What’s the most important part of any business? It’s the people… you, your team and of course your clients. But without your clients you don’t have a business. With this in mind, how can you increase your client engagement, loyalty and turn your clients into advocates?
It’s worth remembering; it’s far more cost effective to keep your clients happy than to get new clients. According to Amy Gallo of the Harvard Business Review, “acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.”
Therefore, it’s critical for all businesses to look at how to keep clients happy and engaged, with the goal of converting them into advocates. For me the best way ensure client advocacy is to be more human by being more engaged with your clients. Reach out to them, listen to them, hear what they want and understand what they value so you can serve them better. In a nutshell… be human.
A core part of the work I do, is interviewing my client’s customers/clients to find out what is working well and perhaps not so well. By being an impartial ‘listener’ clients get a chance to honestly feedback their feelings of their supplier as well as suggestions for improvements; which is so much more in depth than an online form can ever be.
Once I’ve spoken to a selection of clients, I then feedback and give recommendations, enabling the business to make improvements to their business and engage with their clients better. I have been compared to a marriage counsellor for businesses…. and have found out all sorts of golden nuggets from clients that have helped businesses to improve and grow their business off the back of client insight. Some of the intelligence that has come out of interviewing clients has enabled businesses to:
· Improve communications with their clients
· Identify new services/products that the clients are often asking for repeatedly
· Improve and reward teams
· Build better business processes
· Identify at risk clients and develop plans to improve relationships
· Upsell services
· Open up conversations between businesses and their clients
· Understand their positioning
· Focus their marketing and new business better
· Understand who their ideal client is
· Increase prices
· Create testimonials & case studies
Ultimately the interviews have improved client relationships, retention, loyalty, opened up new job opportunities and it’s built a huge amount of trust between client and suppliers, which of course leads to a better business with an increase in revenue; with a greater number of client advocates who are being serviced so much better.
Here are some of the things I recommend to my clients, and help them, do:
1. Develop communications with clients. Be intentional in all your communications. Look at how you are engaging with them — from digital, insights, events to human interaction. Is there any part of this engagement that could be improved? Understand who your current advocates or fans are: What makes them love you and your brand? What do you do for them that you could do for other clients?
2. Put a client advocacy process into place. Once you know where your touch points are — review them and make sure you have regular contact with your clients, beyond standard newsletters and social media interaction. Make sure you are reaching out to them at different stages of their lifecycle with something of value to ensure you are giving them what they need or want. Make sure you speak to all clients with intention — personalise your communications, depending on what stage they are at, such as new clients (why did they choose you?), advocates (why do they love you and how can you do more?) to the unengaged clients (what can be done to make the relationship more engaging and valuable to them), even those who have finished working with you (what could you do to work with them again). Think about what each type of person may want from you at that stage.
3. Ask for feedback from your clients. See what is working, not working, what they want and how you can improve. Start by reaching out to all your clients with an online form to get the maximum number of responses, then follow up with an interview with a selection who have given mixed results. Ideally have someone outside the organisation interview them, so the clients feel they can be open and honest in their feedback. Try to do this yearly and follow up with them to tell them what changes you may have made as a result of the feedback. Be accountable to your clients.
When I do this for my clients, I interview a selection of clients at different stages of the relationship with the business and those that have different levels of satisfaction (good and bad) — and find out the patterns that may emerge, as well as, pulling together ideas for development and improvement for the business. Obviously, the interviews yield a huge amount of amazing qualitative feedback, but I put a quantitative element to the feedback — it makes it easier to compare results in the future and see in a nutshell what the big issues are.
4. The bottom line — be more human… think about encouraging human engagement and interaction throughout the organisation.
5. My biggest tip…. When interviewing clients over the years, there are three things that are complained about most. These are a lack of Communication, Processes and Proactivity. So, I’d recommend every business focus on improving these three things and they will have the tools to make massive improvements on their business and client relationships.
I believe that if a business proactively looks at how they can turn their clients into advocates… they can only do better and improve overall!
Remember that you will have more success with and for your clients if it’s more about a partnership relationship as opposed to a transactional relationship. Everyone should want to succeed… together, whatever it takes.
If you have any good examples where you have successfully implemented a client advocacy programme, or if you would like to discuss or share ideas around this, I’d love to hear from you! And if you would like to hear more about client advocacy and the work I do, you can listen to this podcast: https://pod.co/the-agency-accelerator/client-interviews-with-remeny-armitage.
Please feel free to connect with me: https://www.linkedin.com/in/remeny/