Dialing in The Three R’s of Growth: Retention, Referrals and Reviews Guest Author Whether you’re a small company with big dreams or an enterprise with a well-established brand, every client interaction is an opportunity to grow your business. You’re likely already using Hatchbuck’s market-leading sales and marketing tools to maximize every touch with your prospects. The purpose of this post is to ensure that your company is positioned to maximize growth from your existing client base by managing the three R’s: Retention, Referrals and Reviews Retention is key. You’ve probably heard the maxim that it costs five times as much to land a new client as it does to keep one. We think retention is even more important than that statistic suggests. Gartner research suggests that more than 81% of marketers think that their companies will complete mostly or completely on the basis of customer experience. Retention is a key barometer for customer experience so let’s break down the steps for retention. Customer experience is inherently subjective. So, to understand how we’re doing, we want to actively and consistently quantify how our customers perceive our service. Surveys, suggestion boxes and follow-up calls are all valid options. We recommend tailoring the follow-up process based on the value and volume of your business. For example, if you have a small number of high-value clients, personally following up with all of your clients might make sense. If you run a high-volume, low-cost business then email surveys might suffice. Once you have settled on a method, pair it with a quantifiable scale such as Net Promoter Score or a Smiley-face feedback tool. This will allow you to monitor how your service trends over time. And of course, you can always add qualitative questions such as “What can we do to improve?” to your surveys. Remember: a bit part of customer service is reminding your customers know that you care about them. Asking them for feedback sends that signal. Referral is king. At Liscio, we run a poll several times a year asking professional service firms how they acquire new clients. Each time, the number one answer is referrals, or word of mouth. When it comes to lead quality, referrals reign supreme because they come with trust baked in. But you can’t increase referrals without a good client experience (CX), and that includes an earnest commitment to customer service. (See our blog post “How to build a better client experience.”) Train your teams to ask for referrals. For example, every time you receive positive feedback, the immediate trigger might be to say something along the lines of “the highest compliment you can pay us is to recommend us to a friend (and then ask for the friend’s name and contact information).” Reviews really matter. Online reviews have changed everything. The new formula is simple — the highest-rated businesses get the most business. And online reviews are right behind referrals for influence and trustworthiness. 84% trust online reviews as much as they trust a referral from a friend.91% of prospects read online reviews before making a purchasing decision.— Bloem, C. “84 Percent of People Trust…” Inc., July 2017 Good places to be highly reviewed: YelpGoogle My Business (“Get reviews on Google”)Industry-specific review sites (run a search for your profession and see which review sites are in the top 10) Just like with referrals, don’t hesitate to ask for an online review. If a client pays you a compliment in person, over the phone, or in chat, ask them to put that compliment online in a written review. A genuine, glowing review from a trusted influencer or firm of similar profile is way cheaper and can be just as effective as a TV spot. And don’t collapse when you get a bad review. Bad reviews are a great opportunity to show off the quality and responsiveness of your customer service. A prompt, thoughtful, and empathetic reply to a negative review can be just as influential as a positive review. Give potential customers a feel-good preview of how you would treat their complaints. Good companies focus on delivering great service. Great companies deliver a great service and get extra credit for it. Leveraging the three R’s ensures that your firm will get rewarded too. Author Bio Chris Farrell is co-founder and CEO of Liscio. He’s a seasoned technology executive with more than 20 years of leadership experience in finance and accounting. Chris served as the CEO of Nexonia, Inc., the parent company of the Nexonia, Tallie, ExpenseWatch, and SpringAhead brands. His experience as a founder of Tallie and SpringAhead gives Liscio a proven leader with a successful track record scaling up startup technology platforms for professional services. Chris earned his CPA in the heart of Silicon Valley at Arthur Andersen in 1996 and his MBA at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management in 2004.