If you don’t toot your own horn, don’t complain that there’s no music. — Guy Kawasaki
Maybe, when you were younger, your mom taught you it was impolite to brag.
Today I’ve got some important advice for those in professional services: Sometimes a little bragging is necessary!
Why? Because the simplest way for clients to understand the value they’re getting is for you to tell them!
You may already know it costs more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one. Loyal customers reduce your marketing costs by referring new clients for free. They are more willing to accept higher prices and terms of service that are beneficial to you.
Clearly, customer retention is absolutely necessary for your organization to Thrive — and not Just Survive. And besides providing an exceptional customer experience, consistently communicating with your clients is an essential ingredient in maintaining sustainable long-term client loyalty.
Good communication includes listening and being responsive to questions and concerns. It also includes some good old fashioned bragging — in other words, reminding your clients of the value they’re getting for the money they pay you.
Here are some reasons why bragging is a good thing for keeping clients happy.
Let’s face it. It’s really hard to differentiate yourself from other professional services firms. Whether you’re an attorney, accountant, or other professional, there’s not a lot of functional difference in the service you and your competitors provide.
Just a quick perusal of websites is all you need to see this lack of differentiation on full display. Mysteriously, almost every professional service website you visit features all the same images, all the same graphics, and all the same wording about relationships, results, integrity, blah, blah, blah. But these things are the bare minimum that customers expect — they are not really sufficient to separate you from the pack.
Too often clients think it’s easy to substitute one service professional for another. But if you make the effort to remind them about the irreplaceable value they get from you — and you do this on a consistent basis — they’ll remember why they selected you in the first place, and they’ll be more likely to keep coming back.
We all assume our clients know what we’ve done to help them save tax dollars, or restructure to improve operations, or even help them get the most value out of an acquisition or sale of a division of their company.
When you’re in a professional service firm, all the client really “sees” is the finished product.
They don’t always know what goes on behind the scenes. They don’t see the hours, days, weeks, and sometimes months of research, planning, analysis, and meticulous fine tuning of small details that separate the standouts from the forgettable me-too players.
So along with delivering the quality of service that only you can provide, give your clients a little insight on how you do what you do. That enhances the sense of value that they’re getting for doing business with you.
Why? Because your competitors aren’t doing it! At least most of them aren’t. Last year, one study found that 44% of companies emphasize customer acquisition, while only 18% emphasize client retention.
Client memories are short. Even if you’re providing rock-star service, they still have other priorities commanding their time and attention — they don’t have time to spend all day thinking about you! That’s why, on a regular basis, you must give friendly reminders of what you’re doing for them. By investing in client retention marketing — while your competitors neglect it — you’ll keep more clients from going across the street.
Now that you know the importance of reminding clients about the value you provide, it’s time to establish your own “Brag Strategy” as part of your client retention program.
Brag about the hard work you’re putting in by providing regular personal updates on the status of the work you’re doing. When appropriate, include a little of what’s going on behind the scenes to deliver the results your clients deserve.
Whether you’re doing their taxes, cleaning their carpets, or building their website, clients will appreciate the value they’re getting if they have a clear understanding of the heavy lifting that goes into your service delivery process.
The National Law Review suggests that attorneys update clients on a regular basis, even when there are no new developments in the case. Why? Because people get antsy and assume the worst when they’re out of the loop. By reminding them that you’re still on the case — even during a “lull” in activity — you’ll set your client’s mind at ease and earn their trust.
Brag about what you learn. Everybody likes getting something for free, and your free gift can be as simple as the insights you glean from the latest developments in your field.
Did you just attend a seminar on how digital technology could improve customers’ lives? Come across research findings that would be relevant? Read about market fluctuations or geopolitical developments that could impact your clients?
Author Wendy J. Cook, who provides communications services to Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) firms, suggests that volatile or down markets give advisors the chance to shine by proactively staying in touch with concerned clients. By reaching out during times of crisis, you show clients that their well-being is your priority. That goes a long way toward earning trust — and client loyalty — over the long term. Think about it this. When the Stock Market crashed in 2008 and 2009, where was your advisor? Did you hear from them or did they crawl into a rabbit hole for months on end while you agonized over the loss of your portfolio?
If you know your clients well enough, you’ll instinctively think about individuals who would be interested in a particular piece of timely information. Why not pass it along — while offering helpful advice on how they could respond to emerging challenges and opportunities?
Newsletters, blogs, and social media are excellent tools for delivering helpful information to your clients on a regular basis.
Consultant Bruce DeLoatch, known as “The Cleaning Coach,” encourages carpet cleaners to publish a regular newsletter, either online or offline, as a way to stay top-of-mind with clients and to share useful tips.
According to DeLoatch, newsletters should be educational and entertaining, not “salesy.” You should publish them on a regular basis — weekly or monthly — so clients know when to look forward to hearing from you.
Like newsletters, publishing a regular blog highlighting important topics pertaining to your industry is another great way to earn a reputation as a trusted expert.
But what about content you need to send outside of your regular blog or newsletter? That’s where personalized emails and social media can help. If your clients are using social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, posting newsworthy updates about your company or industry will keep them from forgetting about you.
Newsletters, blogs, and social media are one thing, but getting on stage and sharing what you know and educating your audience will set you apart from the competition.
When you decided to become a lawyer, accountant or architect did you think that speech class you were required to take in college would come in handy? Trust me, very few people in professional services firms enjoy the thought of giving a presentation. In fact many avoid it as they have convinced themselves it brings no value to their practice.
I had a partner in my firm who became one of the most famous people in his industry. There was no question others in the profession were as smart as he was, but what set him apart was people knew who he was. He never passed up a speaking opportunity and he was always the first one to seek out speaking opportunities with organization where he could share his expertise. And on top of that, when he attended regular industry association meetings, he strategically sat in the same place during the meeting and in the bar after the meeting year after year after year. Before long, everyone knew him by name and he became one of the most recognizable figures in the room.
You’ve put in a lot of time and effort over many years — perhaps decades — to get to where you are today. Each day, you go the extra mile so that your clients and colleagues can Thrive and not Just Survive.
So let your expertise shine — both in providing exceptional service and in communicating about it with clients.
And if mom is still concerned that you’re bragging just a little too much, here’s one more quote you can share:
It ain’t bragging if you can do it! — Dizzy Dean
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