7 Best Practices on Communicating with Clients
Knowing how to give excellent customer service is something that many small businesses seem to struggle with these days. There are some really compelling statistics that show why excellent customer service needs to be a priority for every business.
For example, did you know that according to SCORE (Counselors to America’s Small Business), 91% of unhappy customers will never purchase goods or services from you again? Also it costs a company 5 times more to get a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.
With this in mind, I am going to share some best practices we use here at Imprezzio Marketing to keep our customers happy and satisfied.
1. Make sure you initiate contact with every customer at least once a month.
Most often we engage our customers more frequently than that due to them asking questions about their account or us getting information from them to do our job better. However, at the bare minimum, if you aren’t contacting each customer at least once a month, you will notice significant retention ratio issues.
2. Make sure you reply to all their inquiries in less than 1 business day.
If a client emails me with a question about their account that requires further research, we still always make sure to reply to the customer letting them know that we are looking into it and that we will get back to them shortly with more details. This reassures the customer that you actually got their message and that you consider their questions and concerns valid. It always amazes me at how many emails I send to companies that don’t get responses for several days. Ideally, the best scenario is to respond within the same hour but the absolute worst case scenario would be 1 day.
3. Make sure you regularly remind your clients what they are getting for their money.
One of the most common questions you will get when selling any marketing service is “What am I paying for again?”. We take it upon ourselves to constantly show the customers what they are paying for. If there are tracking measures we can implement like call tracking or lead forms, these often help us show the clients the value of what they are getting. Another great way of doing this is outlining the hours that were spent on their account and exactly what work was done. We recently redesigned our SEO packages and now list the number of hours of work each client gets a month. This helps the clients know that we are transparent and have nothing to hide from them. It also helps separate us from the numerous “bad” SEO companies out there that just take the money and do the bare minimum.
4. Dedicate significant resources to client retention.
At Imprezzio Marketing, we have an entire department with several staff who are hired just for customer service and retention. Their job is to make sure our customers are satisfied and happy with our service. I think a lot of small businesses are under the impression that this is a labor cost they can’t afford, when in reality, it’s something they really can’t afford to not have. According to the same SCORE report, if you make an effort to remedy customer complaints, 82-95% will stay with you.
5. Understand that some clients need more communication than others.
It would be easier for budgeting if we could accurately predict the number of hours each customer takes to make happy. Unfortunately, the reality is that some customers require much more effort than others. The good news is that generally clients who spend more are the ones who require more work. So overall, if you are doing a great job educating your clients on their services, this shouldn’t be a big labor issue.
6. Understand the form of communication that works best for your client.
Generally, we find that emailing is the best form of communication. Since our client base is all businesses (not consumers), they are constantly in front of their email and we have a better shot of getting their attention. Often, phone calls go unanswered because the business owner isn’t there or messages don’t get properly passed on to them. Email is also great because it is documented. There have been some cases where we had customers complain that we never update them only to discover that our emails were going to their junk folders. In these cases, it is really easy for us to show the customer all the efforts we put into contacting them. Showing this with phone calls is harder. That being said, we have some customers who have told us that their preference is to be contacted by phone each month. We modify our communication method based on the client’s preference.
7. The amount of communication needed often decreases the longer the customer is with you.
We have found that customers often have the most questions in the beginning of our relationship with them. As we spend time with them and gain their trust, they tend to have more faith in what we do and trust our recommendations and suggestions more.
About Imprezzio Marketing
Imprezzio Marketing is an online marketing company that currently works with over 1,300 small businesses in the United States and Canada. For the items in this article I interviewed our Customer Service Manager Caitlin Armstrong to get the insights on what worked best with our client base. Our main services are Local SEO, Google Places Consulting, and Adwords Management.
Got a different viewpoint on this subject or some useful insights you want to share? We’re interested in publishing unique content written by smart marketeers on our blog. Contact us with your details & ideas and we’ll get back to you ASAP!