Like most agencies, you want to build long-lasting client relationships. After all, retaining clients means having a steady revenue stream for your business. Lasting client relationships simplify forecasting income, making informed decisions, and scaling your team to meet your anticipated demand.
Data shows that 81% of companies that maintain thorough records of their client interactions manage to outperform their competitors, highlighting one of the biggest benefits of having long-standing client relationships. The challenge is that retaining clients and establishing long-term relationships with them is a tough nut to crack.
You need to do more than learn how to create a business website and showcase your services’ benefits to clients to get them to stick with your agency.
Continue reading more about five tips to help your agency build long-lasting client relationships.
1. Provide clients with access to game-changing tech
If your agency primarily serves the small businesses secor, then it’s important to remember that one of your clients’ biggest challenges is to navigate the wide and often complex array of technology available.
Companies just starting their businesses, or those seeking to deepen their digital transformation over time, can find it tough to choose which tools and apps best fit their needs. They need the direction of someone they can trust and who knows what they’re doing to invest in the right tech.
As an agency, you can do much more than suggest third-party tools for your small-to-medium business (SMB) clients. You can offer your own cutting-edge solutions by becoming a vcita partner.
A platform that knows the small business segment well, vcita can help expand your agency’s offering via co-branded tech and features that help SMBs grow and succeed. The app features tools to help clients manage their finances, marketing, and calendars in one intuitive and easy-to-use platform.
vcita’s technology includes:
- Plug and play and custom integrations via vcita’s detailed documentation, public APIs and custom integrations.
- Easy reporting and management tools to monitor account performance and adoption metrics through a partner portal and real-time dashboards.
vcita’s custom branding options can help keep your brand visible across the platform. Your clients see your agency’s logo and other branding elements all day long as they manage their accounts receivable, contacts, and appointments.
This way, your clients see your co-branded app as something central to their daily operations and even revenue streams. Also, sprinkling your brand across the app helps keep your agency’s value top of mind, which is always good for client relations.
Partnering with vcita can give your agency recurring subscription revenue while providing your clients with useful tools to run their businesses smoothly. You’ll also get better visibility into your clients’ business health, allowing you to adjust your services accordingly to give them the most value.
2. Treat clients as partners
If you want to earn your clients’ business loyalty for the long term, your agency must go beyond having a transactional relationship with them. The key is to treat your clients like partners.
A partner relationship with your clients allows for a healthy mix of purposeful, transactional, and personal interactions. It helps preserve your agency’s and client’s identities while helping you work together and contribute to each other’s success.
Learn from these tips to maintain a partner relationship with your clients.
- Stay honest. Be honest with your clients, but keep everything professional. Give pushback when necessary, especially when dealing with client requests and desires that might not be best for achieving long-term success, or those which you aren’t confident you can deliver. Remember that a good partnership isn’t about both parties always agreeing on everything. Instead, it’s about two parties bringing different and sometimes opposing views and objectives to the table to develop a better approach and get the best output.
- Maintain structure but allow fluidity. Ensure your deliverables are clear and stick to the timeline and plan (as much as possible). However, always leave room for input and feedback.
- Give clients the necessary but limited access to internal tools and processes. Some of your agency’s processes and tools might be proprietary and confidential. However, it’s a good idea to provide clients access to data and dashboards when possible. Share non-confidential tidbits that not everyone outside your agency knows. It’s one way of building trust with clients. Consistently re-earning your clients; trust increases their chances of sticking with your agency.
3. Gather ongoing feedback from clients
Eliminate guesswork and find out whether your clients are satisfied with your agency’s services. Go directly to the source by asking your clients for feedback. Establish an efficient process to ask clients for feedback to help assess your agency’s performance, client satisfaction, and areas for improvement.
Doing so helps your agency improve your service’s quality, including your client relationships. It also demonstrates your agency’s commitment to providing positive client experiences, and it gives you opportunities to right the ship before things start to go irreparable sour.
Many business-to-consumer (B2C) and software communities use Net Promoter Score (NPS), a customer satisfaction metric measured on a one to ten-point scale. Using tools such as Retently, a customer experience management platform for business-to-business (B2B) companies, allows agencies to automate tasks, such as setting up internal notifications to ensure that the appropriate team is notified or sending follow-up messages with at-risk accounts.
It can help you capture valuable client data while sparking conversations about how your agency can better serve your clients.
You can set up a similar process to NPS tracking or another feedback cycle for your agency.
For instance, use the Ask, Categorize, Act, and Follow-up (A.C.A.F.) feedback loop system to gather and leverage client feedback systemically.
- Ask clients for feedback on your agency’s services.
- Categorize the feedback into various buckets meaningful to your agency.
- Act on the feedback by sharing it with team members within your agency who can implement changes.
- Follow up with clients who give feedback, so they know you listen and value their input.
4. Provide a wider service offering
Try not to be too narrowly focused on your niche and instead offer a wider array of services that dovetail with your core. If you offer on-page SEO, for example, then offering off-page SEO might make sense too. If you design lead capture landing pages, then consider offering A/B testing experiments, paid ads to drive traffic to these squeeze pages, or even lead nurture services.
Your clients are likely busy and would generally prefer to consolidate service providers, instead of farming everything out to different parties, all of whom require managing. Just keep in mind that it isn’t necessarily practical or possible for your agency to scale up and hire specialists and gather resources for all areas of expertise.
A more cost-efficient and workable approach is to hire freelancers or to partner with others. But no matter how you pull it off, make sure to tackle service diversification incrementally.
As author and strategy consultant Dorie Clark recently told Drew McLellan on the Agency Management Institute podcast, “In developing new income streams, more is not better. You’re not going to develop ten new income streams this year. Choose one to focus on. When that is up and running, then think about the next one.”
To do it well, Clark advises, agency leaders have “Two questions to ask: one, what adjacent services can we offer existing clients, and two, who else might be interested in your services that you currently are not working with?”
Start by understanding where your clients might need further work, including what they might be willing to pay. Then, hire freelancers who can complete the work to a high-quality and level of polish while allowing your agency a profit margin.
Providing a one-stop shop of some sort encourages clients to stick with your agency, since eventually, you’ll offer almost everything they need.
5. Optimize your onboarding process for long-term success
A seamless onboarding process facilitates clear client communication and cultivates a deeper understanding of your client’s objectives. This empowers you to get better aligned when it comes to outcome expectations. It also allows you to customize your mix of tactics in a manner that is most likely to please the client over time, mixing short-term wins with longer-term ones.
Your client onboarding process can include the following:
- Send clients a welcome kit containing greeting cards, branded swag, and other goodies based on the personal information you gathered from your clients.
- Ensure your team members and clients have access and permissions to accounts, dashboards, and tools.
- Run a kickoff meeting so everything is lined up for execution. It can also be an opportunity to establish a more relaxed and informal atmosphere to help further your client relationships.
To make sure you’re organized with all the ins and outs involved with onboarding, you can leverage Process.st, a process and workflow management tool. This allows you to streamline your client onboarding while making your team’s recurring work more efficient.
The tool’s onboarding templates let you quickly create actionable, no-code onboarding workflows, many aspects of which can even be automated.
You can also use the simple drag-and-drop editor to document onboarding tasks and build onboarding templates and standardized processes to accelerate your work.
Get a steady revenue stream via long term client relationships
Long-lasting client relationships can reduce your agency’s financial woes and get you a more sustainable income flow.
Be strategic and think outside the box to build long-term client relationships.
Expand your horizons (and profits) by going beyond your agency’s current offerings and finding other ways to provide your clients’ needs and exceed their expectations.