With today’s blog I’m starting a series called “The Pursuit of Creating Value” with the purpose of pointing out some best practices that we can apply to build up the value in our business.

A lot of solopreneurs and small businesses fall short when it comes to client retention. In today’s economy it is extremely important to maintain those clients that already know the value of our product or service. It costs less to keep a client than to get a new one.  The ongoing pursuit of value is a big dilemma businesses face day in and day out. This is especially true when we want to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.

Best Practice #1:  Seek Your Client’s Opinion. It is without a doubt that today’s marketing is about communities, having conversations, truly listening to our client’s needs and most importantly, taking into account that feedback so necessary for us to become more valuable to our clients, resulting in more business growth, profitability and, most importantly, personal satisfaction.

The benefits of seeking feedback are countless. A client’s opinion has invaluable sales power. Our clients have already experienced what it’s like to work with us – what kind of value they are receiving from us. They corroborate what we are trying to demonstrate, that is, how good our product or service is. We must be open, receptive and most welcoming to what our clients have to say about our services. We must make it a habit to follow up with our clients after completing a project or assignment. This practice will not just show our clients that we really care about the overall satisfaction of our product, but it will also help to build up our reputation as someone who is very attentive to meeting clients’ needs.

Here are some channels you can use to seek your client’s feedback. Please make sure you do not overwhelm your client with your feedback requests. Your clients are very busy, so use the method that you think is more appropriate for your client’s busy schedule.

Post-project email: A few days after you have delivered a project, fulfilled an order or completed an assignment for your client, follow up with a brief email to find out if everything met their expectations.  Most clients will respond, but, if they don’t, you may want to wait a few days and follow up with a phone call. Even if you can’t get the feedback you are seeking, your client will feel that you really cared about their overall satisfaction.

Follow-up phone call: If your client is easily accessible, you can follow up with a quick phone call. Be very polite and seek feedback about the project, using just a few questions. Remember that your client is very busy. The idea is to learn if your client’s expectations were met. Now, if you are bold enough, seek feedback as to how to improve. In a service business, perception is everything. So make sure your and your client’s perceptions are in alignment. You may want to follow up with a quick “thank you” email for the feedback. If your client didn’t get your call, you can leave a voice mail and ask them let you know if anything was not to their complete satisfaction. One phone call is sufficient. Don’t bombard your client with several phone calls. This may annoy them and produce a negative response.

Brief online survey: You can easily create a very quick post-project survey in Google Docs so your clients can provide their feedback online using a short survey designed to report their overall satisfaction.

Be open and prepare to follow through on the feedback you receive. If your client is very happy with you, strengthen those features that your client really likes about working with you. If there are some areas of concern, take action and improve upon them. Don’t settle for just “meeting” client’s expectations. Your goal should always be to exceed them!