WIPP's myContracting Magazine January 2015 - Page 32

By Tabatha Turman, Founder & CEO,

Integrated Finance and Accounting Solutions

As we enter 2015, I have found myself reflecting on my journey as an entrepreneur, thinking about what worked and what did not work for me. In the past few months, I have written articles about the steps one must take toward building a new company: investing in your skill set, establishing goals, developing your professional network, and building an internal infrastructure, among others. I would like to take this opportunity though to discuss what happens next; too often I find that we focus on how to build a company that we ignore what it takes to run a company.

Studies by the U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Chamber of Commerce have found that acquiring new business or clients can cost your business five to seven times more than to keep existing customers. Yet, so many of us are focused on creating new business opportunities, sometimes to the detriment of our existing clients. Retaining your client’s business is one of the best things you can do for your company’s overall success: Additionally, the probability of selling to an existing customer is between 60 and 70 percent, compared to the probability of selling to a new prospect, which is between 5 and 20 percent. So, what are the best strategies to retaining business? The answer is customer service.

We have all had clients leave our business – 68 percent of customers who leave cite service as the number one reason for leaving, while 55 percent of customers would pay extra to guarantee better service. The obvious takeaway from these statistics is that more so than any other factor, businesses must emphasize and establish high quality customer service. The good news is that there are concrete steps towards creating better customer service.

1. Communication:

Having an open and honest line of communication between you and your client will help them to understand what your business can do for them and what it cannot. An easy way to do this is to define the client’s expectations and your business’s scope, quality and responsibilities in the contract. Make sure not to make any promises that you cannot keep.

2. Trust:

The African Journal of Business Management found that the more your client trusts you, the more likely it is they will retain your service. Build trust with your clients by creating a relationship with them, taking an interest in both their business and their lives. Another way to build trust is through communication – create a company blog or a monthly email to let your clients know what the company is up to, or any new services you can provide. Your company will seem more transparent to your clients, allowing them to trust the information you provide.

3. Be Proactive:

Research ways in which your company can anticipate your client’s needs – do not wait for problems to occur but instead, predict possible problems and create solutions before they occur. For example, if something is time sensitive, set up alerts that automatically remind your client of the deadline, therefore eliminating missing out on possible opportunities.

4. Get Results:

While customer service is the best way of retaining clients, the most important part of customer service is getting your client results. Make sure there are no surprises, by staying organized and keeping focus on the plan you and your client have agreed to. Document how your service has helped your client’s business overall and report that to your client whenever possible. Regularly send out updates and business progress reports while also keeping in mind deadlines, budgets and other assignments.

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Tabatha Turman is the Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Integrated Finance and Accounting Solutions LLC an award winning government contracting consulting firm. With over 20 years of experience as an Army Finance Officer and consultant in the areas of military accounting and financial management,

Mrs. Turman has grown IFAS from a one-woman consulting firm to a highly regarded, employee oriented, multi-million dollar firm.

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