Technological innovations today have made starting a business really easy. Due to low or no entry barriers, so many Single Person Enterprise (SPE) are in existence today. Better acceptance for entrepreneurs by society is also fueling this. More and more people are turning entrepreneurs.
It also means that existing businesses have more competition. There are more SPEs running after your business. They also have a chance to win the businesses of clients that you are serving. This is because the low cost of delivery and comparative lesser operating costs for such enterprises.
What do you do in such a situation to retain your clients? The answer is simple. You do it by providing exceptional value and staying ahead of the curve. Following 4 steps help you do that.
Educate: For most of the businesses in services and solutions space; clients are likely to be companies running significant operations that having the capability to outsource part of their needs. These needs may be design, technology, specialized promotion or something similar.
Depending of your clients’ position in the market – leader, followers, new entrants – they are working most of the time to maintain their position, move ahead or setting a foothold. They have little time to learn about new innovations and the basics of the area in which you are helping them. So it makes sense that you to educate them by providing such information in an easily digestible format.
It is your duty to help clients learn the basics and update them on new innovations and possibilities. It does two things – one it helps the client instill confidence in you and your company. Reason being – when you share information you give subtle message that you know about what you are doing. It builds credibility for you. Secondly it gives you an opportunity to up sell. From among new innovations a client may ask you to use one for their benefit.
You can educate your clients in person, through email, blog or an email newsletter.
Inform: Inform clients about both – what you plan to do for them and what has been done for them, through periodic, easy to understand reports. Planned activity can be shared at the beginning of the month and executed work can be shared at the end of the month. Talk in their language. Avoid jargon wherever possible.
Fair pricing: It does not mean under pricing. In fact you should never under price. You can win a business by pricing very low; but it is no fun to work with wafer thin margins. In such a scenario you are not motivated enough to provide exceptional service; and it is mostly likely that you will not be able to pay your employees and associates well. Underpaid resources rarely deliver quality work.
Fair Pricing means a cost+ pricing that gives you an opportunity to serve the client in line with his expectations, without letting him feel that he is overpaying. Be commonsensical about it. To explore more just check out this story from Charging by the Project or the Hour: (via Signal vs. Noise)
Legend has it that Pablo Picasso was sketching in the park when a bold woman approached him.
“It’s you — Picasso, the great artist! Oh, you must sketch my portrait! I insist.”
So Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a single pencil stroke to create her portrait. He handed the women his work of art.
“It’s perfect!” she gushed. “You managed to capture my essence with one stroke, in one moment. Thank you! How much do I owe you?”
“Five thousand dollars,” the artist replied.
“B-b-but, what?” the woman sputtered. “How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a second to draw it!”
To which Picasso responded, “Madame, it took me my entire life.”
Guess you got some idea. It may help to look at demand and supply and the value you are providing. You can afford to charge premium if the offering is unique and of great value to the receiver. And just to reinforce, never be the least price offering in the market.
Trust: Trust comes from credibility and productive action; and also by educating, informing and offering a fair price. In today’s world trust can be a big USP when many businesses are trying to run a fast one on their clients. Be transparent, tell the truth, deliver on time, and make a difference, positive that is. If it makes sense for you – also put a little bit of your heart with your brains – and you will see the difference.
Trust also can come from making an exceptional offer like DemandForce.
From DemandForce website – “We believe that our customers should not pay for a program that has not generated a documented return, so we guarantee our customers will receive $3 in value for every $1 spent subscribing to our service each month, or the next month is free.”
Most of what I have shared above can be used to win new business also. I will share more about that some time in near future; because you need to acquire a client first to retain it.
What are you doing to retain your clients?