C-Suite Advisory

How to Revamp Client Onboarding and Retention Going Into 2022

Rhett Power

Though Q4 is often synonymous with lower sales and revenue prospects, it’s still a crucial time for setting up the business for success in the new year. While year-end business is slower, take some time to tune up your customer loyalty efforts.

The fourth quarter is infamous for slow sales and decreased revenue. Even the giants can slow down in the last few months of the year.

But don’t let slow business discourage you. The fourth quarter is still an important time to set the stage for the coming year. Even if you miss your sales goals for the end of 2021, you can still take steps to set 2022 up for success and start out the new year on a positive note.

As the year winds down and business might be slower, spend some extra time thinking about your customers. Revamp customer onboarding and retention with these steps:

  1. Improve your warm welcome.
    A good first impression goes a long way, and your onboarding process is essentially your first opportunity to impress your client. Make it an excellent experience, and you’ll be more likely to keep new clients on for the long haul — which is key to success. In financial services, for example, increasing customer retention by just 5% can boost profits by more than 25%. Businesses in any industry can see similar success from improving onboarding.

    So think carefully about what happens when you make a sale. Focus on making the logistics of onboarding as easy as possible. Contracts shouldn’t be dense or confusing, and new clients should be able to sign them easily with a digital signing tool. Make sure any other necessary paperwork is clearly labeled and that clients have simple instructions on how to complete it.

    From there, ensure smooth communication by asking new clients how they prefer to talk with your team — email, Slack, videoconferencing, phone, or something else? Summarize your findings in an introductory meeting as well to show clients you’re listening and dedicated to delivering value.

  2. Trade discounts for loyalty.
    The longer your clients stay with you, the more they’ll spend. How do you keep them from the siren’s song of your disruptive competitor? One tried-and-true method is through loyalty discounts. Tzu & Co.’s reporting showed that top businesses shared a common thread: They rewarded loyalty and successfully avoided losing ground to larger organizations with irresistible offerings like lower prices than regular customers could snag.

    Of course, you get to design your customer loyalty program to fit what you sell. Get creative and don’t forget that many customers will hand over first-party information in exchange for being in an exclusive group. That means you could boost your first-quarter sales while amassing a wealth of marketing data about who’s devoted to your brand.

  3. Be an expert voice of reason.
    Believe it or not, the customer is not always right. As you go into the new year, remind yourself and your employees that they’re the experts in the service you’re providing. If a client thinks they want something that doesn’t align with their objectives, telling them so is how you can provide truly great service.

    For example, Chris Cardinal, a founding principal of app consultancy Synapse Studios, wrote about how his business turned down a client request that would have brought Synapse sizable revenue. But the project simply wouldn’t have been in the best interest of the client, and turning it down was an exercise in building trust.

    Cardinal explains how this works: “One way you can drive value for your clients is by digging deeper to understand their true needs. When you ask your clients why they want to do something, their first response might only be a symptom of a larger issue. By asking more questions, you might find they’re trying to solve an entirely different problem than the one they hired you for.”

    So are you just giving your customers whatever they ask for? Or are you personalizing their journey by making sure you’re doing everything you can to help them meet their goals? Your answer could mean all the difference in your balance sheet come January.

  4. Stay in touch.
    As growth tends to slow in the fourth quarter, so does communication. It’s natural for clients to seem more distant and slower to respond in the later months of the year, but you can still keep the lines of communication open and stay present for them by sending out regular updates. That way, when things pick back up in January, you’ll be top of mind.

    Just how many touchpoints you initiate before the new year rolls around is up to you. It may be worth considering your industry, as financial advisors do when creating communication touchpoint maps. Some financial management professionals allow weeks, months, or full quarters to pass between communications. However, that model might not work for your sector or brand.

    You shouldn’t inundate clients or make them feel like you’re hounding them for a response. Nevertheless, reminding them that you haven’t fallen off the planet is never a bad idea. Yes, they might be deep in family obligations and corporate celebrations at the moment. However, they’ll be back to business after all the festivities are over and ready to reconnect,

Seeing your numbers dip as you move closer toward December might not feel comforting. It’s not the end of the world, though — just the end of another 12 months. Use the extra time in the fourth quarter to focus on customers and set 2022 up for success.

Written by Rhett Power.

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Rhett Power
Rhett Power is responsible for helping corporate leadership take the actions needed to drive impact and courage in their teams that will improve organizational performance. He is the author of The Entrepreneur’s Book of Actions: Essential Daily Exercises and Habits for Becoming Wealthier, Smarter, and More Successful (McGraw-Hill Education) and co-founder of Wild Creations, an award-winning start-up toy company. After a successful exit from the toy company, Rhett was named the best Small Business Coach in the United States. In 2019 he joined the prestigious Marshall Goldsmith's 100 Coaches and was named the #1 Thought Leader on Entrepreneurship by Thinkers360. He is a Fellow at The Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School affiliate. He travels the globe speaking about entrepreneurship and management alongside the likes of former Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann and AOL Founder Steve Case. Rhett Power is an acclaimed author, leader, entrepreneur and an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.