I am an Irish girl. I always feel loyal to my country even though I consider myself a woman of the world, having travelled and lived in different countries.
You probably guessed my nationality by the image I used in my post. Yes, it’s coming up to St. Patrick’s Day and it’s days like these that I feel exceptionally loyal to my home country. I also feel very proud!
It got me thinking about the parallels between our feelings towards where we come from (or simply born) and our feelings towards the businesses we create and love so well.
Develop a loyal client base
I know for myself, when I began my journey of virtual assistance, I was completely invested in developing my small business that would provide the work-life integration I so desperately need in my life.
I also know when I began, I was loyal to everyone – every person I came into contact with, I felt the urge to connect and deliver. I was flitting around trying to grab contacts, prospects, peers, colleagues, anyone that would help me on my journey. I had a lot to learn!
As I made progress with my business, I became more choosy about who I connected with, spoke with, and devoted my precious time to. This was a big learning curve for me, and I had a lot to learn!
Thankfully, I grew my business and am currently in a position to not only actively seek my ideal client type but also attract them. Things are falling into place to help my message, consistency, and client attraction. It’s not easy putting these practices into place, but once you get there, it frees your business of unnecessary clutter and baggage, especially the oversized kind!
Be loyal to your business
Firstly you must be loyal to your vision for your business, and its growth. We invest so much emotional and mental energy into our small business, it’s not worth going against the grain and trying to work with clients you KNOW that don’t share your values.
Secondly, you must know what type of client you work with best. If like me, you don’t have a specific niche (I work equally well with Coaches, Marketers, and Web Developers) then you must at least know your favourite client type – the one who does and acts like X, Y, and Z and it resonates with you and your business model.
“There is a big difference between a satisfied customer and a loyal customer”Shep Hyken
So the next step is to understand where you may be disloyal to your clients without actually realising it.
Let’s look at the 5 sure signs that this may be the case, and then I’ll share with you how to fix this, and not only be fully loyal to your customers but they are loyal to you also!
5 signs you are not loyal to your clients
To be loyal to your clients, you have to actually LIKE them AND the work you do with them! But it’s tough running a business, prospecting, AND doing the actual paid work. The ANSWER to this is outlined below, once we figure out how you could be neglecting your clients:
Shiny Object Syndrome! Oh boy! When I learned this was threatening my business, I quickly put a stop to it. I realised I was signing up for EVERY webinar, EVERY masterclass. I was spending more time on webinars than working on my client-building strategy (more on this later).
Stalker! Yes, I was stalking people who were announcing they needed help with their social media or looking for a virtual assistant. I also put a stop to chasing every possible ‘gig’ on the Internet, trawling FB groups, LI groups seeking out those looking for a “superstar VA” (why do they always want superstars?)
#2 Train hopping
Unless you have a strategy in place, you will find yourself working for any paying client. Whether you are a Coach, Web Developer, or Copywriter, it can become like a game of cat and mouse. Add in fast-moving trains at the platforms, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Hopping from one client to another is exhausting! However, the bigger problem here is that you are not giving each of your clients 100%, flitting back and forth, doing the hustle, doing the prospecting, worrying about your next gig, chasing the money, chasing the money. As I said, exhausting!
#3 You’ve compromised on your destination
So your initial consultation/discovery call didn’t go too well? Your potential client finds you a ‘bit’ expensive? Or they don’t want to pay upfront, or pay a deposit? But they still want to work with you, so you compromise and sign them up anyway. Then you chase the money. Again! Your client is never happy, or they go MIA (missing in action.)
Why is this happening? Compromise! You’ve compromised your personal values AND your business values. No matter how much you try and make it work, it will cost you more than letting that client be better served by someone else. Why? Because they never were your client. Neither you nor your client was invested in the relationship enough to make it work.
#4 You hop off before your stop
My BIGGEST bugbear!!!
Why oh why, do VAs, web developers, designers, writers, (add any service provider here) go MIA?
All that trouble to onboard a client – the prospecting, the writing of proposals, quotes, emails, the Skyping, the follow-up, the hand-wringing. Then the actual onboarding – preparing of contract, invoicing, getting paid, setting up workflows – it takes TIME.
And then the work itself – the paid work! The energy, the time, the effort, the investment. Job done! You run off to the next client – you hop off that train before it’s even stopped at the platform. Or worse still, you get off at the station before.
This is a sure sign you have on-boarded the wrong type of client for your business. You are not invested in this client. You leave them hanging at the eleventh hour. Because you’ve lost interest, you’ve not completed the process enough that your client feels satisfied, honoured, and appreciated.
No after-service? No follow-up? No thank-you? No invite for feedback? No request for a referral or testimonial? Oh please!
#5 You’ve traded your CRM for MIA
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a lot more than simply filling in their details in a CRM tool! It’s as it says on the tin – managing your relationship with your customer. They are not a number to be funnelled through your sales funnel. CRM includes high-quality Customer EXPERIENCE (CX) as well as Customer Service (CS). If your CX is not up to scratch, then your CX becomes your EX. That’s worth quoting:
If your CX is not up to scratch, then your CX becomes your EX!
How to be loyal to your clients
Develop an authentic and “positive experience” Client Onboarding Strategy AND a Customer Experience Strategy.
#1 Understand and connect with your customer
If you are starting out in your business, you may not yet know your customer. You may not know your ideal client. But you DO know what you enjoy doing, who you enjoy working with, and what excites you about your work. Use this information to build a persona of the type of business you can do business with. Ask your audiences, ask your clients, and ask your peers for their input also.
#2 Create a pathway
Ensure your client receives the experience you envisage for your business. This is done by mapping out how you would like the experience to go. You know what already works for your existing ideal clients – so use that and build out a happy, satisfying pathway especially for your loyal client – they will be satisfied, grateful, and WILL reward you for that energy.
#3 Learn what works
As a new service provider, it’s a big ask to expect you to know exactly who your ideal client is. To make out the Business and Marketing plan, create your sales funnel and marketing strategy, target your perfect client. It’s daunting when you are alone in your business, and trying to figure it all out, despite hiring the experts to help you out.
As you build your client base, never avoid the opportunity to learn what works for your business. Ask your clients – what they enjoy about working with you, and what could be improved.
Ask them “would you recommend my services to a close friend, and if so what would you SAY to that friend?” This changes the language your client uses and they tap into the emotions connected with their relationship with you. This provides real feedback and makes for superstar testimonials 😀.
Loyal clients make you money
Loyal clients not only save your business money, but they MAKE your business money. How, you ask? They cut down on the hustle, they provide referrals (as in, TOP QUALITY, VALUES-MATCHING referrals) and they work with you – again!
So stop trainspotting and train hopping. Slow down, take stock, and ensure you are looking after the important clients in your business – your current, paying clients!
Remember that clients walk with their feet. If your clients are not loyal to you, they either don’t experience positive CX, or they are not your ideal client at all, and you were hopping on the wrong train!
Get on the right train, and get off at the right stop!
What do you do to ensure good CX?