What is necessary to grow a business like a digital agency? If you answered “get more clients,” that isn’t a good answer. Why? If you don’t think about how to keep your current clients and take care of your business relationship with them, they will eventually leave.
Getting more clients won’t be a sound strategy either since they too can leave. It would be better to grow your agency by nurturing the relationships you already have because existing clients have more growth potential and are more profitable for your agency over time. The key to growing your agency is to ensure you employ effective client retention strategies.
1. Manage Expectations from the Start
Setting expectations can be crucial to establish a relationship with a new client. They must know exactly what it is you can deliver, and know what is expected of them. This can be helpful in defining parameters, agreeing on the scope of work, and can be useful to avoid future disappointments or any potential misunderstanding. Agencies can stumble when they make unrealistic promises and under-deliver.
An excellent way to manage the back-and-forth process of project management, set expectations, and agree on deadlines is for the agency to provide the client with client onboarding software. With the help of a tool like this, everyone knows what’s expected of them, and it creates a calmer and more positive working relationship.
2. Work with the Right Clients
Despite your best efforts, a client can still leave. This can happen if they’re not the type of clients that you can actually work with. As your agency is starting out, it can be difficult to refuse clients and hold out for those you can work with, and appreciate your work.
It’s actually worthwhile for your agency to take the time to look at past canceled clients and look for common indicators. This can help you pinpoint any potential clients with similar qualities that can be raised as red flags. To help you manage clients better, choose to work with the ones that you will be enthusiastic enough to work with — you will do your best work and clients like these will be easier to retain.
3. Ask for Feedback and Work on It
A solid retention strategy that keeps clients is to simply ask for feedback. Sometimes, your agency can stumble or commit mistakes that your client may not point out to you unless asked. If you have a feeling that your client isn’t happy with your services, ask them directly. Not only will this give you the chance to get feedback on your agency’s performance, but it will also show how committed you are to giving them quality service.
While it may feel like a kick to the belly, listen and learn from your client’s feedback. It may be unpleasant, but it’s necessary to retain a client, especially a good one. The good news is, 70% of clients that complain will do business with you again if you resolve to address their concerns. Client complaints are a double-edged sword; their willingness to give feedback shows they are invested in your business and are unlikely to leave without saying a word. When you get any negative feedback from a client, fix it — fast.
4. Keep Communicating
Don’t limit your communication with clients only when you’re making some progress on their project. Ideally, you should be bringing them up to speed all the time, even if you think there’s nothing much to say. Clients have a tendency to get nervous if they don’t get updates from you. It’s easy for them to assume that you’ve placed their project on the back burner and aren’t working on their account.
Provide them with the reassurance that you are, by emailing or calling them. Let them know at the beginning of the workweek what you intend to accomplish. Touch base with them again and let them know what your team has done and whether the work is ahead, behind, or on schedule. Communicating with your client often makes them feel they are important since you’re keeping them in the loop and aren’t neglecting their business.
5. Show Appreciation for their Loyalty
When you have clients who have been with you long-term, show them that you appreciate them for continuing to conduct business with you. Even a handwritten note and a gift when they reach a milestone with your agency, such as hitting the five-year mark of working together, is something they will remember and appreciate. You can also give them a discount on your services when the holidays roll in.
Recognizing and expressing gratitude for your clients can encourage repeat business and strengthen the bond between your agency and their business.
Acquiring new clients is a short-term strategy, while developing a client retention strategy can ensure repeat business and assure your agency’s longevity. Remember that focusing on keeping existing clients is more cost-effective, easier, and a lot less stressful than constantly finding new leads.