Your relationship with a new customer usually starts off with you both being aligned on goals, side-by-side on this new journey. However, over time, you will tend to drift apart. This can occur for a number of reasons, but almost all those reasons are centered around one thing- change. People and their roles can change, and so can business structures and leadership. That’s why aligning company to company is so important.
Thoughtful and proactive interaction is important to managing that change and ensuring the distance between you and your customer does not continue to grow. Otherwise, the value you provide could easily diminish, or at least be perceived to diminish.
The long-term success of your business is predicated on your ability to retain customers and prevent churn. When you think of churn, remember that it is not just the lost recurring revenue to consider, but also the loss of resources that were spent to acquire, onboard and maintain that customer, not to mention any extra effort put in to try and save that business relationship. It is critically important that customers stick around for as long as possible, and the way to make that happen is to be proactive in maintaining a successful business relationship. Remember that the definition of success will vary between customers, so you must be attuned with each of your customers’ definitions of success.
Too often, companies don’t catch on to a customer’s intention to cancel their service with you until it’s too late. Here are some signs to keep an eye on. If you see any of these it might be time to flag that account and pay attention to what’s going on and identify opportunities for you to right the ship before it’s too late.
- Decrease in usage, inactivity after the start of service, or low rate of adoption
- Guide your client through the implementation phase and also find creative ways to reinforce your value proposition (grand openings, promotions and giveaways)
- The transition of your key contact or changes in leadership
- If your internal advocate moves on from the company or takes on a new role, you’ll want to make sure there is documentation and a clear outline of why your service was chosen to begin with. Offer to meet with the new person in the role, and train and educate them on how the relationship works.
- Request the chance to present the value of your service to the new leadership. Reinforce benefits you provide to the people in that organization
- Performance issues
- Pay attention is a certain one of your locations is generating a high number of complaints or service requests. That might mean you are missing the mark somewhere and need to step up your service in order to maintain the relationship.
- Lack of Communication
- When customers stop returning calls, reschedule meetings, and you send emails with no response, these are all key signs that something could be amiss. Time to have a pulse check and evaluate where you stand.
It’s important to be proactive in monitoring the health of your customers. The more you understand your customers and their business needs, and how they are currently using and benefiting from your service, the more likely you’ll be able to quickly address any of their concerns or make necessary course corrections when things aren’t going smoothly.
You should ‘check-in’ to make sure they are happy with how things are going. You can also communicate regularly via email to update them on new features or changes. Offering webinars or dedicated resources can make customers feel like they are really getting the most out of their relationship with you. Help them share the value of your service with the rest of their company.
Remember that perception of value sometimes goes down as the novelty of a ‘new thing’ wears off. Stay connected and build a solid relationship, not just by person to person, but also company to company. Sometimes that value begins to be taken for granted, and it is up to you to make sure that doesn’t result in you and your customer drifting away from each other.