forward. In a competitive market, it’s imperative to provide the best support possible. Support of your customer’s concerns as well as their success is how you nurture the relationship. Having the availability to field questions or concerns lets the customer know that you are available to them in the ways that matter most. Being available means having a system in place to field questions or concerns, even past regular business hours.
Providing good support also means asking for feedback, not just fielding it when it comes your way. You can streamline this process by sending customer feedback surveys or asking for an online review after a service or product has been deployed. If you provide an ongoing service, like marketing or lead generation, set up check-in meetings where client feedback is part of the conversation. For the moments in your client’s life that are worth celebrating, a handwritten note speaks volumes.
Just like a significant other, a customer wants to feel like you support them and their success. The financial reward will come if your priorities put the customer first.
Avoid Being “Needy”
“Did you get my message?”
There is a difference between having needs and being “needy.” How to avoid customer attrition most likely isn’t always top of mind, but it is important to note that over-communicating can also turn a customer off.
If you can’t get in touch with the customer for a day or two, avoid flooding their email and voicemail with messages. Your customer is likely just as busy as you are. You may have a reasonable need for urgency, but giving the customer space to respond back in a timely manner shows patience. If the customer continues to be unresponsive, it may be a good time to revisit expectations or evaluate the relationship.
If you feel yourself over-communicating by habit, try scheduling out all customer-based interactions to ensure space. This is important to note when developing email automations. Too frequent of emails can result in a negative, overloaded feeling for the customer towards your business. There must be balance.
“I feel like you don’t trust me.”
The most important element in a relationship is trust. You would never intentionally do anything to jeopardize your personal relationships, and your customer expects the same. The customer should have full trust in that you will deliver on your promises. But, despite your best efforts, mistakes will happen over the course of the customer relationship. Rebuilding trust is a huge task in times of mistakes.
Human error is unavoidable and we know it can be hard to admit when you’re at fault. Sometimes we even shift the blame to evade looking untrustworthy. The best route in how to avoid customer attrition is to be honest about these shortcomings and communicate the resolution. It will speak more to your company’s character and integrity if you admit a problem and follow through on fixing it.
As your company continues to grow, be diligent in how you uphold trust. Avoid threatening your relationship with your customer by handing them off to another employee without proper introductions and communication.
Getting a customer interested in your business is hard work. However the hardest work of all is keeping the customer interested. Adhering to these 5 boundaries will ensure your relationship with the customer is a match made in heaven. Remember to set expectations, communicate clearly, care about your customers’ needs, don’t be needy, and cultivate trust.