A company’s ability to grow its book of business cannot and should not rely solely on the sales team’s ability to bring on new clients. There must be an equal or greater emphasis on improving client retention and increasing their revenue as it is much harder to fill a bucket with water if it is covered with holes.
Not only is it more expensive to bring on a new client but once a client feels confident in your product and service, they will increase the amount they will spend with you. But how does a company improve customer retention? Create a strong company culture where customer and employee satisfaction is integral in everything you do. A company where their employees are happy and believe in the company culture not only directly impacts the customer’s satisfaction but also has a direct impact on the bottom line of the company resulting in a 22% increase in profitability, 21% more productivity, 10% bump in customer ratings, and 18% increase in customer retention. (1, 3)
But what can a company do to facilitate client retention?
- Make sure to make the right hires not only for the team they will work with but that mirror the vision and share the values of the company personally.
Developing a team is costly, but it can be even more costly if you hire the wrong person. Utilizing unorthodox hiring protocols that illuminate your company culture can help immediately identity who might fit in. Not that you will you make a hiring decision solely on a buzzfeed quiz, but if participating in buzzfeed quizzes to create conversation and enhance team comradery, if someone doesn’t complete them and you asked them to, might be a sign that they will not enjoy the work environment.
When making the decision to bring someone on, it is important that we review the person holistically and not based on their resume or their physical appearance. Red flags and personality fits are very difficult to accurately describe in a few rounds of interviews. But with team interviews, you will not only receive feedback from everyone the potential hire would work with but you would be able to have multiple opportunities for the potential employee to shine.
As the workforce changes employers will need to make sure their culture stays as relevant as their product. Employees’ concerns are no longer working as hard and as many hours as it takes to climb the corporate ladder. That doesn’t mean people are not interested in gaining professional success, but that they are looking for a corporation that matches their personal moral compasses and respects appropriate boundaries. This is especially true for Xennials, Millennials, and Gen Z workers who are increasingly becoming a larger portion of the workforce. These generations actively look for companies that represent their social and environmental views, a position that is mentally engaging rather than monotonous, and companies that believe in a healthy work-life balance. (3)
- Create a culture where employees are and know they are valued
We have all walked into a department store or restaurant where the employees hated every moment of being there. And not like a bad day at home which caused their distraction at work. But where you could see their job was crushing their soul. Companies, where their employees are happy and feel they are valued, will go that extra mile for their clients and help take on additional duties during times when economics are strained.
- Create a company culture focused on the customer experience and not the sale
The best way to dramatically improve customer satisfaction is the make sure the client has a successful and enjoyable process from the first presale into a cold email to the conclusion of the project or product has been enjoyed. This requires the company to actively engage and listen to their customers to find areas of improvement in their processes. Once areas have been identified as areas of improvement, creating company-wide process improvements and training.
- Empower their employees to advocate for their clients
Customers who have their representatives advocating for their success feel the level of responsibility and ownership that their representatives feel for their success. The customer will feel how their representative genuinely wants them to enjoy their experience with their company and how proud they are to work there.
Advocating doesn’t necessarily only apply to a special attention to detail, it also can apply to their representative urging the rest of their team to offer something to the client that might impact the overall bottom line of the project with the hopes of improving on their relationship and solidifying a long term partnership between them.
- Empower employees to take risks and be innovative
Being innovative is important in any industry. At some point, competition will come and require it. But being innovative and taking risks can result in failures and having to have a tough conversation with their superiors and clients. By being honest and taking ownership of the mistake, along with providing immediate solutions, creates trust. This trust creates goodwill with the customer for future opportunities. Creating a company culture where employees feel empowered to be innovative and to take risks is not easy as employees can worry about job security if a mistake is made. But using every opportunity, good and bad, as a learning moment will create an environment where innovation not only happens but is encouraged.
- Build a position focused on Customer Success
A Customer Success team provides that one extra set of eyes and hands to help ensure the client gets what the client ordered. The team works directly with all client-facing team members and the client to maintain momentum, organize team members across departments, and look for opportunities to improve the customer experience.
- Reward and Celebrate Customer Success
A company is not just a logo or a product. A company is made up of all of those plus more, and most importantly, it is its employees that make sure the job gets done on time and above expectations. And since employees are so integral to a company’s success, they should be able to benefit from its rewards. Everyone wants acknowledgment for a job well done and sharing these successes company-wide helps reinforce the culture which the company is trying to create. These acknowledgments can be an employee shout-out, an award, a special highlight on the company’s social media pages, or monetary rewards. When employees are rewarded other employees will take notice and will strive to rise up to receive the same praise.
The HBR article, “Putting the Service-Profit Chain to Work” stated that there is a distinct chain reaction between internal operations’ impact on employee satisfaction and its impact on a company’s profitability and long-term growth. Creating an environment where employees are satisfied with their jobs creates loyalty to their company. This loyalty increases employee productivity which drives the value of the brand. The perceived value a customer feels about a brand impacts their customer satisfaction. A satisfied customer is a loyal customer and a loyal customer creates sustained profitability for a company to grow. A company culture based on empathy, trust, and respect for its employees creates an environment in which employees value their company, trust their superiors, and work harder for their customers.
Jayme Hill is Chief Operating Officer for Diamond Media Solutions.