Kelly Kendall, Managing Director at Cordant People on the value of long term relationships
One of the questions I am frequently asked by clients is ‘why should I stay with you over a big multi-national company’ and my main answer is always the same, ‘because we aren’t a big multi-national company.’ We are part of The Cordant Group but we are a sub-company Cordant People. Because of this we are in a privileged position where we can enjoy the benefits of being a slightly smaller company with the support network of a larger one.
Running a successful recruitment agency is all down to being a people person. Your ability to communicate with people is a fundamental part of gaining the trust of your clients. Similarly, being able to read a candidate quickly and correctly can determine whether you place them in the right or wrong job. I have been in the recruitment industry for many years now and in that time I have learnt it is just as, if not more, valuable to retain the relationships I have with current clients as it is to find new ones. I can claim to be better than the big multi-nationals because we have the ability to maintain a strong relationship with our clients.
I recently read an article which proved my experiences right. According to the Cross-Channel Marketing Report 70 per cent of companies say it’s cheaper to retain a customer than acquire a new one and 49 per cent said, pound for pound, they achieve better return on investment by investing in relationship marketing over acquisition marketing. Customer growth is always going to be a high priority for any business but sometimes the focus on new business can overshadow the time needed to keep current clients.
The recruitment industry is a busy place. The number of recruitment businesses operating in the UK is continually rising and that means finding new business can be time-consuming and expensive. One of the reasons why Cordant People is so successful is because we take the time to focus on customer retention as well as customer acquisition. So, why should you consider changing tact when it comes to your clients?
Increase in Profits: The primary function of any business selling a product or a service is to make money. According to Bain and Company, increasing customer retention rates by 5 per cent can help you increase profits by anywhere between 25 per cent to 95 per cent and the cost of acquiring a new client can be 4 to 10 times more than it does to keep an existing one. Simply put, customer retention can both save and make you money.
New Business: Loyal customers can also be one of the best sources of new business. People are strongly influenced by referrals from friends and family. Positive reviews on social media and websites can have a profound effect on your business. Building a strong relationship with your customers means they will have no hesitations in referring the brand to their network.
Business Expansion: Introducing a new product to the market can be hard. However, upselling to current clients can be much easier than selling to brand new ones. Your customers know you for being a respectable and trustworthy company and are therefore more likely to try your new products and services. They are also more willing to provide you with feedback on your products and your services. As well as telling you how to repeatedly earn their business and giving you insights in reaching other customers within the market.
There are extremely substantial benefits that can be gained from focusing on customer retention. Here are three very simple tips which will help you utilise them:
1: Make your clients feel valued
This is probably one of the most important tips when it comes to customer retention. Making sure your clients feel appreciated is one way to guarantee they will keep using your services. Scheduling frequent half hour phone calls to check in and keep them updated is an excellent way of making sure they feel valued. Regular face to face meetings are also a great way of keeping a relationship working. Communicating often, fully and truthfully builds trust. If a client feels they are being taken care of and are important to your company, they are more likely to continue to use your services.
2: Employee engagement
What is sometimes forgotten is that the people who have constant and direct contact with clients are your employees. Ensuring your staff are motivated within their work and have the tools to provide your customers with a quality experience can boost your retention rates dramatically. Giving your customer care team the solutions to forge connections with your customers and secure a loyal relationship is an assured way of retaining a customer. Things like allowing extra budget to create a unique marketing campaign or to send personalised gifts to clients gives staff the means to provide that extra special experience. Continually motivating staff with rewards for repeat orders and incentives to keep working hard guarantees their enthusiasm at work will be reflected in their relationship with your clients.
3: Monitor client engagement
Customer retention isn’t only about your relationship with your client, it is understanding why clients continue to use your services or don’t. Keeping track of how often a client uses your services can be a great insight into if you are about to lose them. When you start to notice anomalies and large gaps between orders make contact. Investigate why they aren’t using you as much and use their feedback to make changes to ensure either they don’t leave or you don’t make the same mistake again with another client.
These key points are valuable bits of advice for retaining customers but I can also guarantee that once these things have been established in everyday practises they will help you to gain new business.
I am not dismissing spending time on gaining new customers but customer retention is a major part to operating a successful recruitment agency and I implement these strategies in our everyday working practices. I do think these are applicable to any business that provides services or products and should be pushed higher up the priority list.