Today’s economy enables us to be connected to each other at all times. This is dramatically altering the way companies interact with their customers. People are more willing to freely share their experiences, and companies are quickly discovering that it’s not just about the product anymore. Consumers are searching for companies that can provide them with a high level of customer service, two-way communication and a better overall experience.
Many companies default to offering discounts, free services or other monetary incentives to keep their customers happy. The problem with that is that it’s very hard to build brand loyalty, simply by offering discounted products or services (note Groupon’s current stock price). While there are various ways to increase customer loyalty, below are three main keys to client retention.
1. Create an Exceptional Customer Experience
A major piece to creating a great customer experience is setting clear expectations right from the beginning. Waiting until the contract is signed will only hurt you in the long-run. Clear expectations provide a framework for interaction moving forward and can really make or break a relationship. Knowing what to expect puts clients at ease and builds trust.
The main way that MSPs and VARs set expectations with their customers is through SLAs. It’s very important to put forward a clear vision of your services from the beginning – but it’s even MORE important to stick to your SLA. Managing client expectations is critical to the success of your business because that’s how your clients evaluate their experience with your company.
A great way to foster loyal customers is to “under promise and over deliver” on the expectations you originally laid out in the SLA. For instance, Datto’s SLA states that any ticket submitted with an “urgent” priority will be replied to within one hour. In reality, the response time on those tickets is closer to five minutes.
Remember: The negative emotions felt from not meeting a customer’s expectation will have a greater effect than the positive emotions felt when exceeding a customers expectation. Even if you deliver on your SLA nine times out of ten, I can guarantee that the customer will remember that one time you did not come through.
2. Become Indispensable
The IT world changes constantly, and it can be hard for the average business to keep up with emerging trends and new technologies. As your client’s ‘trusted advisor’ it’s important that you establish a relationship where they feel completely comfortable seeking advice from you. The more communication you have with your clients, the better.
Right now, we are experiencing some major confusion in the SMB space around compliance/regulations and you have real opportunity to help your clients navigate the uncertainty. The unknowns become real opportunities to capitalize on. For example, if you can communicate the necessary steps to becoming HIPAA compliant to a doctor’s office, the client is going to recognize the value of your relationship. When a competitor with a slightly better offer comes around, most likely, your customer will stick with you because you’ve become indispensable to them.
The MSP market is getting more crowded, which will result in increased competition across the board. So if specialization isn’t something you’ve considered before, it might be something you want to consider now. Especially in fields that have a lot of regulation, like healthcare and finance.
3. Go The Extra Mile
This may be a no-brainer, but it’s important to note. Now more than ever, SMBs are looking to have real relationships with their IT Service Providers. Going the extra mile fosters trust and builds long-term loyalty. It demonstrates commitment to your customers and you’ll end up benefiting from it. For example, if you demonstrate a consistent commitment to your clients, that will encourage them to refer you to others. Customer referrals are one of the easiest and low-cost methods of getting new business.
Going the extra mile means paying attention to what your customers want. Listen to your clients and show that you understand what they are saying. Make your customers issues, your issues.
Think about what is important to your clients and what you can do to make their experience top-notch. A great experience will help you stand out from the competition and give you an edge when it’s time to renew contracts.