As we highlighted in part one of this series, repeat customers are crucial to ensuring any organization’s lasting success, and many companies don’t have a strategy for retaining clients. This lack of planning could have severe consequences if we have an economic slowdown. Conversely, even if we don’t have a downturn, it is always important to minimize customer churn and gain their loyalty.
In staffing (and all industries), we discussed the importance of analyzing turnover metrics and customer feedback as well as becoming a specialist and communicating with clients regularly. How do we expand on those tactics and create a comprehensive strategy that keeps them engaged and coming back to us?
Find their pain and eliminate it. If you’ve developed a niche for your staffing business that solves a customer pain point, you’re on the right track to retaining your clients. People ultimately buy what holds value to them. Ask questions and listen. Find their challenges and address them — don’t assume you know their problem and jump too quickly to a solution. Let them tell you in their own words the issues with the organization, department or team. Offer a product or service that solves a critical business problem and become something more than a generic vendor or supplier.
Client expansion and relevance. Often in staffing, we make a handful of placements and think we are doing great. We then learn our competition has 100 people on assignment and makes multitudes of direct hire placements annually. Who do you think is more relevant and pivotal to the client’s business? Learn all departments, teams, business units and divisions. We want to gain client share and provide them our full suite of services. If we can service them in multiple departments and address challenges in different areas of their business, we are a vital business partner — and that solidifies retention and long-term loyalty. Further, when we become significant and relevant to them, we are less expendable.
Add value and educate. Clients have more options available to them than ever before, so go the extra mile and offer them something invaluable. Be consultative and provide products/services outside of regular staffing. Know how they define value added services, and be sure you know what offerings are important to them. Value-add services will differ from client to client — for example, you might provide industry, marketing, salary, skill set or geographical data. Additionally, we can walk them through the process of hiring and show that we are “easy to do business with.” We can also make peer introductions to others in the same industry so clients can share information in a forum. Do you keep clients educated on current trends in the workforce? Further, do you truly understand their business so you can have meaningful content to discuss with them? Embrace the practice of offering customers unique services that they can’t get from the competition.
Build trust. Trust typically takes time to build, and we shouldn’t assume clients trust us because they buy our services. Creating and fostering trust isn’t a generic approach because every person and business has different expectations. However, dependability and reliability are critical elements of building this confidence. You and your company must be consistent in delivering value to customers and following through on your promises with action — do what you say. Moreover, if you fall short or make mistakes, own it and rectify the problem. Implement process improvements to ensure the issue doesn’t repeat, and follow up to ensure the client is satisfied with the correction.
Show gratitude and think long-term. Gratitude is a lost art in business. It will set you apart from your competition, but it needs to be genuine and sincere. You have to care about the success of your clients and not just go through the motions. In addition, adopt a mindset that you are in it for the long term with your customers. Support their business and industry while understanding that it won’t always be easy and that it will take time to build their loyalty. It is unknown what the economy will or won’t do, but strive to be an indispensable, trusted advisor providing unique services to retain clients well into the future.