If your digital marketing agency is experiencing a rapid growth phase – congratulations are in order! However, previous customers can become neglected by your sales team if you’re too busy focusing on new customers. Take a look at this chart:
The harsh truth is that most customers will leave because they perceive you as indifferent to them. The good news is that this means it’s up to you to not let them down. And it’s worth it – according to a study by Harvard Business Review, increasing your customer retention rate by merely 5% increases your profits by at least 25% (and up to 75%). In this post, we will touch upon four best practices that will help you boost your customer retention rate.
1.Engage your employees
Experts and seasoned marketing veterans all agree that one of the key ways to retain customers during growth starts with your sales team. Engaged employees become dedicated, motivated, and focused on producing stellar sales results.
When you first launched your marketing agency, you likely started with a small team. You were able to meet your staff each day face-to-face and be hands-on with direction and marketing development. There were successes and milestones that got your team excited to work for your company. However, if your company has grown beyond a handful of employees, you may not have the logistics or time to verbally stay in touch with your team with the frequency you had in the past.
You are likely using a project management software system, email, and/or an electronic messaging platform like Skype to organize tasks and communicate with your expanding team. These tools are great, but they can distance you from your team. The communication of your vision can become lost and the active sharing of ideas can slow.
In an increasingly digital workplace, the excitement to excel can fade during growth, as your team experiences a gradual disconnect from their leader. They may even forget that the CEO is a human being. How can you solve this problem?
Use your tools (email, project management software, social media, video conferences, etc.) to keep your employees engaged and on task. In most, if not all cases, they are the ones driving your business and communicating with customers, not you. By engaging your employees through the tools, you can persistently communicate to them their purpose of working at your agency and why their service is important. Customer retention is enhanced when your employees are enthusiastic to demonstrate the value of your agency for customer needs.
To keep your employees engaged while growing your agency, you need to find a balance between positive reinforcement for your team vs. time and resources devoted to customers. But, how to maintain this balance? While business is booming, the simplest way to make sure that you are engaging your employees is to set a schedule to electronically inform them.Show them that you are still a real person, care about them, and have an exciting, motivating vision for your agency’s future.
If you have the time and logistical ability to perform weekly, in-person meetings with your team – fantastic. However, for growing organizations, you may need to schedule regular email communications to keep your team engaged.
[tweetthis]Previous customers can become neglected by your sales team if you’re too busy focusing on new customers.[/tweetthis]
Not only can simple encouraging messages maintain that your employees are aware that you care, but having a schedule in place to monitor performance can also inform you on each employee’s progress, knowing whether your staff is overwhelmed or underwhelmed whilst growing your agency.
If your agency is still in its infancy – perfect. This is the ideal time to set a schedule to check in on your individual team members and maintain your engagement. While a young agency, you likely have more time to devote to molding in-house procedures which will eventually become natural processes (such as scheduling check-ins with employees).
However, electronic messages are not valued as much as face-to-face communication with team members, so make sure that during agency expansion you are relaying your vision, objectives, and customer retention goals to your staff with greater frequency.
Engaged employees are willing to go the extra mile and stay in contact with preexisting customers, and deliver a higher customer retention rate. Only 4% of customers take their own time to tell an agency they are unhappy with services. If your team is proactive in customer communication they will foster a greater customer retention rate. Your pre-existing customers are even more valuable than new customers, and while new customers are necessary for growth, around 5-20% of new prospects are willing to purchase your services, while 60-70% of pre-existing customers are willing to rely upon you once again.
Customers don’t buy from a company per se, but more so from a personal experience with a representative of the company. If you sold a customer on your agency, how disappointed will they feel when neglected, and how rewarded will they feel when your team follows up with them, asks how well the service worked for them, and just simply communicates with them?
2. Educate your customers
After you have organized and implemented methods for engaging your employees, the next step to take for customer retention is the education of your customers; i.e. the demonstration of the value of your services. Engaged employees are wonderful, but they need the knowledge and familiarity with your services to communicate how the target customer is experiencing pain, and that only you can solve it in the most expedient fashion available.
There is a distinct difference between marketing and educating. Marketing is simply saying “Hey, this is what we can do for you.” Educating is going in-depth, and explaining “This is how our services help you out.” Notice the difference?
55% of your customers are willing to pay more for better service. As your agency grows, you can offer more to your customers, and over half of the time they will be willing to pay for it, but only if they are made aware of your advanced services. Educating your customers engages them, and further enhances customer retention.
Growing in a controlled fashion is facilitated by customer education, but a lone website simply showcasing the features of your services will not educate them. Your customers are likely already informed consumers, and 81% have been doing research on a search engine well before communicating with your agency.
They already know why they are shopping for what they want, but if given context and real-world examples of how your services produce results, they will be more inclined not only to go with your agency in the first place but keep coming back.
Make sure the educational information that you provide is accurate and pertinent to the customer. When your customers are educated on the process of your services, and not mislead by false promises, they will value how you told them exactly what you were going to do and how. This will grow greater esteem for your company. Give them your word, but only if you can keep it.
Customer education shouldn’t be limited to one step in the customer purchasing process; customers should be educated before, during, and after they enlist your marketing agency for your services. But, how to begin the educational process?
First, have an unshakeable belief in your product. Avoid arrogance and disparaging competitors, but you must truly believe that your services are the most helpful in your niche. Then, let your customers know why you believe that.
Second, offer an educational training program. They are going to need to know how they can help you help them with their marketing desires. Going the extra mile to educate new customers on your business, and how they can and should assist in the process of helping you help them, will further engage them and keep them coming back to you for more.
3. Constant reporting
If your agency is doing a good job for your customers, let them know about it on a regularly scheduled basis. Even if there are hiccups along the way let them know about those as well. Constantly reporting the results of your marketing efforts even further engages your customers, making them feel valued by your agency.
While your marketing efforts are increasing their conversions and profits, your customers will become focused on their increased business thanks to your help. However, they may not have the time to check the metrics of how your strategy has enhanced their business.
When it comes time to renew a contract, they may be hesitant if they cannot gauge how you helped them achieve their success. By constantly reporting your results to your customers, they will be confident on every step of the way that your agency is what’s driving their increased revenue.
[tweetthis]Make sure the educational information that you provide is accurate and pertinent to the customer. [/tweetthis]
A lot of marketing agencies like to boast about their achievements. That is fine, but also inform your customers when you’ve been hitting a brick wall with results and your strategy for adapting and modifying your marketing. You may think that relaying bad news to your customer is counterintuitive to growing your business, but in fact, the opposite is true. If your strategy is souring, the customer is going to find out anyway when the bottom line hasn’t moved. By informing your customers of when marketing hurdles exist, and how you plan to leap over them, they will feel valued and respected by your agency, that you were honest and transparent with them.
4. Provide exceptional customer service
Last, but by no means least, exceptional customer service is to customer retention what water is to a fish. Basic customer service is what the customer already expects of you, but providing exceptional service further demonstrates that your agency truly cares about your customer’s satisfaction, and is an essential for customer retention.
The first step in providing exceptional service is to build a strong relationship with your customers from the very beginning of their communication with you.
Do not only tell them what amazing services your agency provides, but ask questions; get to know them beyond B2B. Understand them as people, not just a company. Keep in mind that your customers are people first, businesses second.
By getting to know your customers as people, having conversations, not just exchanges of information, you can also gain a better understanding of their expectations and demands, further enhancing your control of your agency’s growth.
- Employee awareness of the importance of communication with customers (Take nothing for granted. No matter how sharp your staff may seem, and especially if there are new team members, have a training method in place to educate staff on the value of customer communication)
- Seeking feedback (positive and negative) from customers on your marketing performance
- Increasing loyalty through special offers, other customer appreciation incentives
- Failure transparency; letting your customers know if and when things go awry, and your plan to correct your mistakes
- Appreciation; verbally or textually informing your customers that you acknowledge how valuable their business is to you
When it comes to appreciation and feedback, set a schedule in place (bi-weekly, monthly, etc.) to open a line of communication with the people entrusting you for your marketing services. Exceptional customer service will pay off in retention rates that will not only blow your mind but keep you in control of sustained growth.
Customer retention is crucial for your steady growth. It’s challenging but possible when applying the following practices:
- Engaging your employees
- Educating your customers
- Constant reporting
- Providing exceptional customer service
If you’d like to learn more about best practices for growing your agency we invite you to download our FREE “how to stay in control while growing your digital marketing agency” report.