Client retention is one of the easiest things small business owners forget to manage. While the cost of earning a new client is 10 times greater than retaining a current one, it seems to be human nature to more aggressively pursue the new business opportunities. To be clear, it's extremely important to always pursue new business, but the first place to start with sales is in your own client roster.
In our experience, these are the top five reasons your clients are leaving you:
1. You failed to recognize that the day they sign with you, is the beginning of the end of your relationship. Wait, what? Yes, you read that right. You are your very best during the courting period. The client is an enigma you want to decode. You would drop anything to take a phone call - you would leap over tall buildings for an in-person meeting. You bring your A+ game to each email, each touch point, and the second they become a client, you move on to your next target. You don't mean to love them and leave them, but you already have them, and now you're focusing on getting the next one you don't have. It's okay for a while. If the service you provide is strong, they will still love you...for now...but someday, in the not-too-distant future, another suitor will aggressively begin to pursue your client, and if you aren't still showing them the love, they may just leave you.
2. You didn't appropriately respond to service issues. You are a luxury service provider. People expect the very best, every single time. We all know mistakes happen, but if you don't provide a response to a service failure that is commensurate to the failure, in the eyes of your client, the end will be near. When repairing a service failure, don't think about the cost of the error, consider the cost of the lost relationship. Consider the cost of advertising...the cost of earning a new client... Grand, sweeping gestures are the most appropriate for a service failure related to luxury services. Also, a well-handled service failure can earn a client for life.
3. You forgot to check yourself, before you wrecked yourself. It's easy to assume everything is fine until you hear otherwise, but that's just not how this works. Your chauffeur may have been late for a pick-up, but you didn't realize it. Every day that passes before you reach out to your client, their concern and disdain grows. Eventually, they give up on hearing from you, and just assume you didn't care...when in reality, you didn't even know. If you aren't checking in with clients on a regular basis, through surveys, phone calls, emails, etc... you don't know how you are doing. It's important to find out! Also, test out your own service regularly, through secret shoppers and spot checks. You'll be surprised at how many of the things you guarantee you do, don't actually happen.
4. You sold yourself short. Are your clients aware they can book multi-passenger vehicles with you? Do they know you provide worldwide services? Do your corporate customers know you also provide event services? Do your retail clients know you provide corporate services? The odds are, they don't. Sending an email, including information in literature, and even mentioning new services to your clients isn't enough. In order for your clients to fully understand the scope of your services, they need to experience them. Don't be afraid to give a complimentary partner network service out to let your client test the waters of your global network. Don't hesitate to offer a discount on their first use of your shuttle services, as long as it's very clear this is a courtesy to allow them to evaluate their service, and not an ongoing rate. No, sales isn't just about giving discounts or complimentary service, but if an existing client accepts either one, it means they are already considering using you for the service in the future, and at that point, it's a smart investment. Don't lose a client because they think another provider has something you don't; make sure they know all you offer...and then remind them again!
5. You didn't stay on top of your contacts. In most companies, there are several booking contacts, and often, they work independently of one another. If you win a new client, you generally have the opportunity to meet the bookers you will be working with, but what happens when one leaves? If you aren't keeping in active contact with them, a new booker can come in and use a company they had used in the past. Over the course of 18-24 months, you could have lost a majority of your initial contacts, and thus, the majority of that business. Don't let that happen. A solid contact leaving one of your clients can be a great opportunity if used properly. Find out where they are going, and leverage your relationship to get a foot in the door with their new company. Find out who is replacing them, and make sure you are in front of them immediately. Establish a great relationship with the new contact, and find out where they worked before, and who you can contact there about your services.
Admittedly, not losing clients takes a lot of time. However, there are few things in your day that are more important. Schedule your time and strategies around retaining and growing your existing clients, and make sure when you add new business, that is allowing you to grow, not just recover from the last client you lost.