In my latest video, I break down how swimming teaches us the importance of these relationship-building efforts and the specifics of what we as leaders need to nurture with our teams.
In an effort to simplify the decision-making process, we're sharing some of the trends we've seen with gifting over the years. We're even sharing our best seller and why that gift had such success.
Last year we had the opportunity to work with one of our clients in the travel and tourism space to design an experience that delivered their highest engagement yet.
When you deliver an ongoing service for your clients, you typically have regular communication with them. Often, you’re reporting on deliverables, meeting with them about project updates, or maybe even touching base with their leaders for feedback. It’s easy to feel like you’ve got relationship building covered when you’re in such constant contact with people and you’re meeting all your deliverables and metrics. But being good at the work you do, being an expert in your field, and even delivering a successful product, aren’t always enough to retain clients these days.
In today’s world, customers expect more in exchange for their business loyalty. They know that they have plenty of options and just because they’re happy with your work doesn’t mean they’ll be loyal if they end up feeling a better connection with another organization.
In my latest conversation with agency leaders about the successes and challenges they face when it comes to relationship building, my guest talked about their plans to up level their customer experience. Just like many of the organizations I’ve spoken with, Energy Circle (https://www.energycircle.com/) recognized that growth comes with a continued requirement to evaluate how you show up for your clients and take the actions necessary to continue to deliver best-in-class experiences.
I met Emily Ambrose during an Agency Management Institute (https://agencymanagementinstitute.com) training event. She is the Director of Strategic Growth and Culture at Energy Circle, a boutique digital marketing agency that serves the better building sector.
When we met for our interview, I asked Emily about their processes for nurturing their various relationships. What jumped out was the work they are undertaking to revamp how they nurture existing clients for the long term. She shared that today, they are really good at open communication, reporting, following up and all the basics of good service. She said that they have been working on a “big undertaking of getting all the different steps plotted out for a holistic client experience”. This new plan will include “more deliverables, more assets, gifts, and celebratory touch points”.
This upgrade in Energy Circle’s relationship building efforts will create long-term emotional loyalty with clients that took a long time to convert in the first place. Emily shared that oftentimes it can take years for clients in their market to make a decision to move forward with service. Retention is rightfully a very important metric and the plans being created today will set them up for success
Retention is obviously one of those metrics that is important for all businesses. In fact, a collection of research from Forbes shows that taking the time to create emotional loyalty is well worth your investment. Here are a few highlights that showcase how valuable it is to go above and beyond delivering great service.
Companies who have done the work to create an emotional connection with their customers have outperformed the sales of their competitors by 85%.
83% of surveyed companies who believe in the importance of making customers happy say they experience revenue growth.
Customers who have positive experiences are likely to spend 140% more than those with negative experiences.
One could argue that delivering a project on time, on budget, and all the things you promised in your contract, will make a customer happy and create a positive experience. Yes, this is true. But once that deliverable is complete and you move to the next, is their lasting positive association at an emotional level? Emotional loyalty is developed when a person becomes loyal to working with you because they absolutely love it. This is where you start to see loyalty that drives additional business, long term retention, and referrals.
The big question becomes – How do you develop a practice of providing experiences that deliver that kind of emotional connectivity? Chances are, you probably have most of the components for creating that up leveled client nurturing plan, you just need to pull it all together. It comes down to showing up for clients outside of the pure deliverables of your service. You want to be intentional in touching base with them (physically or digitally) at more of a human level. Below we’ve laid out a sample plan that you can work with to increase your own client loyalty.
Step one: Decide how many touch points do you need to create that emotional connection?
Your efforts can range from starting with one occasion to a complete system. For existing clients, we always recommend at least 2 per year.
Step two: Decide which occasions/reasons you will use to create an engaging touch point with your client.
Welcome to doing business together
Anniversary of working together
Achievement of goal or milestone in your project/work
Personal goal or milestone they are working toward (see getting to know you blog)
Holiday – Including any social holidays that seem appropriate
Step three: Design an experience that leaves them feeling appreciated, seen, motivated or inspired.
The key here is that what you’re really doing is giving a story, not just a gift or mailing. You want the item to tell a story or connect to a relevant theme. The gift itself doesn’t have to be elaborate or lasting if the message is doing the heavy lifting of creating that connection. Here's an example:
Relationship Category: Existing Clients
Occasion: Anniversary of Doing Business Together
Theme: Sweet Celebration
Message: Happy "x" years of doing business together! We're so grateful for the opportunity to spend another year alongside you watching as you accomplish your goals. As a token of our appreciation, we’ve enclosed a treat for you to enjoy while you reflect on the sweet success you’ve accomplished this past year. We can’t wait to see where the next one takes you.
With a message like the one above, you’re showing them that you see how hard they’ve been working, how far they’ve come and how much has been accomplished. You’re also inviting them to take time to reflect on that and be proud while then setting up the motivation for the year ahead. You’re firing them up to think that if they’ve already accomplished this much, get excited about all you’ll accomplish together in the next year! That’s the kind of lasting and inspiring message that creates an emotional connection.
The key message here is, don’t take your existing clients for granted. You might deliver phenomenal results, but if you don’t have much of an emotional connection with them, there’s a risk of them finding another service provider. Emily shared with us, “we have a pretty standard set of metrics and benchmarks with the work we do.” They want to move to finding “when there’s a celebration worth having or a noteworthy accomplishment, like a milestone or success. When they break a revenue milestone or a digital marketing win.” Celebrating a client's success puts you at a personal level, showing that you understand what’s important to them and that you see them doing big things. These are the touch points that make an impact.
It’s time to start building deeper relationships.
Every day we get to help business leaders design a strategic approach to building longer lasting relationships with existing clients. Let's get to know each other and find out if The Expressory can help you uplevel your client experiences. Click here to set up a Marketing Strategy Session or click here to download our free guide for Creating Emotional Loyalty by Design. Let us show you how to design a unique experience that sets you apart.