In business, your clients are everything. They’re the reason your product or service exists and thrives. They’re the reason you have the chance to disrupt your industry. And, at the most basic level, they’re the reason you can keep the lights on and employ a team of great people. Yet clients can be hard to hold onto, even for legacy brands, which indicates that we all need to do a better job learning about actual pain points.
How, then, can you reduce client churn and build lasting, mutually beneficial connections? One way is through gaining a better understanding of who your clients truly are.
When you know your clients inside and out, you position your business for success. Loyal, trusting clients don’t want to explore greener pastures. Even if you make a mistake — which you will — they’ll be more apt to give you some slack rather than leave. Plus, they’ll be highly likely to send unsolicited referrals your way.
Of course, it can be challenging to get to know your clients on more than a cursory level. You can start by perusing your first-party and third-party data. However, looking at your insider information is only the tip of the iceberg. To dive deep and forge lasting bonds with clients, you have to go the extra mile by implementing the following steps.
1. Learn and use your clients’ natural voices.
Have you ever noticed that different people use different types of words?
Some prefer technical jargon. Others like simple words and sentences. Part of your relationship-building journey should be to identify the language your clients use. That way, you can echo their favored phrasings in your oral and written communications.
For instance, perhaps you’re working with a lot of American veterans. It’s not atypical for members of the armed forces to use the military alphabet, even when they’re addressing civilians. When spelling out the name Bob, they might say “Bravo. Oscar. Bravo.” Knowing this, if you had to spell something back, you could use the military alphabet, too.
Finding each client’s voice will take some time and energy. Nevertheless, it can show that you’re making an effort to be in tune with them.
2. Experiment with numerous digital communication channels.
Do you have clients who seem to leave every text on “Read” but will answer calls right away? Or clients who rely on emails almost exclusively?
Welcome to a world where multichannel communication is the mainstay of daily life. However, people are surprisingly picky about which channels they use, and who they use them with.
Case in Point
Statistically, clients of each major generational cohort will tend to prefer certain communication channels. For example, Millennials are highly comfortable with messaging app platforms such as WhatsApp. But you can’t assume that all your Millennial clients want to send and receive an app-based communique.
Ideally, you should know the right channel to use for each of your clients. Make sure you know the right channel for all scenarios, too. A DM’d reminder of an upcoming meeting might be perfect…but a DM’d invoice probably wouldn’t make sense.
The better you become at choosing appropriate digital channels for the moment and the client, the easier it will be to promote prompt responses and friction-free exchanges.
3. Send surveys regularly.
Collecting feedback from your clients allows you to stay on top of their real-time needs. At the same time, you can use your survey findings to nudge out more information about your clients.
Let’s say your business builds and sells sales technology. You might send out client surveys asking how the clients are using your tech solutions. Their answers could give you an insider peek into future relationship-building avenues. A client might even tell you about using your tech in a way that your design team never anticipated. This gives you a great excuse to set up a conversation and learn not just about the client but alternative uses for your product.
Of course, you can’t just collect client surveys and file them away. Either look for clues by hand or use AI-fueled software that can spot trends in the feedback. Once you notice some trends, you can leverage them in all your client dealings.
4. Gain an understanding of clients’ values.
Your clients care about many things. Could you name three to five of them off the top of your head? Do you feel like you have an accurate understanding of their purpose or “Why?”
If you’re not sure, take measures to find out. You don’t have to come right out and ask, though. You can get creative instead. Social listening and conducting digital research on your biggest clients can reveal tons of information.
LinkedIn is a good place to begin uncovering what matters most to a client. See which articles your client has published, read, or liked. Read any comments your client has posted that you can see. Even thin or limited LinkedIn profiles can serve up interesting insights. While you’re still on LinkedIn, be sure to look up a client’s business page, too.
From that point, Google your way to even more client knowledge. It doesn’t take much time roaming the internet to construct a fuller, richer, and more focused picture of every client. (You can do this while prospecting, too.)
Like most professionals, you have a packed calendar. But don’t think of learning about your clients as just another time-consuming checklist item. Think of it as an investment that will pay massive dividends including higher retention rates and lower turnover.