When it comes to maintaining company health, a balance between new business and account management is essential. Far too many companies put too much of a focus on drawing in new clients, meaning that their existing customer base suffers. This is true of a much broader range of industries than engineering – you only need to look at the consumer market to see a tidal wave of introductory offers for new customers, whilst existing customers are expected to pay full price.
Account management doesn’t have to be difficult, however. Largely, this comes down to recognising why your customers use you in the first place and offering a consistent service which continues to leave them coming back for more. By following the steps outlined below, you can encourage your clients to increase their spend with you going forward:
Whenever a customer has placed an order with you, it’s crucially important that you keep them updated as to the status of that order. By simply giving your customer a call or sending them an email at every stage of the project, your customer will feel assured that you have complete control over the project, as well as feeling valued as a client.
It’s also key to communicate any changes outside of those that were agreed at the point of order placement. Unforeseen circumstances, such as machinery breakdowns and staff sickness, can lead to delays in shipment – unfortunately, these are sometimes unavoidable. Although this kind of conversation is never fun to have, by keeping your customer informed, you allow them time to make contingencies so that their deadlines are not missed. This way, the impact of such delays is lessened, meaning that they’re much more likely to keep placing business with you going forward.
Keep Your Promises Wherever Possible:
Although the aforementioned circumstances can sometimes lead to unavoidable delays, a customer service-driven company will always try their very best to keep their promises. This applies not only to delivery, but also to the quality of parts, as well as any timeframes concerning quote preparation and other communicated updates.
With that in mind, it can also be tempting to over-promise on certain projects to appease the client, but that’s a bad idea. If you know you cannot meet a deadline, don’t agree to it just to win the work. This will only cause you bigger problems further down the road and your reputation as a reliable company is worth much more than one order.
Don’t Implement Dramatic Price Hikes:
Some engineering companies will quote an unsustainable price to entice a new customer to come on board. Remember, the hardest part of sales is getting the initial order and if the price you quote a buyer for their next job is vastly disproportionate to your first quote, then you will have done all of the hard work for very little pay-off! It’s much better to set a precedent by quoting a sustainable price right from the word ‘go’ – the repeat business you win will be far more rewarding in the long-term!
If you’re having a hard time winning work based on anything but price, then it’s worth checking out our blog on how to add value to your quote.
You can instil trust within your clients by being completely transparent about your capabilities. If certain aspects of a project are outside of your in-house capacity, then it’s worth being upfront with the customer about your limitations. You can also discuss the possibility of using second-tier suppliers to complete aspects of the work that you’re unable to take on – most buyers are more than happy to agree to this, provided that you assume responsibility for the project as a whole.
You can also invite your clients to your premises so that they can see your in-house set-up for themselves – if you haven’t yet met your customer face-to-face, then this can be a great opportunity to build rapport and strengthen your professional relationship moving forward.
Reviews can be good or bad, but either way, they’re a win-win for your business. Good reviews act as powerful marketing tools that you can use to increase your sales, whilst bad reviews offer key insight into areas you can improve upon to increase client retention.
Therefore, it’s well worth checking in with your customers regularly to address areas that they feel can be improved. Although this is not always the easiest pill to swallow, honest feedback regarding your services will give you a springboard into the correct areas of action – there’s a reason why the biggest companies are so hot on customer surveys! This can be as easy and straightforward as sending a blanket email to your customer base requesting a few comments, or if you want to go a step further, set aside some time to call each of your clients individually.
A Final Point:
Remember, it only takes one bad order for the relationship with your client to be irreparably damaged, resulting in lost business that will have a detrimental impact on your company going forward. Therefore, you can save yourself the time and effort it takes to replace customers just by implementing better account management strategies and ensuring that you consistently deliver a high quality service. That way, any new business you win will allow your company to grow, instead of making up for the shortfall caused by customers sliding off of your books.