So you've attracted a new client. Good for you! Clearly you're doing something right, because in this age of consumerism,
competition for clients and a near glut of service providers makes attracting new customers to any business a challenge. Once
you have that new client comes the real challenge—retaining the new customer and converting him or her to a loyal client.
Volumes have been written and countless presentations delivered on this subject. Clearly without new customers, no business
can prosper. But sometimes in our pursuit of new clients we forget that client retention is even more crucial.
The costs of losing, replacing and bringing an employee or associate up to speed are well understood. But the real cost impact
of losing a client is often unappreciated. The cost of developing a new client to the same level of profitability as a lost
client is very high. It can be 10 times more costly to get a new client than it would be to retain an existing one. Increasing
customer retention by a mere 5 percent increases profits by at least 25 percent. A 2 percent increase in customer retention
can equate to decreasing costs by 10 percent.
Why customers leave
To understand how we can better retain clients, it's important to understand why any customer leaves. While it would seem
obvious that providing quality medical care should be enough to attract and retain clients, to borrow from Porgy and Bess, "It ain't necessarily so."
In earlier conversations, we discussed the fact that most clients cannot evaluate medical care. After all, they're not trained
in veterinary medicine and they assume a certain level of parity among veterinarians. However, they can easily judge their
experience—how they were communicated with, how they were treated and how they felt about the overall experience. Provide
good patient care and they will likely return to do business with you—until you disappoint them just once. Then people will
tell them what a great experience they had at their vet, and they may well go elsewhere. Provide poor service and a poor client
experience, and I can assure you the best medical care you can offer won't convert them to loyal clients. But provide an excellent
customer experience and the assumed quality care, and they will certainly be back and refer other customers to you.
In a recent blog by David Wallace, co-founder and CEO of Search Rank, titled "When customers stick: Customer retention by
the numbers," it was reported that 82 percent of consumers stopped doing business with a company because of a perception of
poor service. The primary poor service experience reported was a rude staff member, followed by an unknowledgeable or poorly
trained staff member. More than 75 percent of customers canceled a transaction because of a poor service experience, and 66
percent of customers left a business because they did not like the way they were treated. Remember: Clients leave for a reason
and dissatisfied clients are far more likely to share their experience than satisfied ones.