Client retention is an important part of any small business, especially because retaining an existing customer is much cheaper than finding and converting a new one. However, client retention can be hard to achieve with so much competition.
Businesses need to do more than just offer quality products and services to their customers. They also need to build trust and loyalty and deepen relationships with them to retain their customers.
We started the Agency Growth Initiative to inspire, challenge and equip agencies with the knowledge they need to grow their business. We interviewed Shaun Clark, CEO and co-founder of HighLevel, who shared key strategies you can use to increase your client retention.
Why Is Client Retention So Important? How Does it Impact the Health of a Company?
Traditionally, client retention has been seen as a cost rather than an investment. However, the data clearly shows that retaining customers is 6-7 times cheaper than acquiring new ones and that client retention rates have a direct impact on the health of a company.
Clark believes client retention is an important KPI for businesses because it’s a sign that the business is doing something right. It’s a metric heavily influenced by the quality of service the business provides. He emphasizes the Recurring Revenue Model, where you get paid monthly, regardless of when a customer joined. But the challenge with this model is customer churn because if customers are constantly dropping out, it’s not a viable business. That’s where client retention comes in.
According to Clark, it becomes even more critical when trying to maximize your customers’ LTV or lifetime value. This is when you look at how much money a customer will bring to the business over its lifetime. If client retention is not top of mind, maximizing that LTV figure is impossible.
On the other hand, if your client retention is good, then you know that the product or service you’re offering is something people are happy with and willing to pay for. On top of that, it means that even after sales, clients are likely to recommend you to their friends and family.
What Are Some of the Top Challenges When It Comes to Retaining Clients?
Each business has its own unique set of challenges when it comes to client retention. For HighLevel, Clark says it’s really about adoption. Even if you have an awesome product, it doesn’t matter how hard you work if customers don’t take the time to understand and use your technology.
That’s why Clark has focused on the human element, training their clients, providing help docs and customer support, and jumping on a Zoom call with anyone who needs help. For instance, if you get on the phone with one of their people, they will set you up and stick like glue. This helps customers get the best value from their technology, leading to better client retention.
He quotes how most people think self-service is the way to go, but it’s always easier if you have an individual helping. However, adoption is key. If you get the adoption, you’ll keep that customer for life. If not, they’re likely to leave.
What Are Some of the Key Strategies That Have Worked for HighLevel When it Comes to Retaining Clients and Building Long-Term Relationships?
You need to understand the underlying gaps to increase client retention. The problem with most agencies is the misalignment between what they offer and the customer’s expectations. That’s a huge factor in client churn.
To understand this, let’s say an agency offers a bespoke service for $3,000/month, but the customer expects something more basic and cheaper at $300/month. There’s no way the agency can provide a product that meets the customer’s expectations at this price point. No matter how good the product is, it doesn’t matter because they’re unwilling to pay for it.
This is why Clark believes selling software is much easier than services. With software as a service (SaaS), you can offer a lower price point and provide a product that meets the customer’s expectations. The reason is simple: the services cost $3000/month, and the software is only $300/month.
It’s also worth noting that when you sell software, you go from being a high-churn, unscalable business to a very low-churn, highly scalable business. You don’t have to create bespoke stuff over and over again. Plus, the original goal of all this is that you want to help the business succeed, thrive and grow. Therefore, ensure that your products, pricing, and scale are a good mix. That’s how you will crack the code as an agency to scale your business. If you can do that, client retention won’t be a problem anymore!
Moreover, with software as a service, you don’t have to worry about your clients demanding an update or change in the middle of the night. You can simply deliver it by pushing an automated update; you don’t have to be available 24/7. It’s a much more scalable option that allows you to maximize the LTV figure.
How to Setup Realistic Expectations With Clients?
Expectations are what set us up for success or failure. Understand what your client wants and needs, and then create realistic and achievable expectations.
Many agencies make the mistake of approaching the customer with feature-based expectations, which can lead to disappointment and churn. What they should be doing is focusing on outcomes. Outcomes are the objective measure of success and what your client wants to see from their investment in you.
The thing with selling features is that it suddenly turns into a debate between two people who probably don’t have the same level of expertise, making it a moot point. Instead, focus on outcomes and make sure you don’t overpromise. They are easy to track and measure. If you’re clear with your customers about what they should expect, they will be much more likely to stay with you as they’ll know what to expect.
Businesses usually care about outcomes such as:
- More leads
- High ratings and reviews
- Higher ranking in search engines
- Increase in revenue or conversions
When talking to your client, always focus on these outcomes and how the tools you provide will help them achieve those goals. This way, you build up how that tool goes towards those outcomes. Ask them questions to understand what they’re trying to achieve and then develop a solution to help them meet those goals.
What Kind of Role Does Communication Play in Client Retention?
Communication is everything. If you’re not communicating with your client regularly, they might assume you’re not doing anything. It is important to show them that you care and are actively engaged in the project.
The best way to do this is to set up regular calls with your client. You can also use this time to address any issues that may arise and come up with a plan to address them. Do one-on-one calls as well if you’ve got a handful of customers.
This is especially true for local businesses looking for someone to walk with them on the journey. If you’re serving local customers, you should take the relationship to a more personal level. Have coffee or lunch with them, and let them know you’re there for them and invested in their success. Remember, local businesses buy locally, and they serve locally. So if you can show up at their location and build a relationship with them, it will be invaluable to your business. If there are too many customers to do one-on-one calls, try the one-to-many approach. Rent a room, host events, and invite customers in your area to come down and chat. Give them freebies and ensure they walk away feeling like they got something valuable.
Communication is key to building trust. Trust that creates retention. Whatever approach you choose, be visual and tactile and focus on outcomes. Keep in mind that people have no way to judge your expertise. For instance, if you hire a plumber, you don’t know if they’re the best. But if they can call you back quickly, quote a price quickly, and get in and fix the pipe quickly, then you’re more likely to hire them. It’s the same with your clients. Build trust by communicating effectively and offering solutions that meet their goals.
How Do You Measure Client Satisfaction?
It’s simple: measure customer churn. Churn is the percentage of customers who leave you within a given period. This number will tell you how satisfied your customers are with your product or service.
Talk to your customers constantly, and ask them what went wrong if they were leaving. Be personable and ask them how you can do better. Ask questions like “What can we do better?” Show them the results you’ve achieved and how their business has improved working with you. But make sure to do this person-to-person, not through a survey, as they will be more likely to open up to you.
Clients don’t often respond to survey forms, so reach out personally and ask them how they feel about your services. You ought to do this throughout your relationship. If you do that, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and identify roadblocks before they become problems. This will help you measure customer satisfaction and proactively address any issues that may arise.
How Do You Prioritize Customer Service?
When it comes to customer service, you want to ensure that your team has the right resources and processes. This includes having a well-defined customer service process and ensuring your team has the tools to become more productive.
At HighLevel, they have got the most extensive customer service team that includes:
- A team that focuses on answering people’s questions before they sign up for a trial
- A trial team that only focuses on individuals and their trial
- A 90-day team that focuses on customers for the first 90 days
- A support team that takes all kinds of requests and tickets
Customer service is a top priority. Think of it this way; there’s no way in the world anyone should ever quit you. If you do that, you’ll realize that customer service is the only thing keeping that person from quitting.
A value proposition is another way to prioritize customer service. Ensure you supplement your product with resources like a weekly report about what you’re doing for them. For instance, at HighLevel, they send out weekly reports showing customers their achievements and how their business has improved.
Prioritize customer support from the early stages of your interaction. The second someone signs up for your product or service; they should have access to a team of customer support agents to help them whenever needed. Get them on a call and meet with them as soon as possible to discuss how you can create great outcomes for them. Focus on delivering outstanding support and be there whenever they need you.
What Kind of Impact Can Customer Service Have on Client Retention?
When it comes to client retention, customer service can make or break it. That’s why you need to watch related KPIs like a hawk. For instance, if you talk to HighLevel’s onboarding team, the likelihood of conversion from trial to paid almost triples. And once they convert, the possibility of churning when they speak to their 90-day team cuts in half. These KPIs can directly impact client retention rates and should be monitored closely.
You can create hundreds of resources about your product being self-service. But that won’t be effective if you don’t prioritize customer service. Give customers the help and guidance they need, reach out personally, prioritize customer support from the early stages of interaction, and watch your KPIs closely to see how customer service impacts client retention. If you do this, you’ll be able to create great outcomes for your customers and make sure they remain loyal to your product or service.
How Do You Tailor Your Services and Approach to Meet the Unique Needs of Different Clients?
The reality is that you can’t make everything custom. This is where most of the agencies go wrong. It’s like a land of misery. You need to focus on things that unify all small businesses.
Look at this from a different perspective. Instead of jumping straight into customizing your services, look at what common challenges most small businesses face and how you can tailor your approach to meet those challenges. For instance, if you ask any small business owner about their biggest challenge, they will most likely say that it’s getting more customers. So focus your conversation on how you can help them get more customers.
Clark suggests that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time. You just need to show yourself as an expert. Ask questions, diagnose their needs, and determine which tools in your toolbox would help them achieve the desired outcome. And if they start moving off into some specific term, that becomes customer work, and you just want to stay away from the customer because it doesn’t scale.
For instance, how often do you go to a car dealership and say, “I want to change the color or create custom settings”? You just don’t get those options, yet you’re quite happy with your vehicle. And that’s the point. Focus on what you can do for them rather than trying to customize everything for each client.
The key to success here is to sell a positive ROI because that will make clients happy and keep them coming back. Focus on delivering the things that matter the most to them in a way you know they need without veering off course. This will ensure that you can scale and make more money in the process.
How Does Automation Improve Client Satisfaction and Retention?
Automation plays a crucial role in lead nurturing, essential to client satisfaction and retention. Automation helps you quickly respond to customer inquiries, go through leads faster, and keep in touch with customers without having to manually check emails or phone calls.
Many businesses make the mistake of generating leads without nurturing them. They constantly ask themselves why they are not getting more leads, but the truth is that if you aren’t nurturing your leads and providing them with a personalized experience, you won’t be able to convert them.
From an agency’s perspective, it’s an age-old issue where they ran a great Facebook ads campaign and generated hundreds of leads but were fired for it. Why? Because none of these leads were nurtured. This is where automation just crushes it. When a lead comes in, you need to automatically text them, follow up with them regularly, and provide relevant information to ensure their continued engagement.
For instance, if a lead signed up for the free teeth cleaning offer, you can use automation to send them an immediate text saying, “Welcome! We’ve got to get you booked on an appointment. Is now a good time?” This way, you have already made their customer journey smooth and personalized, making them feel appreciated and likely to come back for more.
How Do You Leverage Your CRM to Nurture Client Relationships?
A well-managed Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system plays a vital role in nurturing and building strong client relationships. By harnessing the power of your CRM, you can effectively track all interactions with clients and prospects, creating personalized communication strategies that resonate with them at every touchpoint. To truly leverage your CRM for improved customer relations, it’s essential to develop data-driven insights into their preferences and behaviors.
Further enhancing its functionality by integrating web forms allows for seamless capture of potential leads or inquiries from online visitors straight into your database, ensuring no opportunity goes unnoticed! Remember not to overwhelm yourself by trying to implement every feature available.
According to Clark, HighLevel’s CRM is a powerful tool for nurturing client relationships. It allows businesses to do things like reactivations. This lets them see a list of all their clients and check the last time one person purchased or visited their location.
Clark believes that automation is the best part of their workflow builder. People can use this feature to set up rules to do things automatically, like sending coupons to those who haven’t interacted with your business in the last month. This is an effective way to re-engage with clients and increase their loyalty.
Automation wins the day because it does what we should be doing as humans but doesn’t always have time for it. These automated services help small businesses capture all the inbound channels while providing a better ROI and minimal effort!
How Do You Demonstrate Value and ROI to Clients?
As a marketing professional, demonstrating value and return on investment (ROI) to your clients plays a crucial role in building trust and maintaining long-term relationships. Not only do you need to prove that your strategies are effective, but you also must show evidence of the tangible benefits brought about by their investment. Begin by understanding your client’s specific goals and priorities, be it increased sales or improved brand awareness, focusing on aligning with these objectives while tailoring campaigns accordingly.
Employ data-driven decision-making processes throughout each stage of planning, executing, and tracking results to yield valuable insights that help optimize outcomes. Providing clear proof of positive returns from existing campaigns serves as a helpful benchmark when explaining progress toward predetermined targets set out at earlier stages of project development. Illustrating not just success over the time period measured, but also areas where there may still be room for improvement further down the line, leads to greater growth potential and overall financial gains.
Additionally, incorporate qualitative measures such as customer satisfaction, testimonials, and reviews to provide a more in-depth understanding of the true impact of investments. This is rather than only looking at the initial numbers.
According to Shaun, HighLevel is not like other white-label providers. The company doesn’t just stop at being the most affordable provider; it gives its clients tools that help them make money selling. He Quotes, “We’re giving you an entire business built on top of HighLevel, instead of just giving you a tool.” He believes that their company allows agencies to build an entirely new business instead of just giving them a tool. That’s what sets them apart from other providers and demonstrates the value they bring to their clients.
How Do You Approach Upselling and Cross-Selling to Existing Clients? What’s Your Strategy Behind It?
One key aspect of successful upselling or cross-selling involves timing combined with carefully crafted product limitations, a consideration especially vital for SaaS providers who rely heavily upon recurring revenues due to low churn rates. You need to use data analytics tools. These are specialized tools that can identify consumer pain points that are related to their current purchasing habits. Once you have identified these pain points, you can then create compelling demonstrations to showcase the benefits of additional services. This should entice prospective buyers, and also draw them in with strategically placed usage constraints.
Personalize your approach towards fostering upsells or cross-sales opportunities, and shorten any associated cycles, including tailored recommendations based both on historical affinity trends along with pricing options sensitive to individual client budgets without compromising profit margins overall. This might include flexible payment plans to help make higher-priced items more accessible long-term. Meanwhile, when possible, utilize bundling tactics creating perceived bargains aimed at small-scale purchasers otherwise hesitant to commit to larger spending levels right away, connecting lower-ticket goods/services packages easily upgraded down the line once continued satisfaction is demonstrated/experienced.
Clark says, “To existing clients, we show them the features they haven’t used already and their value. We show them how they can add more and get more value without having to pay too much for a particular feature. If they are already using any other service, we should present them with the alternative at significantly less money. On top of that, we help them set it up and offer pre-done templates, workflow, and automation, something they can’t say No to.”
For new clients, they emphasize how their services can help them reduce their costs and get more out of their marketing budget. They also show them how their services can help them reach their goals faster.
The key is to show them how easily they can improve their marketing, social media, sales funnels, and automation with your services/products.
How Do You Onboard a New Client? How Do You Ensure Long-Term Success?
Onboarding is all about creating a streamlined, comprehensive process that demonstrates your expertise and commitment to addressing their needs. Focus on clear communication, thorough planning, and meticulous organization from the outset of your partnership to instill confidence in your ability to deliver results that meet or exceed expectations.
To start off with an efficient onboarding strategy, identify the goals and objectives shared by both parties. This ensures mutual understanding between you as service providers and them as valued customers. Develop an action plan outlining how these targets will be met through collaboration across various stages of engagement, from project initiation all the way up until final review sessions after completion.
This approach helps maintain transparency while also setting realistic deadlines which are easily trackable over time. Allocate responsibilities based not only upon individual skill sets but also considering factors like compatibility among different members who possess similar interests or backgrounds pertaining specifically to working together effectively during ongoing interactions via meetings (whether face-to-face encounters or virtual).
Finally, establish a feedback loop that allows for continuous improvement. This can be done by regularly soliciting feedback from clients on their experience with the onboarding process and how it can be improved. This helps to ensure that the process remains relevant and up-to-date with the changing needs of the customer.
Clark quotes, “We do a one-on-one onboarding on Zoom call to welcome them to our company and get them on board. Our reporting allows sending communication about all the killer stuff that we’re doing, like how many appointments we got that week for that business or how many reviews we got for them. Our reports also include the opportunities, leads, and conversations that we drive for them.”
The key to successful onboarding and long-term success is creating an open communication line. You need to figure out who you are when you’re starting and ensure your clients know they can come to you with any questions or concerns. Get on one-on-one calls to review reports, and use these meetings to upsell and cross-sell.
As you grow, you can have weekly or monthly webinars to communicate with your clients and create an environment of trust. An engaged space where they feel like you’re constantly understanding their needs and providing real value is key to a successful long-term relationship.
How Do You Ensure Your Team Members Are Well-Equipped to Meet the Needs of Your Clients?
To ensure your team members are well-equipped to meet the needs of your clients, focus on fostering a strong collaborative environment that encourages knowledge sharing and efficient teamwork. Establish clear communication channels within the organization, and enable open discussions between team leaders and employees regarding goals, objectives, or potential challenges affecting client projects. This transparency can lead to innovative solutions for complex tasks while creating an inclusive atmosphere where everyone’s input is valued.
Encourage ongoing professional development through training programs tailored specifically toward enhancing skills relevant to client work. Consider offering opportunities such as workshops or seminars that address both emerging industry trends and key interpersonal skills like conflict resolution or cross-cultural understanding. By investing in their personal growth and expertise consistently over time, you not only demonstrate commitment towards employee success but also equip them better with tools essential for exceptional service delivery when interacting directly with clients.
Assign specific roles to each team member in order to minimize overlap and promote adaptation when unexpected changes arise during the project lifecycle. Achieving this balance will ensure smooth progress without the potential disagreements that often arise in larger teams concerning responsibilities, turf protection, etc. These disputes can create unnecessary bottlenecks.
According to Shaun Clark, “A big part of HighLevel’s culture is like what’s right for the customer. We put everybody on the front lines with customers. And then from there when you’re making a decision like who is this going to impact the most? If you’re going to cause inconvenience to someone, make sure you’re inconveniencing yourself, not the customer. As long as we continue to keep the company customer-focused and do a great job where we’re always trying to take the hit from the customer so that they don’t have to take the hit for us.”
What Are Some Common Mistakes or Pitfalls to Avoid When It Comes to Client Retention?
The main pitfall to avoid when it comes to client retention is not keeping up with your customer service hiring. Don’t get behind on your customer service hiring. If you don’t have enough great people on your team, it puts a strain on the quality of the service you’re providing.
Remember, it’s incredibly difficult to hire great people. It takes a long time to scale up those types of machines or to find people, so make sure you are hiring ahead of demand. You want to live in a world where you’ll get requests for customer service faster than you can hire people.
Having a good customer service staff is essential for client retention. If you don’t hire enough customer service staff, it won’t matter how great you’re doing in sales or marketing, as your team on the other side of the desk keeps draining out.
So start with great customer service in mind and focus on hiring people passionate about helping your customers. Then you can start focusing on the sales part since with great customer service comes loyal customers.
Can You Share Some Key Takeaways for Those Who Are Looking to Improve Client Retention in Their Own Business?
Be more present and be more engaged with your customers. Be willing to get more on visual calls or do more in-person events. The closer you can get your clients, the more they will know you. Most of the retention issues in the world are because customer interaction feels impersonal and disengaged. Make sure to prioritize your customers’ needs and inconvenience yourself rather than the customer.
Keep yourself close to your customers and give them the personal touch that makes or breaks that long-term outcome. Hire ahead of demand when it comes to customer service staff, and make sure that your team is well-trained in customer focus.
Client retention is an incredibly important part of any business. With the right strategies in place, you can ensure that your customers stay with you for a long time. We hope the tips and takeaways we shared have given you some insight into better retaining your customers.