Every company should have a plan on how they are going to stay in front of their clients – primarily, to ensure retention and a strong bottom line! We have built client touch programs that outline the basic parts of building and maintaining your existing clients. After all, loyalty program members are 70% more likely to spread the word about your business, according to Signalmind.com.
Step 1 – Brainstorm
Start by brainstorming the current touch points you have with existing clients; odds are you are doing more than you think, it just may not be formalized or focused on the right initiatives to make cross-selling or referrals easy to obtain.
Think of a client who has engaged your company for a long period of time. You have a powerful relationship and a client that you know is dedicated to working with you, right? This client is loyal to your company, but for one (1) product / service. Now, a new need has arisen. But, instead of picking contacting you, the client reaches for the laptop and proceeds to search for what they need (and if your SEO isn’t up to speed, they find your competition, yikes!).
- Problem #1: You have not clearly communicated to your client what products / services are in your arsenal.
- Problem #2: You will have to compete for their business versus having a personalized conversation to provide a solution.
- Problem #3: The decision will have more companies like you involved, so winning the work will be challenging.
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 the client really had no clue your firm offered this product / service. Whatever the case, this scenario exists frequently within stable, reputable companies. Don’t be shy about telling your clients what you do and asking them if they need any of your other services. After all, they are your existing clients, they keep your business in the black, and they want to stay loyal and in the know about how they can learn and grow with you.
Step 2 – Communicate
Communicating to your existing clients is never an unethical practice; it is welcomed and appreciated by your clients. You don’t want this scenario to play out for you:
I was at dinner with my girlfriends and we were discussing our professional relationships. You know, the accountants, attorneys, insurance agents, etc. in our lives. We’re at the age where all these people matter a lot! Anyway, one friend responded with “Well, I must not have been a big enough client to them, because after they finished my will and estate, they never contacted me again, so I moved my business to a guy who has made me feel like I matter.”
This is not how you maintain client relationships. You cannot perform a service (or offer a product) to someone, have a good experience, but never reach out to them again. You must have a plan to re-engage with your clients. My attorney reaches out to me on a quarterly basis. Do I need him every quarter, no; however, it takes him less than five minutes to pick up the phone, call me, and touch base. And guess what, I may not need him continually, but he has gotten several great clients from our relationship.
According to the American Marketing Association, individuals can handle up to 200 contacts per year. Consider if your company communicates once a week, that’s only 52 touches. As long as you are sharing valuable and relevant information and educating the client on a subject that relates to them, you’ll have clients who will come to you when a need arises.
You are now ready to launch a written, well-planned out Client Touch Program, let’s start by establishing the following:
- Make a list of your clients. Pull out your top 20% to begin your program.
- What does ‘delivering platinum service’ mean to all clients?
- Do you communicate what all your services/products are to them already?
- Are they 100% satisfied with your current relationship? (If not, some work needs to be done here.)
- Would this 20% act as a referral source for you / your company?
Once you know the answers, these next five steps will formulate a comprehensive, easy to manage, and effective touch program:
Step 3 – Rank Clients
Choose a way to rank these clients, based on billings, realization, a client-likeness factor (would you like to have 10 of these clients), future billing potential, or how many other clients has this client referred.
Step 4 – Set Parameters
You know your clients well, and probably know how much / how little they want to be contacted. Set the touch parameters based on what you know. Would they prefer traditional marketing (gifts, coffee meetings, face-to-face interactions, letters, postcards, etc.), digital marketing (e-mails, social media shout outs, client success story on website, etc.), or are special invitations to business-focused events (such as fundraisers, sporting events, etc.) or invitations to close-knit events (birthday, anniversary, and holiday celebrations).
Step 5 – Create the Plan
Starting the process can be the most difficult part, but we’re here to help. Our example below can help you start brainstorming the ways you will plan to ensure you capture all touch points (Sidebar: ask your receptionist what stands out, if you are planning to send gifts). Once the plan has been created, it is time to identify the internal champion who will police the plan for successful implementation.
Step 6 – Monitor Success
Evaluate the plan at least quarterly and resolve any issues that may have deterred the program and make adjustments to the process to ensure a great rate of return. During this quick, formalized meeting address issues and provide solutions and move on – don’t make this a painful process, a 30-45 minute meeting to discuss and adjust will work perfectly.
Step 7 – Measure Results
Be sure to track how many opportunities, referrals or new projects / services you have secured from the program. Evaluate which additional products / services have clients inquired about most / purchased?
Are there new products / services we can add to grow the company? Consider doing an annual survey to your clients to ask their opinions.
Client touch programs can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make them. Be sure to start with basic action items – start with a 2-3 month plan and monitor. At the end, evaluate what is working, what isn’t, and how you will adjust the plan for the future.