How many déjà vu customers do you serve – or attempt to serve? Go ahead. Take a head count of your customer base.
You know who these customers are. They continue to do business with you, perhaps even with a gap of a few years in between. When you reconnect, it is just like old times. You are very comfortable in your knowledge of each other’s business. There is mutual trust and respect.
You know they are interested in doing business with you, once again. Because, you have been there before.
However, with déjà vu customers, there is no appreciable forward progress.
In the process of “catching up” with each other, you discover, one again, what you have discovered before. The deliverables you created for them last time, remain dormant in their files. Unaddressed and unimplemented. Either wholly or partially. As either processes or continuous best practices.
In fact, these customers ask you to revisit and even repeat (“update”) your past work, in order to accomplish current outcomes. At this point in the conversation, you have a growing concern that your highly-skilled expertise and newly-created programs simply will collect dust and sit alongside your prior output.
Consequently, there is no demonstrable value in maintaining a déjà vu customer retention strategy, is there?
When you sell, design or service high-value, high-cost, complex solutions, you develop a set of client expectations. Especially for the set of clients you retain. Indeed, you expect your retained clients to implement your solutions, initially and continuously. Also, you anticipate retained clients will achieve the extraordinary and enduring outcomes these solutions are designed to provide.
However, no matter how comprehensive a solution you design, retained clients who are deja vu customers, are not willing to fully move forward. As a result, they make partial investments in the human capital, systems design and equipment required to execute strategy. In addition, these client types are more interested in dabbling with implementing your solutions on an every-now-and-then basis. They will not take the risk of changing their business model and organizational culture in order to fully implement the expertise they paid you to provide.
Thus, when you knowingly choose to create for déjà vu customers, the cost of demonstrating value erodes your profitability.
Yes, the fee you charge may be very nice, indeed. However, consider the time involved in creating yet another dormant deliverable.
Also, because your complex solutions are neither fully nor partially implemented, you are never able to assess the return on client investment: for them or for you. Consequently, it is as though the project, or program, or solution never happened. As a result, these clients hesitate to refer or recommend you. Primarily because they are embarrassed to admit they did absolutely nothing with your solutions.
After all, in order to demonstrate the value of your solutions, clients have to implement them. Not just think about them or consider implementing them or dabble at implementing them. Perhaps it is time for change. For you.
Target acquiring and retaining clients who look forward to collaborating on solutions with you.
Ultimately, the objective of that “catching up” conversation with déjà vu customers should have one purpose only: to determine what has changed since you last worked with each other. If nothing has changed, and past solutions remain hidden, then you truly have only one course of action. Walk away from déjà vu customers.
Instead, choose to spend your valuable time collaborating with retained clients who are committed to collaborating with you, as well. Remarkable and enduring solutions result from working with A-List customers, those with the courage and critical thinking skills to implement the solutions created by the people they are truly invested in.
Not only will A-List customers be delighted to refer you to their clients and colleagues. You, too, will be honored to refer them to your clients and colleagues, as well. Isn’t that what this is all about? Getting to the finish line, and beyond, together?
Ready to take your next steps towards professional innovation? You’ve come to the right place!
Babette Ten Haken, Founder & President of One Millimeter Mindset™ serves organizations as a corporate catalyst and innovative speaker, strategist, coach and storyteller. Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ Workshops and Speaking programs leverage collaboration to catalyze professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer retention, especially in challenging Industrial Internet of Things environments. Babette’s playbook of IIoT team collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. She is a member of SME, ASQ, SHRM and the National Speakers Association. Image source: Fotolia