Does your firm have customers or clients? Customers buy a service once; clients have established a long-term relationship. Maintaining client relationships is the easiest way to win work. Think about the ease of selling existing services to an existing or past client versus selling new services to a new client. You’ll devote less time and energy with existing or past clients.

Here are four tips for turning customers into clients.

Create a culture of client service. First, take stock of your firm's culture of client service. How do you rate in terms of accessibility, responsiveness, follow-through, attention, and recovery? Interviewing your clients and asking their opinions on where you stand in each of these areas is a great starting point too. We have learned over the years there are 15 solid reasons clients leave firms they’ve built long-term working relationships with.

Assign Client Care Managers. Technical pros, this is you. We suggest assigning a primary and secondary contact to oversee what’s happening with your clients and create a Client Care Program for review. 

Measure and evaluate client satisfaction. Do you know how your clients feel about your firm? Ask them – and then follow up! Have someone not associated with your projects, like a marketing team member or outside consultant, meet with clients personally throughout the life of a project. By building this into your project processes, you will learn what frustrates your clients and what pleases them. From that, you will be able to tailor your service to build a stronger, more successful working relationship together. We recommend every five years conducting an in-depth client perception survey where a pool of representative clients is interviewed to develop a benchmark of your firm’s performance. Then you can build a client satisfaction program that will provide metrics on which you can base your firm’s overall performance.

Keep your client information up to date. Does your firm scramble every holiday season or whenever you want to send an e-blast because you haven’t maintained your company’s database? As they say, garbage in, garbage out. One of the basic and most important – yet most often overlooked – marketing tool is the maintenance of the firm database. Whether you are using an Excel spreadsheet or a CRM like Cosential or Deltek, having a current database at all times is critical to your firm’s success. Not only is it important to track current and potential clients, it’s also important to keep track of your fellow colleagues for potential recruiting. Your firm’s database is the lifeblood of your firm – investing in it will only benefit you in your marketing and recruiting efforts.

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