The client is our boss. When they leave, they’re basically firing us and hiring someone else to replace us. Just as you care about not losing your job, you also need to analyse why the client stopped working with you and whether that could have been prevented.
An exaggerated comparison, you might say. After all, we have only one job, but many clients - and more keep coming. However, regular clients are the foundation of a stable business.
Retaining clients is important, because:
- regular clients are more profitable - improving client retention by 5% leads to a 25% to 95% increase in net assets (depending on the industry),
- regular clients buy more and more often (according to the recency - frequency - monetary model) ,
- new clients drive growth but generate costs. Acquiring a client is 5 to 25 times more expensive than keeping an old one ,
- a loyal client consciously chooses and recommends the company’s products, and even tolerates mistakes.
It’s worth realising that client retention doesn’t require extraordinary effort. Most clients who have left would tell you that they would have stayed if the salesperson had only reacted to their dissatisfaction.
Why do clients leave?
A study by Bain & Co. showed that 80% of companies believe they deliver the highest possible value to their clients. However, only 8% of clients agreed. This large gap is quite puzzling. After all, companies are run by smart people who know that client satisfaction is key. Satisfaction surveys may be to blame.
Imagine a situation where a salesperson closes the sale and the company completes the order as agreed. Then, the client gives the company five stars on the satisfaction survey. The even order again, but then they disappear. According to the survey, they’re still satisfied. If there are more such clients, the survey results may still be high, yet clients are leaving.
Why? Because satisfaction and loyalty aren’t the same thing. A satisfied client got what they paid for and there’s no reason to complain. The loyal client is a level higher. They’re a partner that wants to buy from you and to recommend you to others. If they don’t come back and don’t advocate for you, there never was any loyalty. The client satisfaction survey only lulled you into a false sense of security.
What can weaken loyalty and make clients leave?
- The most common reason is dishonesty. Broken promises and lying (especially deliberately) destroy trust.
- Unresponsive salespeople - especially when the client has an important issue. Not answering the phone or responding to e-mails. When a client needs information right away, yet the salesperson wastes time making sure their response is absolutely perfect, they’ve failed to understand the client’s needs.
- Long waits and complicated procedures. It’s not a coincidence that orders usually go to one of the three companies that respond to an inquiry the fastest.
- Delayed deliveries and supply problems that affect the client’s work and even reduce their competitiveness. Even worse when the salesperson waits until the very last minute to inform the client about any problems, in which case they will look for a more secure alternative.
- Deteriorating product quality over time, or reserving the best offers for new clients only. Mobile phone providers used to be a typical example. Clients quickly realised that in order to get a better deal, they just had to cancel their existing contract.
Client loyalty is born of salesperson loyalty - that is, companies get what they give.