We were really disheartened yesterday to hear we were losing a big client who spent £20,000 with us last month. As a result of a series of f***ups – ours and a third party supplier – we have lost a client who has been with us for three years – gave us no notice at all and switched to another supplier. Overnight. It hurts losing turnover like that.
But what hurts the team more is that they thought they had done everything to keep them.
This incident has to be used as learning exercises – and the mistakes not repeated. I am not 100% convinced that has happened here at Guildford so I am going share with YOU as well as GUILDFORD TEAM what needs to be done to stop you from falling into the same complacency trap that can truly bugger up your business.
Here’s how avoid the OUCH:
- Set expectations at the start of the relationship – Make sure you understand what they need, when they need it and what their 100% service fulfilment looks like
- Don’t promise what can’t be delivered – We are subject to third party service providers here at Diamond. Don’t promise unless you know 100% what can be delivered. And manage the suppliers fully. Don’t just presume because you have asked, that something has been completed. It’s just not what happens.
- Do what you say you are going to do – Be organised. Use a diary and reminder system. Do not forget to get back to people. Stay on it. If you care about your clients then this needs to be sorted.
- Make sure it’s done to 100% CLIENT satisfaction – Check, repeatedly, with the decision maker, that they are happy and the contract is good. Not just the operators – the actual decision maker – as the perspective may be entirely different.
- Review their needs, book in regular meets and make sure you are staying in step with their business – Just because you met their needs last year doesn’t mean you are meeting them now. Book review meets regularly. Manage your clients.
- Use contracts – Make it an annual commitment. To increase value in your clients and to ensure you can plan set up annual contracts. This may mean you have to work harder for the sale – as no obligation user agreement may be easier to win – but an annual contact sets an obligation for use which increases their commitment and increases the value in your business.
- Understand attrition – It’s very typical for clients to move on. There is a lot more loyalty in a Diamond business than in most but that still means you need to budget on 20% attrition – i.e. 20% of businesses going bust, closing down, moving on, or changing supplier EVERY YEAR. So that means to grow by 20% you have to sell at 40%.
- Take it personally – It’s your business. Fight for the work. Don’t let it go to just another supplier. A sales rep for a big national won’t be as determined as you to retain the client so fight to keep it. Don’t just accept a lost client – go back in, ask why, see if you can get them to rethink.
- Get knocked down and get back up again – Think Chumbawamba. Don’t let it get you down. S**t happens and sh**ts happen too. Loyalty doesn’t always exist – other networks have it MUCH worse. So put it down to experience. Learn. And do not repeat mistakes. Once is acceptable, twice is plain foolish, three times incompetent.
Author: Kate Lester