99% of our clients have a single goal: To grow their business. But what happens when a company grows too fast?
Believe it or not, companies that grow more than 30% more than three years in a row experience a big hit in customer satisfaction. The only companies exempted from this stat are those that already had a customer satisfaction program before growing – and those are few are far between. We see this frequently with big organizations; they grow their business in leaps and bounds and hire accordingly only to suffer a huge drop in customer retention. This loss is compounded by the fact that it takes five times more time/money to develop a new client than to retain an existing client. They end up laying off as quickly as they hired.
Growth Path helps businesses grow but only at a pace that the business can handle without losing existing clients. We’ve seen small businesses grow too quickly (i.e. ignore our advice!) and not realize until it’s too late that their existing clients don’t appreciate being transitioned to new staff. It’s only natural that a client who’s used to dealing with the CEO will feel less important if suddenly the CEO has no time for them. Even if your staff does a fabulous job, it’s incumbent on an owner-operator to facilitate a thoughtful transition and personally stay in touch with clients.
Keeping in touch is easier than you think
We’ve outlined the five easiest ways a small business owner can facilitate growth and keep their clients:
5 When talking to existing clients, always speak well of your staff/contractors. For example, joke how you only hire people who are smarter/better than you are.
4. Introduce key staff into the account early on. For example, Kevin makes a point of introducing me to our clients at the very beginning. This helps our clients put a face to the name and Kevin makes it clear he’s not the only one working for them. They’re worthy of a team effort. An aside: Sometimes clients get the impression that you’re the one doing everything. It’s a good idea to introduce your resources not just to manage the client’s expectations, but to give them piece of mind by knowing that a wide array of talent is available to them.
3. Remain available to your client. Make it clear they can always talk to you if they’re not happy. Never close yourself off to your client. If you, as an owner-operator, are not the one to personally deal with all complaints, you may as well kiss your clients goodbye.
2. Regular check-ins. For example, if you’re an accountant and your bookkeeper is working an account, visit the client quarterly without your bookkeeper. Regular meetings with your clients are essential. It gives them the chance to provide feedback on your staff and see for themselves how much you appreciate their views. The fact that you’re asking feedback with an eye to making your own staff better sends a positive message that you care about both your clients and your staff.
1. Continue to personally invite clients to customer appreciation functions and social events. If you have tickets to a show your client would love, that phone call should come from you personally – not your assistant.
The Bottom Line: Your clients have supported you since the beginning and it’s thanks to them that you’re growing. Remember to show your clients your gratitude or they’ll go where they feel more appreciated.