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Tips for Maintaining and Building Long Term Clients

October 3, 2011

The Key to long term clients? Keep your focus on them rather than on your packages, services, website, etc. I know it’s hard when you are the cook, chief bottle washer, and the server for your business! But, it’s easy to get caught up in running our business and forget about tending clients.

Intuit, sense, and figure out what your past client’s problems or wishes are and offer solutions. Listen carefully to what they say and don’t say. Make it fun! Compelling! High value. Offer additional services, deals, or benefits. Put a note in your calendar to contact them before a big event or milestone. Remind them when a particular holiday or celebration comes around that they wanted photographs or support.

Here are a couple of other steps to take:

  1. Since you strive to give stellar value during the service delivery be sure to formally ask for feedback every single time. Develop a feedback form – either on-line, written, or via email: What did you love? How can I improve? What else did would you have enjoyed? Feedback sets up a conversation and the more you ask, the more you have a chance to show your commitment to excellence and your responsiveness to their needs.
  2. Celebrate them. Help your clients see how beautiful, worthy, valuable, fantastic, loving, or competent they really are – even when they don’t feel that way. Keep holding up an accurate but positive mirror. I look for, search, and find lots of specific ways each coaching and consulting client of mine is smart, dedicated, interesting, compassionate. Whatever their strengths, I amplify it. Then I take it one step further and listen for what really matters to them (their quick mind, their big heart, their common sense, their generosity) and I affirm that as well.
  3. Show how they are part of a community of people who enjoy your professional service or product. Tell brief stories of other clients – While you want to be discreet on the details – you can still point to some pictures and highlight a cute detail that shows the wonderful personality of their kids. Build your reputation by sharing how much you love what you do with funny, quirky, personal stories.

Really and truly? I hold each and every client in my heart and mind. Once they sign a letter of agreement to work with me they have me fully on their team, backing their action, nudging them into accountability. I give them my attention and they feel it. It’s a boost!

One of my favorite clients is an organization I’ve had the pleasure to work with for almost 17 years. I coach the CEO and other senior managers, lead their Senior Management Retreats once or twice a year, train new staff, help develop new managers, resolve conflicts, and celebrate successes. I’ve known some of their staff that long as well. We’ve all grown together. Sometimes I work a lot and sometimes a little, but I always maintain connection. It’s a joy as they create a lot of good in the world by producing events that raise millions for research and services for those with AIDS. Have you ever walked in the SF, LA, or NY AIDS Walk? I have and it’s inspiring beyond belief.

BTW – Tomorrow I’ll post the blog from SOAR! where I’m a guest blogger on Finding and Securing Clients.

What works for you to maintain clients? I’d love to know.

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