5 ways for Procurement Service Providers to Retain Clients

Published April 2015

Many companies focus a lot of time and effort trying to gain new customers rather than looking after the ones they already have. However, employing a strategy to increase customer retention can increase profits significantly as it is considerably more expensive and time consuming to acquire new customers than it is to retain existing ones. So what can you do to ensure you build long term partnerships with your clients? Here are our 5 steps for improving client retention for Procurement Service Providers.

1: Analyse why customers leave

A good first step is to analyse why customers have left you in the past. A good place to start will be to consider whether you are able to measure how many clients and left you and why? If you can’t access information about the clients that have left you then you should think about implementing a reporting process to track how much repeat business you are getting and when and why customers leave. Some of the reasons your customers may leave you include:
  • They are unhappy with your product or service
  • They prefer a competitor If a large number of clients are leaving you for a competitor you need to know what they are doing that is different. You may need to alter your pricing structure, service, product or way of doing things if you are to keep up with the competition. You may need to keep modernising, businesses have to keep pace with change and up to date with latest best practices if they want to keep customers happy.
  • They had a problem that wasn’t resolved properly If you made a mistake and didn’t deal with it properly your customer will probably leave you. Putting in place systems to alert you when a problem occurs so that you can respond swiftly in real time can prevent you from losing these clients.

2: Employ the right people and keep them happy

Happy staff provide better customer service, staff that are overloaded with administrative duties rarely have the time to go the extra mile. Staff can also offer a better service if they are empowered by processes and technology that allow them to track a customer’s life-cycle and respond to them in real time. Many businesses have found that by utilising technology they can improve operational efficiency, free up their employee’s time and ultimately provide much better customer service. Relying on manual processes can result in problems slipping through the net but adopting technology allows you to adopt a customer lifecycle management approach. Employ automation tools (e.g. Claritum) that can standardize your processes. Look for a system that can capture orders, optimise production and supply and track every stage of the customer order. Controls can be built into the process to ensure that customers are tracked and communicated with throughout their life cycle. This will make it easier to fulfil customer expectations and also to identify opportunities to cross sell to customers.

3: Focus on the buying experience

Customers are more likely to return and buy from you if they have enjoyed a smooth buying experience. The buying process has changed and Procurement Service Providers need to keep pace with these changes. Today’s buyer is looking for solutions that make their lives easier. They are used to buying from online stores like Amazon and when they have to deal with a company who processes are still very manual they can feel disappointed. Consider giving customers their own shopfront and make their buying experience happier and more efficient. We have found that procurement service providers keep customers for longer when they implement a customer storefront for their customers.

4: Communicate regularly

We all know that we should communicate with our clients regularly but creating a schedule will help you to stay focused on regularly keeping in touch with your clients.
  • Use email marketing(e.g. Mail Chimp, Dot Mailer), inbound marketing (eg. Hub Spot, Act-on) and social media (Linked-In, Facebook, Twitter) tools to build brand loyalty and keep your brand at the forefront of your customer’s minds.
  • Follow the 8 week rule, put in a call to your clients every 8 weeks or so just to touch base and see if you can help them in any way.

5: Ask for feedback and listen to it

Sometimes companies make the mistake of thinking they know what their clients think but sometimes it pays to ask. Companies that offer subscription based services will often have a box asking “why are you leaving us?” when customers close their accounts. Some companies even make it impossible for you to close your account without speaking to a sales person. These companies have these processes in place to stop clients leaving or to help them understand better what they can do to keep them. If your company doesn’t offer subscription based services you can still find out why they left you by calling them by sending an email or a survey (try Survey Monkey or Survey Gizmo) to try to find out why they haven’t placed further orders with you. Find out more about Claritum's Spend Management for Procurement Service Providers. Sign up now to book a demo.