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why clients come back - your list

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Timothy J. Allenwhy clients come back - your list
by on Jul 22, 2008 at 3:13:37 am

Why do your clients come back?

I'm interested in your perspective. Here is my list of reasons past clients have given to me - ranked in order of most important to least important.

Why clients say they come back:

1. Expertise (skill+knowledge)
2. Price
3. Equipment
4. Availability
5. Location

And here is why I think they really come back:

1. Trust (reliable to get project done on time and within budget)
2. Personality (this usually means having fun on the project, but also means projecting confidence and keeping calm under pressure)
3. Expertise
3b. Availability
4. Snacks and coffee in the edit suite
5. Because I ask.

What's your list?

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grinner hesterRe: why clients come back - your list
by on Jul 22, 2008 at 3:43:33 am

my clients come back because they can't get what I offer anywhere else.
I love story-telling, I'm good with graphics, I have the self-tenasity to never miss a deadline and I'm affordable.
They like the peace of mind of knowing the project is going to be the best it can be nefore even dropping it off. This is what they purchase from me.

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Timothy J. AllenRe: why clients come back - your list
by on Jul 22, 2008 at 5:41:25 pm

I'm interested, Grinner. How would you would rank those things you listed? We know they are all important.

Do you think your clients would rank the order differently?

It's easy to say to say that we hire someone for their expertise, but isn't that's a given? Why go to someone if we don't think they can deliver? Cost is another easy thing to mention for clients. There are a number of reasons for this - I think one is that it seems easy to measure and compare among "vendors".

Same service with cheaper price = "better", right?. As we know, that's never as simple as that equation because it's as difficult to measure "service" as it seems easy to measure price.

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grinner hesterRe: why clients come back - your list
by on Jul 22, 2008 at 5:50:36 pm

I'm a romantic, man. Id so love to tell you that I am of the belief that my clients come to me because they think I'm a rightous dude.
This is why they tell their bosses where they want to go though.
I bill hours because I have adjusted many things to adhere to an ever-changing market. Most of these changes were not my idea but my requirement to stay afloat. dats da bare bones troof, man.
I have a rate thats impossible to ignore in this market, well below any other place with comparable gear and talent. I have an approach unlike any other. That confidence I mentioned earlier, I am still of the opinion, is key to success. Bottom line, at least for me is if I don't know it, aint nobody else gonna believe it.
I'm no sales person. My clients are my sales team.

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Marc VillarinRe: why clients come back - your list
by on Jul 22, 2008 at 3:47:35 am

There are many many clients have their reason why they do come back, so far here are the comments I do here from them, reasoning why they do come back.

1. The people involved - Very knowledgeable and good in their expertise. Plus they are good-looking (hehe)

2. The Facilities - They compliment about how stylish, comfy, well equipped and relaxing the facilities are.

3. Budgets - Not making the client spend an Ungodly huge investment, to produce a well though work/

4. The receptionist - this needs a special place in the list I mean hey, they are the beautiful looking front lines of our industries.

5. Personality - I mean, even though the clients grind, we still do it with a smile.

Look on the Bright Side...

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Mike CohenRe: why clients come back - your list
by on Jul 22, 2008 at 6:10:07 pm

I would say:
1. Expertise - understanding the subject matter, solid database functionality and ease of making updates
2. Special services - we offer CME accreditation, conference planning, support
3. Pricing - this is more than just a low price - it is the value for the money
4. They want what we have - since we market our own products (books, DVDs) we have both clients(work for hire) and customers (commerce).

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Jason SirotinRe: why clients come back - your list
by on Jul 22, 2008 at 6:49:31 pm

1. Final Product
2. Trust
3. Price
4. Enjoys working with us
5. Felt like they were part of the creative process (They love that!)

Jason Sirotin
VP Business Development
ECG Productions

Main Website:

Blog Sites:

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Christopher WrightRe: why clients come back - your list
by on Jul 23, 2008 at 6:20:29 am

Jason has got my vote!
And I mirror his list!

Dual 2.5 G5, IO, Kona LH, IO, Medea Raid, UL4D, NVidia 6800, 4Gig RAM
Octocore 8 GB Ram, Radeon card, MBP, MXO
Windows XP Adobe Studio CS3, Vegas 8.0, Lightwave 9.2, Sound Forge 9, Acid Pro 6, Continuum 5, Boris Red 4, Combustion 2008, Sapphire Effects

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Timothy J. AllenRe: why clients come back - your list
by on Jul 23, 2008 at 2:05:47 pm

Jason's addition of #5. "Felt like they were part of the creative process" is a great point!

In many cases, working with a video production team is considered the most creative part of someone's job. It's their chance to not only get a glimpse into the "mysterious" world of TV production, it's a chance to contribute their expertise (knowledge of the subject) to the project.

Seeing that enthusiasm in clients is one of the main reasons why I chose not to go into news, but stick with production. When our team shows up, people are almost always happy to see us.

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Rick DolishnyRe: why clients come back - your list
by on Jul 24, 2008 at 5:32:08 am

good points but wow you have a lot of blogs

Rick Dolishny
Discrete Editors COW Leader

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Tim KolbRe: why clients come back - your list
by on Jul 23, 2008 at 2:45:20 pm

Hmmm...since I'm often grouchy, it can't possibly be my pleasant demeanor...

...I'm not anywhere close to the lowest rates in my market (I might be the highest...not sure).

I rarely tell the client what they're hoping to that can't be it...

I guess I'd lay it out like this:

1. The real damn world truth about effective methods and techniques and honest projections about the budget they will require.

2. I will argue with the client if I believe they are making a decision that will hurt them in the long run...even when it might mean I could lose the client if I lose the argument, or I may lose revenue if I win it...

3. 22 years of experience is worth paying for...

4. Less expensive/experienced/obstinate options often aren't...

**Also, I think an important trait is that I have a wide variety of interests and pools of knowledge, which enables a level of intelligent decision-making in crafting messages that saves time and results in a far more effective product than might result from a vendor who's knowledge mass may be somewhat confined to strictly their craft of video/audio/gfx, etc. In the end, the production that any of us do that isn't strict entertainment, needs to accomplish something.

Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,

CPO, Digieffects

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Mark SuszkoRe: why clients come back - your list
by on Jul 23, 2008 at 5:01:50 pm

I can't give a similar list because my situation is a little different from most of you.

My situation is all about the service, we have a base of essentially captive customers that can't afford to take their business outside all that often. We are set up as a centralizied pool AV service for all the agencies, and our "thing" is to make effective, broadcast-quality com solutions that the clients could otherwise never afford to do using private industry suppliers.

My customer problems chiefly revolve about coordinating projects, managing expectations, communicating clearly with people who sometimes have little industry background, and acting as their translator and go-between.

I am the mediator that gives people what they need and want with the technology and budget we have. Personal relationships with these clients are very important, building their trust and helping them make the best decisions along the way when they are not familiar with the process. For those customers that are already up to speed, it is about the most efficient execution of their clear instructions, and being flexible and adaptable to their changing needs.

I'd like to list some blurbs related to service that I've had posted on my desk for many years. Got this on a greeting card made by those "motivational poster" guys, back when that stuff was new and not fodder for internet memes:-)

Anyway, I think these principles still ring true, I act as if they are true:

-It costs six times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an old one. (A corollary to this is, we never have to advertise our services due to word-of mouth and reputation)

-A typical dissatisfied customer will tell 8-10 people about their problem. (I know that I do this as a consumer)

-Seven of ten complaining customers will do business with you AGAIN, if you resolve the complaint in their favor.

-If you resolve a complaint on the spot, 95% will do business again. (This to me suggest that, unless the customer is a known "grinder", smoothing over some situations by applying generous, calculated "discounts" or added-value "comps" is an investment, not an expense.)

-Of those customers who quit, 68% do so because of an attitude of indifference by the company or a specific individual.

How I use those last principles is, if somebody has messed up a project, I will just out and out fess up that mistakes were made, then I tell the client they will not have to face any more run-around: that from here on until this problem is solved to their satisfaction, I am PERSONALLY going to handle this matter for them, I will report to them precisely at such-and-such time... and it is amazing how that little statement of accountability so often deflates a potential explosion.

I know that the thing I hate most as a consumer is being volleyed back and forth between many people, playing phone tage and email tag, none of whom will accept "ownership" of the problem. I don't care who should get blamed, I just want somebody to step up and fix it. I think owning the problem and committing to handling it personally really defuses many bad situations after the initial awkwardness. Customers then judge you by how well you handle the issue, how well you advocate for them.

Sometimes, you can't do much, some situations are beyond a repair. But even then, being timely, clear and up-front with the information, offering options and alternatives or make-goods, or at the very least admitting what went wrong and showing what steps you're taking to never have that happen again... these things offer closure to the problem. They show the customer you are not lying or hiding from them, that you respect their time and trouble. That you are human, people sometimes make mistakes, but that we're committed to doing the best we can. They make a statement about your commitment to excellence and your personal honor, and the honor of your organization.

People can respect that. And I think they respond to it with return business. That's been my experience.

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Larry MeltonRe: why clients come back - your list
by on Jul 28, 2008 at 11:45:03 am

I like your thinking, Mark. About 20 years ago I was doing a "customer service" video for a major manufacturer of window treatments. This was aimed at interior designers who sell their product.

As I listened to the content, many of the nuggets you've shared came up. And from that, I created one of my own: If you have a client that's unhappy, or a mistake has been made, it's imperative to make it right. No matter what it costs - $50 or $5000 dollars - at least you KNOW that's how much it costs. If you don't fix it right and the client shares their dissatisfaction with others, you'll never know how much it cost you.

There are exceptions, because sometimes clients just refuse to be satisfied. Most of us know these clients as grinders, and interestingly, I think if they spread poison about you, there's not much damage done, because most folks recognize them for what they are. That's especially true in smaller or mid-size markets.

Anyway, regarding why clients come back....I'd say the major reason for me is because once they hand off the project, they don't have to deal with it anymore. They know they'll get value for their dollar -
not cheap, not expensive, but a good value for each dollar they spend, whether $2000 or $20,000. My goal is to give the greatest possible value for every dollar that comes through the door. I'd like to say I do it by being smarter, more efficient, or having better technology.

But the truth is most of that value is realized through more hard work on my part. And that formula usually works in any business.


Larry Melton
Triangle Productions Inc

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walter biscardiRe: why clients come back - your list
by on Jul 24, 2008 at 1:08:31 am

My list is just two words. Excellence and Relationships.

We perform our work to the absolute highest standard possible without cutting corners. We work late, we work through weekends, we do whatever we have to do to make sure the client gets the project they need on the deadline they need it. And they sure as heck get it for the promised budget. Our awards speak for themselves as to the quality of our work.

I place a higher value on relationships with clients over money, always have. I firmly believe that if you get the right clients in the door, you build relationships with them and what you might lose on an individual project basis in terms of dollars, will be made up ten fold in the long term. If I don't feel like I can work with a client long term and build a relationship with them, we generally don't do much work with them.

What just happened today is a perfect illustration of building relationships. I've been working with a producer for over two years now and he's never paid full rate. We do approx. 80 news stories per year for him and last year we launched a new documentary series cutting 5 half hour shows. In November of '07 his main client wanted to start releasing our work on BluRay disc, so after researching the high cost of commercial replication, I took the plunge and purchased BluRay software, burners, duplicators, printers and players. We've now produced 8 BluRay disc titles for him and his client. Today we presented a 9 minute documentary short on BluRay disc via DLP HD Projector to the Board of Directors of the Carter Center here in Atlanta. This is a sample of a proposed feature length documentary for 2009 and it's the first time anyone has presented an HD presentation to the Board. In fact we had 20 BluRay discs and 30 DVDs with full four color covers printed and ready to hand out to the board today. On the Board of Directors is the president of a major hollywood studio. Long story short, the presentation was a tremendous hit and we are going to be providing all post production, DVD design, BluRay disc design for three feature length documentaries next year and that is just the beginning. That's one edit suite already fully booked for 12 months in 2009.

It has cost me a lot of money and time these past 2+ years working with this Producer but I believe in what he's producing, the message he wants to get out there and today that hard work paid off huge dividends. It's taken me 8 years to get to what happened today, but that's all a result of the groundwork we laid during that time. Investing in HD when it came along, investing in multiple edit suites as the need arose, investing in the right people to tell the stories and ultimately investing in the well being of our client. I could have easily charged this client double for each project along the way, but ultimately, working together, we've built something neither one of us could have achieved alone.

I'm not saying all clients are worth the time and if they aren't, then why are you working with them?

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

Read my Blog!
View Walter Biscardi's profile on LinkedIn

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Rich RubaschRe: why clients come back - your list
by on Jul 24, 2008 at 2:27:44 am

We have been so slow lately that I almost threw up when I read Walter's post.

Still feel a little queasy.

Damn you, Walter.


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walter biscardiRe: why clients come back - your list
by on Jul 24, 2008 at 10:39:35 am

[Rich Rubasch] "We have been so slow lately that I almost threw up when I read Walter's post. "

Sorry. Everybody in Atlanta has been super busy the past 18 months or so and from what I've heard it's not slowing down all that much.

Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
HD and SD Production for Broadcast and Independent Productions.

Read my Blog!
View Walter Biscardi's profile on LinkedIn

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Jon HornbacherRe: why clients come back - your list
by on Jul 27, 2008 at 2:29:32 pm

Lots of good points have been made on this post -- helpful, so thanks.

Our clients' needs and attitude have much to do with this equation as well. Some of our clients come back to Tilt because we make the process easy. Others come back because they like they like the price. Others because they can appreciate the quality of work. And others because the relationship is so strong (that's always a part of it).

But for all of our clients, I think the ranking of those things is different. The trick, and something we're still figuring out, is to understand which of these things is most important to each of them.

Recently we proposed a solution for a return client that we truly felt was the absolute best way to communicate their message. But we came to find out they didn't WANT the best way to communicate their message, they wanted a cheaper and faster solution because they needed to show Management they were "doing something," and show them quickly. While we were pushing quality of message/work, they wanted only price and short time line.

Jon Hornbacher
Tilt Media

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Timothy J. AllenRe: why clients come back - your list
by on Jul 27, 2008 at 9:24:48 pm

Good points, Jon.
Early in our careers, when we have put so much energy in towards understanding the technical side of things so we can create "art", it can be very difficult to understand that "quality" does not always mean great lighting, crisp audio and the latest graphic styles. It can just as easily mean delivering something less complicated much faster than the competition does.

There is always a balance of priorities for the client and understanding where clients need each product to fit within that triangle of speed, quality and cost is vital.

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Dale DoebertRe: why clients come back - your list
by on Aug 1, 2008 at 1:44:36 pm

These are all great posts. I've enjoyed everyone’s perspective.

I really think the key to having clients return, is figuring out what's important on THEIR list. The list needs to be malleable by each client because they are all different, with different expectations about each project.

With that said, I do know this.

The two biggest things that always play into matter time and money.

If you screw up one of those expectations during the project you’re likely to have that client not return.

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Chris BlairRe: why clients come back - your list
by on Sep 6, 2008 at 4:40:44 am

I'm late to this discussion...but I enjoyed reading all the posts and lists. Ultimately, I think the reasons clients come back is because they get their problem solved (whatever it might be). And as others have pointed out, that "problem" can vary greatly from client to client.

I think Walter came closest to what my general answer would be: excellence and relationships. We get the jobs from the clients we connect with. It doesn't seem to matter how fancy our demo reel is, or how "cool" and comfy our facility might be. The bottom line on most projects is, "do we click with the guy or girl making the decisions." Do we "get" their problem and understand what it is they need to solve it. And finally, can we do it within their budget and time constraints.

I once asked a long-time, very devoted client to rate us. I was shocked at the response. I thought she'd write a glowing review of her experience. Instead, she wrote that early on in the project she was worried, and that she got frustrated at how long the project took to complete (much of which was their fault I might add). She went on to rate our customer service as only average!

Ultimately, she was VERY pleased with the result, but it opened my eyes and made me realize that my perception of our company is far different than that of even one of our best client's!

I always believed we gave GREAT customer service..and we have many clients that tell us that unsolicited. But that doesn't mean that EVERY client believes that. So it was a wake-up call to me to do even better...especially with this client, who is a dream to work with and consistently brings us interesting and unique projects.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN

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