Client Satisfaction Vs. Client Retention

KENNESAW, Ga. (Sep 26, 2016) — As we prepare to engage in the battle for client retention, client satisfaction is a really big bullet. I’d sure want to have it in my arsenal as we take on the challenge of retaining clients. The problem is, that client satisfaction in and of itself, is not enough to guarantee success. At worst, overreliance on a client satisfaction metric or annual survey can be down right dangerous. Here’s a quick story from Steve Wurzbacher, an Executive in Residence at the Coles College of Business:

Several years ago, I was conducting a PostMortem AuditSM for a new Tenacity client that competed in the BPO space. All I knew, prior to conducting the assessment, was that they were shocked to have lost this important client, particularly since the annual satisfaction survey had indicated the client was quite pleased with the service.

The back office staff turned out to be quite large. As I was interviewing the department head, who had functioned as my client’s primary liaison, I made my way to asking about the survey, and our surprise and confusion at the positive ratings provided just prior to termination. The liaison responded, “You know, I’m actually not sure who filled out the survey this year. I think it might have been Julie. Every year when that comes in, I see who might want to do it, or is willing to do it, and just give it to them to complete. We really don’t take it very seriously.”  Wow!

I can promise you my client took it seriously – even to the extent that they based performance appraisals and ultimately compensation on how their clients responded to it. For a client not to take it seriously, even to the extent that they would have a clerk (who would be no where near their Web of Influence®) complete it, was astounding.

So, this represented the worst of all cases. The feedback was simply wrong, irrelevant and not representative. Even in the best of cases, however, there is almost no way that any survey feedback device could accurately represent the collective thinking of all the key decision makers.

At the same time, we have to recognize that client retention behaviors are distinct from client satisfaction behaviors. The account management processes that are part of the Clients for Life® client retention process, including Transition Meetings, Expectations Sessions, Web of Influence construction, Revelation X® management, TARPTransition Lite, etc. – are all retention specific behaviors of the highest order.

Even if your satisfaction data is good, and it probably isn’t, simply doing a good job is not nearly enough in today’s world, to keep the clients you’ve worked so hard to get. So while we recognize that operational excellence is always the first line of defense, keeping clients requires the diligent execution of a formal process focused specifically on client retention.

Steve, John, and Gary

The Tenacity Center for Account Management and Client Retention

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