Simply put, your success depends upon paying attention to your most important customers, all year long. Strike up a conversation with them from and listen. You just might be surprised at what you find.
Here are 10 reasons why:
1. It’s your busy season, not your customers’. Your customers don’t have the same pressures at the same time of the year that you do. They will most likely have the time to meet with you. And, in case it escapes your notice, they’ll also have time to meet with your competition, too.
2. You’ve got their attention. Customers are more aware of your services/products when they’re in the middle of using them. This makes the perfect time to engage them in meaningful conversations, reconfirming what’s most important to them and demonstrating how much you value your relationship with them.
3. Your weaknesses are exposed. During your busy season, your customers are experiencing your services and service levels while they are being stretched to their design limits. Weaknesses and cracks in the foundation may begin to appear. Proactively asking for feedback allows you to identify issues and fix them before they become major problems.
4. Not everyone is tied up with work. Not everyone within your company is consumed with serving customers during the busy season. Someone – your marketing director, chief financial officer, the partner leading your management services practice, etc. – can find the time to visit your top clients.
5. The process can be outsourced. Most customers feedback initiatives can be outsourced without compromising their quality. In fact, an independent third party will reduce the risk of positive bias in the feedback and will demonstrate to your clients your commitment to the process.
6. Maintain your momentum. You’ll maintain the growth focus you had going into the busy season. You won’t have to re-ignite your business development initiatives – or worse, start them over from scratch.
7. Find new opportunities. When you meet with customers and talk with them about their needs, you are likely to uncover opportunities for additional business of which you were previously unaware. This chance to cross-sell and up-sell services will let you hit the ground running once the busy season is over.
8. Clients may feel ignored. Your focus is probably set on getting your customer’s work completed and meeting deadlines. As a result, you run the risk of missing important cues from your top customers – and making them feel insecure about the relationship.
9. Your competitors are staying close to your key customers. Even if you think you’re staying close to your most important and profitable customers, you can be sure your competitors are doing their best to get even closer. And what better time to make significant advances than your busy season? The competition is betting that you’re too wrapped up with work to pay attention.
Ask yourself this question: Will your customers be inclined to listen to rivals who promise that they’ll love them more and charge them less? And then ask yourself: How can you be so sure?
10. There’s never a bad time to invest. There’s never a bad time to invest in customers’ feedback and retention – unless, of course, it’s after a key customer switches to a different company. Because then it’s too late.
We regularly find that between 60 and 80 percent of customers will tell you they are satisfied or even very satisfied with you and your company – right up until the moment they leave. When you compare the tangible benefits of retaining existing customers to the costs of securing new ones, making continuous investments in customers’ feedback and retention yields high returns on your invested time.
So what can you do to make your customer’s relationships more secure?
Put yourself in your customers’ position and think about when and how they experience your services/products. You’ll strengthen your bond with customers, reduce their vulnerability to the advances of your competitors, and accelerate your revenue and profit growth.