Tips to Deal with Answering Service Client Churn

Tips to Deal with Answering Service Client Churn

Losing Clients Each Month Is Inevitable but You Can Minimize How Many

A great characteristic of running a telephone answering service is having monthly recurring revenue. But no client remains on service forever. They’ll eventually cancel their service with you. Then you need to find new clients to replace them just to stay even. This is client churn. And to grow you must add clients faster than you lose them.

Losing some clients is inevitable: they close their doors, merge with another company, or experience different business needs. However, often cancellations are avoidable. Here are some ideas to reduce the number of clients you lose each month.

Sales and Marketing 
Better retainment of clients starts at the beginning. It starts before they become clients. It starts with sales and marketing. Do your marketing practices accurately portray your answering service and the outcomes your clients can expect? Overpromising and underdelivering is a sure way to lose clients fast.

Do your salespeople say anything to close a sale? That’s bound to set the basis for client disillusionment. If sales promise one thing but you deliver something else, clients will be quick to leave. And it will be hard to stop.

Onboarding 
Once you close the sale the next step is to set up their account and begin service. Some answering services rush through this process, expecting to fix things later. This is understandable given that most clients want to begin service right away once they decide to hire your company. However, the impression you make in the early days of your business relationship with them will be the impression that lasts. And if it’s not a good impression they’ll be quick to leave.

Service Provision 
Though everyone talks about providing quality service, quality isn’t as important as consistency. It’s better to be consistently average, then to bounce between excellence and failure from one call to the next. Yes, do your best to provide quality on every phone call, but strive even more to be consistent. When you provide consistent service, your clients know what to expect and you’ll deliver every time. Consistency combats churn.

Problem Resolution 
Service issues are bound to occur at any answering service. It’s how you respond that sets you apart from your competition. Many customer service people don’t realize that there are two aspects to resolving service issues. One is correcting the problem, and the other is leaving the client with a positive impression of the interaction. Fixing the issue but neglecting to deal with the human aspect is customer service failure— and a quick way to lose a client.

Billing 
Look at your invoices. Are they easy to understand? If your bills confuse—or even worse, frustrate—your clients, this is another negative factor that will tip the balance toward leaving versus staying. Next, are the fees, what did marketing and sales promise? Third, are the charges accurate? And just as important as accuracy is your clients’ perception of accuracy. There is also a customer service aspect of billing, accounts receivable, and collections. Don’t let this be your downfall. Make sure accounting isn’t driving clients away.

Cancellations 
When clients have enough, they’ll call to cancel service. By then is usually too late to salvage the business relationship. They already have another service lined up and may have already been using them to make sure they’re not going from an unacceptable situation to an even worse one. Though you can save a cancellation or two at this point, it’s usually too late.

And whatever you do don’t offer a concession to save the client. Giving them a free month of service or discount on their bill will encourage them to complain more often. And when you’ve had enough of their freeloading and say no, they’ll leave anyway.

Summary 
Successful customer retention begins with sales and marketing. It continues with the onboarding process. And the consistent provision of service is key. Another crucial factor is billing accuracy.

Don’t wait until a client calls to cancel service to try to save their business. Retaining their business starts before they even become your client. This is the surest way to reduce answering service churn.

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