Converting new customers into returning clients is a key element to your business’s success. Having a “recurring” customer base is crucial when it comes to accurately projecting out your budget, making marketing decisions, and even estimating your own take-home pay. Not to mention, it’s six to seven times cheaper to keep a current customer than acquiring a new one.
Plain and simple, doing great work is, obviously, the best way to keep a client for life but there are lots of professionals out there who do great work. You need to do more than the obvious to stand out. Here are some simple and softer techniques you can do to make sure your past clients call you the next time they need future service.
1. Don't play hard to get
First impression is everything. For your clients, their first impression of your brand is the first time they schedule that initial appointment with you. Be sure to make that process as seamless as possible.
I’ve never met anyone who enjoys dealing with logistics. Don’t force your clients to spend more time than needed when scheduling an appointment with you. Your customers don’t have time to trade endless voicemails or emails with you to figure out if you can help them and when you’re available.
When they call, pick up. When they email, be quick to respond. Ideally, have a way for clients to browse your calendar and availability, in real-time, and send you specific job requests directly online without even needing to pick up the phone. List your services online, so your clients know exactly if you can fulfill their needs.
Save your clients time dealing with logistics and they’ll love you for it. Think about it. If these clients like your service, they will schedule appointments with you many times over. Make it easy for them.
2. Make the payment experience hassle-free
Paying for services can be a pretty inconvenient experience for clients. It’s the awkward “How much do I owe you?” then “What kind of payment do you accept” then “Let me grab my wallet / a check / my card.” It’s cumbersome.
First, make sure your clients know upfront what they’re going to be paying when they hire you (or at least a ballpark range). Transparency always makes everyone more comfortable. This also reduces the risk of any type of negotiation or pushback when it actually comes time to pay.
Be accommodating when it’s actually time to pay up. Don’t force your clients to have cash on them or dig up a check. Accept any type of payment, but don’t be afraid to introduce your customers to new payment technologies that can make their lives easier
Payment technology is changing. Look at how Uber has transformed the way clients pay for taxi service. If I didn’t have to open my wallet at the end of each hired job, I’d want to recreate that payment experience as much as possible.
3. Anticipate your client’s needs
In many cases, your customer’s needs are not simply “one and done.” Clients hire a variety of “regular” service needs, ranging from once a week to once a month to once a year.
Keep notes on your clients and reach out when you think they might need service again. You know if your business is the type where services are recurring (i.e., cleaning, styling, training, etc.). If your client could be due for another service appointment, send a friendly email or text inquiring and letting them know you’re happy to help.
Direct marketing to past clients can can be very effective and add a ton of value. If you did great work, and if your scheduling and payment experience is frictionless, there is every reason for your client to recreate that experience with you over and over again.