Relationships. In order for them to be meaningful, they take an investment of time, they take attention and they take authenticity. The single reason for the success or failure of any business is directly linked to the strength of the relationships that exist between their people and their clients.
Let’s not kid ourselves, we all know the difference between a strong, valued relationship and a competitive relationship with our clients. However, what’s often missing in organizations is the discipline to measure and monitor the quality of their relationships and the strategy to take action in a way that continually advances the relationships. Sadly, many companies in fact budget for a 20% or greater loss in their client base annually because they don’t have a plan.
There is a proven methodology to ensure that once you bring on a client, you continually advance your relationship with them. It consists of adopting these two basic principles:
1. Always Be Grateful for The Customer.
You must be in the customer business. Not the manufacturing, professional services, consulting, etc. business, but the customer business.
The following quote is attributed to many leaders throughout history including Mahatma Gandhi and Kenneth B Elliott. The message is powerful and just like our valued personal relationships, we must always be grateful for them.
“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises, he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so."
Hold yourself and your team accountable for recognizing that your clients are the reason for your existence. You see, the client is not a building or a logo. The client is made up of a group of people. People that are looking for positive experiences. People who look to derive value from interactions they have with you. The way we think about our clients influence the way we act toward them. Every “touch” influences their decision on whether they will stay with you, or go elsewhere. Never let anyone blame the client for not valuing you. Beware of phrases such as “They just don’t get it.” “This customer is dumb.” “What a pain in….” If the client doesn’t value you, you simply haven’t done your job, yet. Look inside yourself or your company and find the reason and fix it.
2. Implement a Data-Driven Process That Will Monitor the Health of Your Client Relationships.
Your ability to keep a client is directly related to your ability to deliver on what you promised when you sold them AND your ability to continually adapt to their changing needs and wants. If you do this, you will strengthen and advance the relationships you have and grow your business. And guess what? No matter how talented your sales people are, their perspective of the client relationships is way too insubstantial to rest the fate of your company upon. You need a fact-based, data-driven way to measure and monitor the strength of your relationships and swiftly take the necessary actions to advance them.
At Butler Street, we feel so strongly about the need to focus on Advancing the Relationship®, we not only trademarked the phrase, but we built an entire Account Management program around it, called
ClientFit™. The essential components include:
An at a glance, real-time view of the overall health of each client relationship. It includes your level of risk of them leaving you and your best path for product/service expansion. In short, it’s a fact-based client retention and cross-selling report.
The ability to measure and monitor every relationship within your client so you can take the necessary actions to advance each relationship. The fact is that no relationship stays static; you are either advancing it, or it’s moving backward.
An understanding of how connected your client truly is to your organization. How many people in your organization have real relationships with how many people at your client? The goal is to become at least 3 x 3 in order to reduce your risk of client loss.
Identification of the right actions you need to take that will strengthen the relationships you have, increase your retention, expand your share of wallet and provide referrals.
Redefine failure from losing an account to failure to take action. Regardless of the situation, the one thing you can control is your behavior. Now you’ll know what action to take and when to take it.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help your organization, retain, grow and advance the relationships in your most important clients.