Clients are arguably the most important aspect of running a successful and healthy engineering firm. What’s even more important is retaining them. Did you know it can be anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive to gain a new customer than to retain an existing one? So, how are you preventing client churn at your firm? On the surface, it can feel like there’s little control a firm can have over what its clients do, but in reality, improving retention starts internally.
Keep on reading to learn our tips for improving your internal operations to boost client retention at your firm.
It Starts With Your Employees
Client churn is directly tied to employee churn. By making a concerted effort to focus on your employees, you’re in turn strengthening client relationships and retention. Clients may sign on for your firm’s reputation or the strategy you propose to tackle their work, but the reason they stay goes beyond that. Clients like to know that their business and needs are fully understood. Consistency is key to building this trusting relationship between your staff and clients. If a client is constantly being shifted to a new team or staffer, it will always feel like a new engineering firm to them.
Establishing healthy firm culture is not an overnight task. It takes dedicated time and patience, and requires organic energy and genuine intent. But with the right leadership and plan of actions and goals, you can take pride in knowing you, as well as your clients, are deeply valued.
Focus on Resource Allocation
Going hand-in-hand with employee retention, how you manage staff capacity impacts your clients’ experience. From a client’s perspective, they’d like to have the best team on their project and feel as though all their tasks and deadlines are prioritized. Internally, you know trying to accommodate everyone’s needs can become overwhelming, to say the least.
If you’re still using Excel to plot out employee schedules and spending extra time meeting about each staffer’s status, chances are things aren’t as efficient as they could be.
Using resource allocation software to manage your staff streamlines this whole process. This type of software pulls in the employee’s tracked time and already assigned projects and tasks, so project managers can automatically see who is available to take on the workload. From there, you can also view staff of the same job function, or the whole project team, in case you need to reassign or shift any tasks. Having these insights ensures you’re mapping out your staff capacity at optimal efficiency and makes it simple to assign each client with the best staffer for the job.
Practice Clear Communication
While this may sound like a no-brainer, having a healthy open line of communication with your clients (and team) can solve and prevent so many issues. Create open and transparent communication for each tier of your firm: management to staff, project managers to consultants, and project teams to clients.
Especially with clients, being proactive with sharing information on the status of their project and budget updates helps them have a better understanding of the effort your firm is putting into the work and builds trust. If you wait to retroactively tell them the project is now behind, or a budget has gone over, they’re more likely to be upset and have a negative experience.
It may take some time and hard work, but by practicing the tactics and initiatives above, clients will notice the effort you put in and those relationships will become stickier. Of course, there’s no harm in still going after new engagements — just don’t forget about all the potential you already have. Looking for more tips and advice from experts in engineering? Learn more here.
About the Author
Leanna Michniuk is a content marketing specialist at BigTime Software, the leading professional services automation software. Creating relevant and applicable content for those in the professional services industry, Leanna is dedicated to creating work that helps boost efficiency in service organizations. BigTime is recognized as one of Inc. 5000’s Fastest-Growing Companies in America and is on G2’s Top 100 Software Companies list.
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share on the things you do to prevent client churn at your firm.
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To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success