How To Build a Relationship That Lasts with Clients and Customers

Nov 4, 2021


As a startup, you have a big focus on making sales. Sure, that’s true for every business. But when you’re in the make-it-or-break-it state of a seed-stage tech company, every single dollar you bring in feels particularly meaningful. 

It’s surprising, then, that so many startups focus more on bringing in new clients or customers rather than retaining the ones they already have. Because here’s the thing: your likelihood of selling to someone new is only about 20%, at best. Your likelihood of landing a sale with an existing client or customer is triple that, at least. 

All told, it’s a lot easier to keep a client than to land them in the first place. And when you keep more of your customers, your odds of making more sales go up. Long story short, customer retention matters.

While there are a lot of marketing efforts and sales tactics you can deploy to help keep your customers around, a huge piece of customer retention comes down to relationship-building, especially when your startup is small. 

With that in mind, we rounded up four tips to help you build relationships that last with your customers and clients.

#1: Be responsive

One of the biggest things you can do to improve the way a client sees your startup is to get back to them right away. Across channels, customers expect a quick response from you. On social media, nearly 80% of people expect a response in 24 hours. The same is true for email. 

In other words, four out of five people expect to hear back in a day or less. And that’s just the expectation. Get back within a day and you’re just aligning with the status quo. Miss that mark and you risk losing them. 

To impress your clients — and uptick your chances of keeping them long-term — you need to aim for response times well under a day. (In fact, those two studies we just linked both reported that about one-third of people want responses in an hour or less.)

All told, the faster you can address client concerns and ensure they feel heard, the more likely you are to meet, or hopefully exceed, their expectations. 

This might feel overwhelming, but it can be pretty simple. First up, set up clear channels for your customers to contact you. Those might be:

  • An email address
  • Specific social media channels
  • A phone number
  • An online contact form

Then, make sure someone from your team is tasked with continually monitoring those communication channels and responding right away. 

That’s not to say that person needs to have answers ASAP. The following response is probably enough: “We got your message, [CLIENT NAME], and we’re working on your request about [REQUEST]. I’ll circle back tomorrow with more info.” Just make sure that you follow up on any promises you make about getting back in touch on a specific timeline. 

#2: Welcome — and act on — feedback

In your sales and marketing materials, encourage people to tell you what they’d like to see from your startup. You can instruct people to send in feedback via the monitored channels we just outlined above.

Then, when you get feedback, make it a point to review it and see if you can act on it in any way. If you have a recurring meeting with your key team (like a weekly sync), incorporate a feedback review into it. 

Your customers and clients are your best indicator of future sales opportunities, so moving on what they want makes sense if you want to see your startup grow.  

Image by Habitat_de_lill from Pixabay


#3: Meet them where they’re at

Customers expect you to be able to connect with them on their preferred channels and to personalize your interactions with them there. That means that you need to show up where they want.

Maybe your clients all love email, or maybe they want a Facebook group where they can connect. Maybe they don’t mind if your customer service desk is only open during standard business hours as long as they get a live person when they call in, or maybe they’re okay with an automated phone tree as long as it’s available 24/7. 

Get to know your customers’ preferred communication channels and show up there. If you’re not sure about your clientele’s preferences, don’t be afraid to send out a poll. Just make sure you distribute it across multiple channels — because the people who respond via email are probably the people who prefer email. 

#4: Stay the course

You don’t want to overpromise and underdeliver, obviously, but you also don’t want to do the opposite or you could risk losing clients to your competitors.

The key here is to get really clear about your value proposition for your customers and to make sure you can deliver on precisely that. 

When you’re scaling a startup, it’s easy to see some mission creep. Continually come back to your specific list of products and services. Make sure you can do those really well before you expand. For customer retention purposes, it’s better to do a few things excellently than it is to do a lot of things okay. You want to be the only one your clients think of when they need something you offer. 

As you deliver products or services, track the time to get them out the door and what your client thinks of them once received. The former helps you set realistic expectations for future customers — and, again, customer retention is all about meeting or exceeding those expectations.

Tracking feedback on your service/product helps you refine what you offer to make it stand out. Sending out a basic customer satisfaction survey is a great way to gather insights here. This goes back to #2 about welcoming and acting on feedback. When you see what real people using your product/service really think, you can iterate to make it the best possible offering. And when you offer the best, your customers will keep coming back for more.

Ultimately, retaining customers requires a lot of work. It’s well worth it, but you only have so many hours in the day. 

To free you up for your core work, our ShayCPA team is here to handle all of your tech startup’s accounting needs.