Every company should have a plan on how they are going to stay in front of their clients – primarily, to ensure you retain them! We’ll go through the basic components of a client touch program to help you get started.
Start by brainstorming all the current touch points you have with clients; odds are you are doing more than you think, it just may not be formalized (or successful, yet).
Think for a moment of a client who has engaged with your company for over 20 years. You have a great relationship and a client dedicated to your company, right? Well, this client knows you very well; but only for one product / service… and now a new need has arisen. But, instead of picking up the phone and calling you, the client reaches for the laptop, opens GoogleTM and proceeds to search for what they need.
- Problem #1: You have not clearly communicated to your client your products / services.
- Problem #2: Now you will have to compete for their business.
- Problem #3: The decision will have many more parties involved than just you, so winning will be more difficult.
We could place blame on the client for not asking you first, but maybe it was an embarrassing situation for them, maybe they wanted to keep it off your radar, or maybe the client had no clue your firm offered this product / service. Whatever the case, this scenario exists frequently with companies. Don’t be afraid to tell your clients what you do – after all, they are your clients and they want to stay in the know.
Communicating your message to your clients is not ever an unethical practice; it is one that is welcomed by clients. You don’t want this scenario to play out for you: I have friends who shared their experiences with attorneys and they all ended with the same comment, “well, I must not have been an important client to them, because they never touched me after the initial consult.” This is not how you build client relationships – you must do something to engage with your existing clients.
According to the American Marketing Association, individuals can handle up to 200 contacts per year. In my opinion, this is overkill. Consider communicating once ot twice per month, sharing relevant information and educating the reader on how you can help when their need arises.
Today it’s easy and inexpensive for anyone to communicate to your clients. Be sure your current clients know your capabilities, your people and your successes!
If you are ready to launch a Client Touch Program, start by asking yourself these questions:
- Do you know who your top clients are?
- Are you delivering platinum level service to all clients?
- Are you staying in contact with them, as much as you could?
- Do they know what you do?
- Are they satisfied with your current level of service?
- Would your current clients act as your referral network without being asked?
Once you know the answers, these five components will formulate a touch program that is comprehensive, easy to manage and effective:
- Rank your clients – Choose the ranking criteria that are right for your company’s goals. Most companies focus on client billings, realization, the client likeness factor, future billing potential and/or how much business the client has referred.
- Set touch parameters – You know your clients and what they can handle, so set touch parameters based on what you know. Touches may include: traditional mailings (letters, postcards, and invoice notices), electronic communications (e-newsletters, blogging, and social media), special invitations to business-focused events or activities, or special occasions (birthday, anniversary, and holiday cards).
- Create the plan – Open a new document and begin typing. Starting the process is the most difficult part, but once it has begun, the ideas will flow. Remember to include a variety of individuals at your company (especially your receptionist) in the planning to ensure you capture all touch points. Once the plan has been created, it’s time to identify the project management champion for successful implementation.
- Monitor your success – Evaluate the plan quarterly and solve any issues that may have deterred the program or make simple adjustments to the process. This should be a formalized meeting that is no longer than 45 minutes, to simply address issues and provide solutions.
- Measure your success – Track how many opportunities, referrals or new projects / sales you have secured. Ask yourself, which additional products / services have clients inquired about (maybe there is a larger market out there you haven’t identified yet)? Are there new products / services we can add to grow the company? What has made this program successful?
Client touch programs can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make them. My advice, be sure to start out with simple tasks – start with a 12-week plan. At the end of 12 weeks, survey your clients to see whether they value the new information provided to them.