Strategic Alliances: Loyalty
Loyalty is a hot button issues in business literature. We’re all trying to find ways to create loyalty programs which actively encourage repeat business. No one refutes the importance of loyalty, but not everyone seeks to cultivate it. Like an arrogant king, some assume that it is simply owed to them for the services they provide. Think about it this way, though. Pepsi and Coke don’t advertise to inform new people of their services, they advertise to keep their name in the market, to make it a culturally significant noun. Make yourself a significant noun to your clients, and you’ll be on the tip of their tongue all the time.
Not Created Equal
Not all clients are created equal. Make sure you keep this in mind. Some clients are high maintenance, but are worth the price tag. Some are low maintenance and pay well. Some are all of the worst permutations of that. Difficult to work with, low-paying clients should be culled from your list as quickly as possible. You may think it worth while to continue working with them simply to have the extra cash, but they occupy much of your mental territory and stop you from expanding. Treat good customers well, and they’ll talk you up. Difficult customers, you will find, often don’t do much talking.
Make it tangible. Show the customers that are great to work with well by offering them rewards such as workshops, free minor sessions, etc. If a client uses you exclusively, offer discounts and bundled packages. If they’re willing, offer a retainer fee that saves them a few dollars here and there but also guarantees you the money month-to-month. They’ll appreciate seeing you as a more fundamental part of their team, and you’ll appreciate the stability.
Remember, word of mouth doesn’t just come from good work, it comes from outstanding relationships. If you reward loyalty in your IT consulting work, you’ll guarantee that they wont just be happy with your work, they’ll want to give back to you. Many loyal clients will go far out of their way to reference you to their contacts. Loyalty is a reciprocal cycle, just get the ball rolling and you will see results down the line.
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