This month APSE has focused on client retention and customer satisfaction. We had the Director of Operations at Zappos come and chat with us about creating a culture client’s love. So far we have had tips to satisfy clients, updates to our media library, forms for pet sitters, and marketing reports all based on improving client retention.
The basic idea of client retention is to be there for them; be empathetic and do whatever you can for them. People have a general need to feel connected and acknowledged. So many business owners tend to focus on getting new clients rather than improving relationships with current clients. It is easier and more cost effective to focus on current clients than on getting new clients.
Here are some specific things you can do to improve customer satisfaction:
When a client signs up, ask for the dogs birthday. You can place their birthday in a separate and searchable field in your software program, but you need to remember to search for birthdays in the next week. You could also enter these birthdays into a program like Google Calendar. You’ll then receive an email, text, or pop-up to tell you it’s the dogs birthday. (You can also invite the client to the pet’s birthday & it’ll seem like they’re getting automatic reminders from you.)
Get the owner’s birthday, too! Be sure to send them a gift certificate or a thank you card on their birthday. Facebook is a great way to find people’s birthdays.
2. Let them know you
Keeping in mind business etiquette; be transparent with your clients. Tell them where you want your business to head, get their input. Tell clients how many stops you currently have. Tell them when you’re done with their house (or when you get there.) Leave them fun notes. Compliment them on their home and talk a little about yourself; it’s okay. Be human. Connect with them.
I told a client how much I loved walking their dogs, but I was sad because at some point the route would become full and an employee would have to walk their dogs. I prepared them for the transfer months before it happened. This gave me the opportunity to reassure them how I looked for staff and who my ideal walkers were. When the new walker came on board, they were already a part of the family.
3. Go Tech
There are reward and reminder apps out there for smart-phones. If a sitting client hasn’t had an appointment in a while, you can automatically remind them or give them a discount to sign up within a time limit. Check out the following apps to see if they work for your business: Cardigan, LoyalTree, or QR Rewards.
4. Answering Machine Hell
Don’t you hate calling someone and getting their voicemail? Not only do you need to listen to their long message, but you usually need to listen to the annoying ‘If you would like to leave a message, press 1’ post-voicemail announcement. Do whatever you can to have a human pick up the phone when someone calls. Studies show that consumers are happier with a call center taking a message, than having to leave a voicemail. If you need to let the call go to voicemail, change your voicemail. With many cell phones, you can hit a number (or the pound sign) and go right to the beep. Try telling people to press pound to leave a message and see if it improves over-all happiness. Whatever the case, if the client leaves a message be sure to call them back as soon as possible.
5. Good Impressions
If first and last impressions are most noticed, then the other impressions are your opportunity to further your consistent branding. Follow up with the client, via email, snailmail, phone call, (but not text) after the first meeting. Don’t be impersonal. Don’t treat them as a ‘routine’ client. Follow up to ask them how the first care visit went. Follow up after a week and then a few weeks. Make sure you are both on the same page in regards to their expectations and your services. Tell them you appreciate them and you’re excited to work with them. Leave a good impression.
6. Thank you.
Please say ‘Please & Thank you.’ Thank you. Be sure to be appreciative of your client. They don’t need to be with your company, but they are. Enough said.