GFI MAX EU Customer Conference day 2 - How to turn engaged customers into really sticky ones

Debbie Thomson

The idea of a “sticky” customer is one which was discussed a lot throughout the two days of the GFI MAX EU Customer Conference and was the main focus of one of yesterday’s business sessions from Bob Lawson and Colin Blumenthal of Complete IT.

Bob kicked off the session by highlighting the importance of retaining customers and suggested some of the key things to look out for in order to catch the early warning signs a customer may be planning to leave.

Catching the Warning Signs

He posed the question “Who is stalking your clients?” and suggested that if there are any of the following services you are not offering there could be the possibility that someone operating in one of these areas could be a threat to your customer base:

  • Servers
  • Workstations
  • Telecommunications
  • Mobile Services Provider
  • Imaging and Photocopying
  • Audio Visual

He then went on to suggest some of the possible reasons a client may have for deciding to leave, these included:

  • Forming other relationships
  • Leaving for competitive reasons
  • Dissatisfaction with the product

Highlighting the importance of continued engagement with your customers and catching the early warning signs that something might be wrong.

Interestingly Bob also put great emphasis on the Exit process stating “the exit process is almost as important as the onboarding and retaining processes” suggesting that by taking the time to conduct exit interviews you can learn what went wrong and both try to win back the client as well as ensure you do not make similar mistakes in the future.

Bob then handed over to Colin Blumenthal of Complete IT who talked us through just what can be done to avoid losing customers in any of the ways previously suggested by Bob.

Making Customers Sticky

Colin began by stating that to make a customer sticky “You’ve got to provide GREAT IT services that they find valuable” and went on to explain that what makes a good service GREAT is communication.

He highlighted the importance of listening to your customers and understanding what success looks like to each individual client as success can mean different things to different clients.

“Having the ability to have insight is the most important thing” he said as he explained that to take your service from being a great service to the next level you need to listen, adapt, think and be insightful.

He backed up Bobs earlier sentiments of the importance of catching the warning signs early, saying “Don’t just plough on and think things will get better, they won’t”...”make the change!” and he identified the signals which could indicate a client plans to leave:

  • They stop communicating with you
  • They stop taking your advice and buy alternative products and services from other vendors
  • They stop paying you!

One of the key ways Colin suggested to ensure good communication with your clients is to have regular and structured review meetings. His advice for doing so included:

  • Set an agenda – This shows the client you are taking them seriously.
  • Review what’s happened, listen and focus on what’s been learnt & what to do in the future.
  • Explain the business impact of what you have done - Back sell the value you have delivered to them.
  • Ask about the client and their plans - Think about how you can help them!
  • Don’t just think about the technology - Think about how the technology can improve the clients business.
  • Follow up the meeting with actions.

He then pinpointed different ways to provide “sticky” services and types of "sticky" products which all help to tie in existing customers including:

  • Finding more services that they find valuable
  • Looking for continuously valuable services
  • Listening to your clients
  • Thinking from your clients point of view
  • Cloud services
  • Recurring revenue products
  • Quality products

Colin finished off with a case study which highlighted the importance of adding continued value to your customers business. Most importantly it showed how listening to your clients needs & requirements can help take you from being just a service provider to being a trusted adviser and "partner" in their business; helping them to reach their goals for business success.

Were you at the GFI MAX EU Customer Conference? Share your experiences with us in a comment below!