Many organisations put a huge amount of effort, investment and training into getting new clients, and comparatively little into ensuring that they keep the clients they already have. Fee winners are heroes, fee keepers less so. And yet there’s no shock quite as unpleasant as the shock of losing a client you thought was secure.
How does this happen? Of course some churn is inevitable: companies are taken over, merge and go out of business. Sometimes customers and suppliers grow at different rates – they grow apart. But often client losses happen through communication failure and lack of care.
Our recipe for keeping client relationships healthy and productive:
- Start with clarity about what’s expected and promised by both sides.
- Deliver on your promises.
- Check regularly how your client is feeling about you, your work and your relationship. This is separate from talking about deliverables. You’re asking about the state of the relationship and the prospects for the future.
Skilled and experienced relationship managers will be able to get this high level feedback for themselves, but doing it well is a challenge. Many organisations prefer to involve someone else – internal or external – to gather this crucial feedback and protect their client relationships for the future.