Author Archive

Authentic ways to reduce client churn

Looking for authentic, meaningful ways to reduce client churn? Keeping existing clients from walking out the door should be top priority for any company. After all, you’ve worked hard to saw these clients to your vision and you’ve already invested in getting to know them. As long as there’s a fit, continuing to work with and grow existing clients should be a key focus. Unfortunately, clients something leave and managing client churn needs to be part of your overall strategy.

Credibility matters for client churn

Say you’ve got a big contract to fulfill and you can’t deliver on the promised date because something major has come up. If you already have trust and rapport with your client, they’ll be more likely to understand and work with you to solve problems.

That’s because your existing credibility actively works as “social currency”. That currency, combined with other business strategies and tools, can help you grow and sustain your business.

Reduce client churn by becoming the provider of choice

Be authentic from Day One

Deliver what you promise. If you want to build trust and credibility with clients, do what you say, when you say, and deliver what you say. You need to work to the contract terms and beyond and live up to your word. Embellisment, lies and half truths will catch up to you and do more damage than losing the client. A happy client may tell a few friends, but an angry client tells everyone.

Strive for transparency in working with everyone, no matter whether it’s a prospective client or a long-time friend. Be straightforward. Look for opportunities to genuinely help clients and seek to make meaningful connections with them.

Sweat the small stuff

Pay attention to little things that can throw a client relationship off track. Small irritations can grow into big ones as things pile up. Don’t let minor grievances accumulate. Let clients know they’re welcome to talk to you and ask for help, even if it seems like a minor detail to you.

 

Demonstrate that you work hard to deliver on your promises. While few people have the ability to see every detail, working to consistently improve and make good will count in the long run. As you work to improve all your work, it will eventually become part of the good work you do.

Keep learning

Continue to learn and improve. Take online continuing professional development courses, attend workshops, network with clients, contribute to social media discussions and look for opportunities to engage in your field. Your fluency in your core work will be evident in your interactions with clients, stakeholders and others and help to put their minds at ease, so that they can choose you over and over.

Study the art of business

Instead of simply getting mired in the details of individual tasks, think critically and strategically. Look for opportunities to develop client-focused strategies that help remind clients of your good work and reputation. Avoid bragging or over doing it, while showcasing your success stories and news. Take pride in your company, colleagues and stakeholders. Talk about them and put their achievemenets forward for others to enjoy. By helping others shine, you’ll come to be seen as someone worth knowing. Just be sure to be genuine in your efforts – people will see through braggarts and frauds and overdoing it will hurt your brand.

Strive for resourcefulness

Throughout your entrepreneurial journey, you’ll find new problems – and sometimes run into the same ones over and over. By being resourceful, you can navigate those obstacles. Work on quickly and creatively handling and solving problems.

Build a business that does more than find clients and deliver great proposals. Actively work to retain, engage and grow them. Your business will be more sound and, with any luck, you’ll find your way to more meaningful and validating work relationships too.

How to Set Up a Website or Blog with Bluehost

So you’re looking to set up a personalized email address, website or blog. I’m a Bluehost affiliate partner and I want to be clear that I receive a commission if you sign up with them. You are certainly welcome to set up a website, blog or personalized email anywhere. I spent a fair bit of time researching where to send Consultant Journal readers, though, and I chose Bluehost because they’ve been around the block, they’re a recognized name and their approach seems good. I’ll walk you through the steps.

  1. Click here to go to the Bluehost website (it will open in a new window).

bluehost welcome screen

 

Got it? Good. I am a big WordPress fan and I find it’s pretty easy for most people to set up, so I suggest going with that.

2. Choose a plan.

I’m a bit of a klutz, so I like having a backup for my websites. You can choose any of these plans, but I personally feel most comfortable with one that comes with a site backup, so that I can recover anything I lose. However, when I was starting out, I used to just keep copies of my stuff in a folder saved in the cloud. If you’re just going to have a few pages, you can start that way. However, think about whether you also want domain privacy. I also pay the extra for my sites to have my registration details kept private, so that I don’t end up with someone showing up at my office or home unannounced, except for the courier folks who bring my chocolate subscription!

Okay. So click the plan you want.

3. Choose a domain.
There are lots of places you can buy domain names and you’re certainly welcome to choose one from your vendor of choice. Bluehost includes a free domain with your registration setup, though, so you might want to stick with them and keep it simple.

If you’re choosing a domain name, I recommend going for something short and sweet. I’m a bit biased to .com domains, but it’s fine to look at other options. With so many people just relying on search engines and links, you have a bit more flexibility these days. Still, I prefer to find something short and easy to spell, pronounce and remember. I also suggest making sure you aren’t infringing on any trademarks or existing business names. You may want to try using the domain suggestion tool to find something, if your preferred options are taken.

Make your choice and click next. Depending on what you chose, you’ll either be on to your domain naming or the payment details.

4. Set up your account

Now you’re on to the account information screen. Provide your registration details. (Many countries require you to provide your contact information to comply with laws about website registration.)

Then choose your package. (It’s okay to choose the shortest time frame. You don’t have to go for three years and, although, as a partner, you might think I’d push you to go for the longest term, I suggest you just do a shorter term, so that you get a taste of what’s happening.) You can’t pay by the month, but you can choose a 1, 2, 3 or 5-year package that works out to a decent monthly amount.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I set up website, I click the domain privacy protection button. I don’t like my personal details out there for anyone to find. If you happen to work from home, it’s especially important that you consider a privacy plan – it doesn’t add very much and it keeps your address and other details private. Otherwise, just ignore all the special offers and details.

5. Add your billing details

website cc account details

 

 

 

 

 

Read the fine print and the terms, cancellation and privacy policy. If you agree, click submit.

6. Create your password.

website password setup

 

 

 

 

You’re almost there.

 

Click the Congratulations button.

congrats

And there you go. You’re done.

Okay. You’re all set up. You can set up your email, website or blog now.

While you can choose one of the website themes they offer, I generally stick with the themes that come with WordPress. That’s because themes get updates fairly regularly and you could be stuck with an out-of-date theme that hackers would exploit. (This has happened to me and it really hurt my brand. So now I make sure I use popular themes, not custom or one-off themes.)

Go check out your new domain – and don’t be surprised when you see it isn’t ready yet. It takes a while for all the new domain and name server info to percolate through the Internet. Give it a day or two. But, in the meantime, you can start building.

Click the all done button:

all done

Set up on WordPress

wordpress set up

 

 

Ta da!

So, from here, I would just click “I don’t need help.” Okay, I understand. You’re thinking, “BUT I DO NEED HELP!” I get it. It’s just that the options with the blue buttons come with things set up and then you might find you’re trying to undo some of what’s been set up. If you click “I don’t need any help”, you can start from scratch and just set up the way you want.

If you’re just doing a blog, you can simply have one page and do everything there.

If you’re doing a website, I recommend you do what I teach my university students! Set up the main home index page, About and Contact. From there, you might want to add pages for Blog, Services, Products. Keep it simple.

Check your email

Make sure you’ve activated any account and website links sent to you by Bluehost.

STUCK? HAVING TROUBLE? CONFUSED?

Contact Bluehost at https://www.bluehost.com/contact. Calling usually works better than chatting and, personally, I find I usually connect better with people on the phone, when I can hear their voice.  I don’t have your account information! Bluehost has all that and they can help you figure things out.

Enjoy your new website or blog!

5 ways to reduce client churn and turnover

Looking for a way to boost your bottom line? Taking steps to reduce client churn – account turnover – can help. Maintaining a strong relationship with existing clients and past clients offers an opportunity to improve efficiency and revenues.

Client churn or loss of customers can be a critical situation for any business. When you face turnover from even a small percentage of clients, it can reduce your revenue and tie up valuable resources as you try to recover. It can also affect your reputation.

Fortunately, by taking time to understand causes of client churn, you can figure out what causes clients to turnover – and what you can do about it.

Build credibility

Trust forms the base of customer relationships. Focus on clients most likely to be a good fit. If your client feels that you are not being honest in your dealings, they may stop engaging or returning and may even start telling others to do the same. Strive to build a culture of trust with clients. Be honest, predictable and reliable.

Set client expectations

Every client has individual needs, wants and expectations. By working with the client to understand their unique situation, you can help them build a vision to overcoming problems and finding solutions. As part of that, you need to position your services and products as key, without pushing anything on the client. If a client feels that there’s a lack of fit and that you’re not meeting their expectations, they won’t want to come back.

By taking the time to build relationships, you can better set client expectations. Let them know when you can and can’t help – and work with them to find solutions, even if you need to refer them to others to create a complete solution. Focus on delivering high quality services and products that align with your client’s needs and expectations. Wherever possible, under promise and over deliver.

Leverage champions

Your current clients can amplify your brand. They not only may continue to buy – they can influence others to buy from you. Create a marketing campaign focused on your current clients. Since you’ve already done the hard work of winning them over, it should be less work to convince them to buy again than to find new clients. Remind them why they sought you out, what successes they have and how they can continue working with you. You can also create a referral program to encourage them to use word-of-mouth to market your business.

Deliver outstanding customer experiences

In the age of globalization and online services, clients can easily move to new providers. But, by building a relationship that delivers a superior customer experience, you can help retain them – and make changing providers feel like a bigger risk. Listen to each clients’ needs and encourage them to give you feedback. Rather than getting caught up in conflict, look for opportunities to meet complaints, better explain options and even cross-sell your products and services. Clients prefer to work with providers who value their input and their experiences – so set up a feedback system and a way for responding. Look for opportunities to communicate how you’re responding to feedback and continuing to innovate.

Reward loyal clients

Create loyalty programs for clients to reduce churn and turnover. While that might make you think of a little card that your local coffee shop stamps each time you buy a coffee, this concept can scale up to even Fortune 500 firms. You can offer discounts, rewards and incentives for frequency of purchase, length of relationship, referrals, variety of services and products used and more. Sometimes, even a card or email that thanks a client for their ongoing business can make a difference, without requiring you to cut your fees.

While any business will face some client churn, successful businesses look at client turnover and make plans for addressing it. What steps do you take?

Building Credibility with Potential Clients

Building credibility – it’s a one of the major skills that every professional needs. Whether you are working as an entrepreneur, consultant, running your own business, or a professional, you need to prove you can deliver well.

Establishing credibility can be difficult when you are just beginning — especially when you’re trying to prove your worth to a potential client who doesn’t know the real you yet. With a plan, you can build credibility and rapport and find new clients.

How to keep building credibility with potential clients

Speaking cordially and respectfully

People will form diverse opinions when they meet you for the first time. Whether or not those cold contacts and assumptions will be harnessed and turned into orders depends on how you speak and address them.
You need to make them feel comfortable, so they can openly talk about their challenges. You need to help them feel heard and then help them develop a vision for solving it – and, if appropriate, assure them it’s a problem you can solve and that you can attend to their needs promptly.
You need to take a respectful, cordial approach and restate your capabilities.
No need for overbearing kindness or hoking concern. But, by seeing your clients as people like you, showing respect and giving them the attention they deserve can work wonders.

And use clear, consistent communication. If you sound hazy and ambiguous, it will be difficult for many to trust you, whereas clear, accurate, dependable communication will improve understanding and trust.

Allow their questions to land with you. Let the potential client feel heard. Give prompt, thoughtful answers.

Networking

With networking and proper social contacts, you can build credibility with potential clients. People prefer to deal with those they know and trust.

Check in with contacts on a regular schedule – frequent contact, conversation and more formal discussions helps keep you front of mind, but it also lets them know that you are part of their world. Be sure to be genuine and to respect boundaries, while steering away from anything that feels like it’s just to get the sale. Over time, those connections will build trust and referrals.

Writing

Consider using published works to establish your credibility.

  • Publish blog articles
  • Write newsletter pieces
  • Guest post on other blogs and websites
  • Write letters to the editor
  • Write for trade and professional journals
  • You could also write and deliver speeches on topics in your field.

Publishing your works will help establish you as a thought leader, well before you need to write a proposal for a potential client.

Social Media

Consider turning to social media to engage in conversations and build your reputation as a thoughtful leader in your field. You can look at short tweets, build a following on Instagram or even develop video blogs that let people really get to know you and your vision.

Speaking

Speaking at events and even to small groups can also help people get to know you. Once you’re given a podium, people naturally start to see your authority. If this seems overwhelming, keep in mind that you can build up to it, leverage other ways of communicating or work on your skills through a safe space, such as Toastmasters.

Efficient Delivery

Consistent, as-promised delivery stands out. It’s essential to building credibility with both ongoing clients and potential ones.
With efficient and good service, you’ll retain existing clients and encourage them to refer you to others. That good work fosters trust and durability. It’s the best form of ‘social proof’ out there.

None of this suggests that you make too much out of the ordinary. We speak, write, network and meet with people every day.

But keeping your credibility and good faith in mind as you go through your business day and processes will help build trust and authority with clients – and establish you as a preferred provider, worthy of your consulting fees, trust and time. Work at it and you’ll be on your way to building credibility with potential clients, existing clients and the world at large.

 

 

Related:

Advocacy – a Client Care and Communication Course from CareQuadrant

Establishing your worth

Recently, several readers have contacted me to say that they aren’t sure how to convince clients of their value. They note they’re new to the field and that they don’t know where to go from there. So how do you figure out a consulting fee when you’re an upstart consultant or firm?

Well, this is really a marketing question. With a marketing plan in place, you’ll have done the research to figure out what clients need and what solving the problem is worth to them. You’ll have put together a plan to help map out the challenges they face and to guide them through each step of building a relationship with you. In reality, it can take as many as seven contacts with you before a client reaches out. By building a system for marketing that helps build and nurture the relationship, you’ll be in a better position to convince clients that you’re not just worth the money, but that you really get them, understand their problems and can put together a sound solution that will move them to a better place.

But money and the discussion of money aren’t always easy topics for people. We all have baggage we carry when it comes to tackling our businesses and many people carry a lifetime of ideas, concerns or even cultural pressures about money. So, in Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants, I actually go into detail about the emotional roadblocks that trip so many of us up.

That being said, many of the challenges faced by consultans – new and veteran – come down to how solid your business and marketing plans feel. If you’re looking to bolster your plans, take a look at my consulting course.

Where do you find yourself stumbling or uncertain?

Writing great consulting proposals


Writing a consulting proposal? This evergreen post on writing proposals for consulting includes an overview of some key considerations for any proposal.

Of course, you’ll also want to include the contract terms, consulting fees, deliverables, terms of reference and other points. But starting with some key points can help.

Take a look at this post for pointers: http://consultantjournal.com/blog/proposals-proposals-and-what-you-need-to-consider

 

CPD for BC CPA accounting members

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements for BC CPA (Chartered Professional Accountants) refer to the annual learning investment these financial professionals need to make every year. As with other chartered, certified and licensed professions, accountants need to maintain their right to practice through ongoing training and learning.

Our discussion of CPD explains both online and offline courses and examples of the kinds of continuing education many professions recognize. More than just British Columbia’s CPAs may find this CPD discussion helpful.

Many professional associations distinguish between verifiable and non-verifiable CPD — in some cases, organizations recognize self-reported learning. After all, members of chartered, licensed and certified professions are required to show good character and professional judgement. So time spent in self study on books and courses counts too. Some professionals from a range of careers – not just accounting — have turned to our books on consulting practice management for CPD course credit.

Verifiable credit usually needs to be supported through proof of attendance, examination or other third-party evidence that you took part. Professional organizations often give more weight or focus more hours on such programs.

CPD for BC CPA Accounting Members

For the specifics of what British Columbia’s CPAs need to meet outcomes, take a look at their CPD page on the professional association site.

CPD online courses – Canada, US & International

CPD online courses – in Canada, US & International – and other offerings for continuing professional development can help busy legal, medical, financial and other professionals meet their annual requirements. In many fields, professionals need to take a minimum number of CPD courses each year to meet requirements for maintaining membership, licenses, certifications or other designations.

Online CPD benefits

Traditionally, many people turned to their professional society or to annual conferences and cruises in warm and sunny climes. But the advent of online CPD course offerings has opened the door to new ways of accessing continuing professional development. With ebooks, videos and online courses, busy practitioners can access CPD online.

For people with busy practices and careers, active family lives, remote locations or just a preference to work on their own or in small groups, online CPD may be the way to go.

Online CPD and Offline Options for Continuing Professional Development

CPD is just one of the many terms for ongoing professional development. Other terms:

  • Continuing Education Units (CEU)
  •  Continuing Renewal Units (CRU)
  • Professional Development Points (PDP)
  • Professional Learning Units (PLU)
  • Continuing Legal Education (CLE)
  • Mandatory Continuing Legal Education(MCLE)
  • Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE)

CPD – online & other formats

Continuing professional development may happen on the job (in-service) or outside the workplace. It might be through formal or informal programs. In some organizations, the Human Resources department may offer programming or there may be dedicated training departments in some firms. Some employers may also include CPD and other professional development courses as part of annual reviews and ongoing workforce planning. In other cases, it’s up to the individual to pursue their CPD.

 

CPD Online & Traditional Formats:

  • Lecture
  • Workshop
  • Academic course
  • Case studies
  • Coaching
  • Small group communities of practice
  • Individual study or reading
  • Mentoring

Some organizations award CPD credit for:

  • Teaching
  • Mentoring
  • Writing and publishing
  • Supervision

Looking for individual study options for you? Take a look at our online CPD resources. We have also partnered with CareQuadrant to offer socially innovative online CPD courses on inclusive language, advocacy, reflective practice and more.

 

How to choose Twitter name

Wondering how to choose a Twitter name or handle? Picking the right handle can help reinforce and build your brand.

twitter name

How to choose a Twitter name or handle

  1. Determine whether you are establishing a business, personal or professional account on Twitter. Some people create multiple accounts – for their business, for personal use, for advocacy, for political messaging or other reasons.
  2. Decide whether you are going with a business name, an anonymized handle or your own name. For example, someone might have one personal account for speaking openly about political situations, but use a handle that obscures their identity. Others may just wish to keep their identity visible, but separate their discussions about the latest in legal policy from their personal rants about the way their sports team performed in the playoffs.
  3. Choose a relevant name. If it’s your business or professional account, look for a name that mentions your business, your brand or what you do.
  4. If your preferred Twitter name is taken and you think your copyright is being infringed, take a look at Twitter’s infringement policy . But note that even celebrities have had to resort to workarounds. Look at @aplusk or @taylorswift13.  If someone is just squatting on the name and not using it, you can also look at asking Twitter to release the handle.
  5. Avoid numbers and meaningless letters. @AustinMarketing99a just doesn’t look very credible.
  6. Reinforce your brand. Consider using a handle that matches your email address or what you use on other sites. It reinforces your brand and is easier for people to remember. If people need to look you up on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and other sites, it will be easier for them – and you’ll be less likely to send someone your audience by mistake.
  7. Strive for a short handle. No one wants to type out a long stream of letters and it makes a typo more likely. You’re limited to 15 characters, but try for fewer.
  8. Keep in mind that your Twitter handle may be printed on event name tags, shown on screens in presentations, mentioned in other media or elsewhere. If you go for @CuteSeattleChris, @LAHockeyHater or @RepublicanJo or something along those lines, be sure that you’re comfortable with everyone seeing and using your handle.

What to do if your Twitter name is taken

  • Shorten your name. Turn Peggy into Peg. Richard into Rick. Kelly-Anne Kendrick into KAKendrick.
  • Add a descriptor/adjective. Try @AuthorPeggy or @RickAccounting
  • Include an initial. Try@JanetFSmith or @MeilingTChan
  • Add your state, city or country. @MacAccountingVan, @MacAccountingCA, @MacAccountingUS.
  • Use an abbreviation. The @WSJ, @NYTimes and @nbcsnl all do.
Got any other suggestions? Check out our article on choosing a professional email address for related tips.

Related to How to choose Twitter name

 

 

How to sign up for Twitter

How to sign up for Twitter – shortly after asking about the merits of getting an account for Twitter, a friend and colleague asked how to go about signing up for the a free social media service. While you can merely check the steps on the Twitter site, some people prefer a step-by-step guide.

How to sign up for Twitter - image of a smartphone with Twitter sign up page

How to sign up for Twitter

    1. Go to Twitter.com.
    2. In the top right corner, you’ll see a “sign up” button. Click it.
    3. Provide some basic information about yourself. You’ll need to include your name, email address and a password. (See our password management app article.)
    4. You may need to try a few times to find an account name that hasn’t been taken. Try adding information, as opposed to numbers. MarketingConsultant2017 or MarketingConsultant443 are less memorable than DavisMarketingChicago.
    5. Then click “Create my Twitter account”
    6. Upload a photo (people connect better to pictures of people, but you could also use your logo)
    7. Add a background (a relevant landscape photo can work)
    8. Write a short bio. You may want to include some keywords that describe your work or interests, as well as something that makes you feel a bit more personable (“Father of 3. Longboard deck collector.)

Once you’ve created an account, start following some people and lurk on Twitter for a while. When you feel like you get the idea, try your hand at tweeting. You may want to write out some tweets ahead of time, then post them one at a time. You can experiment with replying to others, sending inbox messages and following conversations.

Related to Signing up for Twitter

Should I join Twitter?

Should you be on Facebook?

Consulting Fees

Professional email address names