Attracting & Retaining Clients for Service Providers

“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realise it themselves.”

Steve Jobs (Wisdom Quotes)

Without customers, a business would cease to exist, so how do we go about attracting this heart and soul of our business? Then once we have piqued their interest, how do we retain them long-term? In theory, it’s a simple equation, entice them to use your service, then make them use your service again, but in reality, it’s far from that easy.

The key lays in 2 principal aspects, both of which contain fixed fundamentals, but differ in implementation for each business: 

1) Targeting the ‘correct’ audience

2) Consistently delivering ‘value’


It comes as part and parcel that if you attract the right target audience, your product will fulfil their needs and create a bond naturally. One of the most effective ways to attract the correct audience is to apply the Top-Down Funnel Approach: A large opening at the top to draw in ‘potential’ customers through marketing and social media, then as you travel down the narrowing funnel, you align your communication at each subsequent stage to weed out irrelevant prospects, eventually concentrating the ‘hard sell’ at the narrowest point of the bottom, here you will find your true target audience, ready to be converted into customers. 


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Through incisive market research, you can develop a deep understanding of your target audience, in a bid to anticipate and satisfy their needs by becoming the solution they are seeking, this is a valuable component of an effective funnel approach, preventing miscommunication through the stages. 


Having established a connection to your ‘target audience’, the next step is customer retention, this also indicates customer satisfaction. Customer retention can sometimes form naturally out of convenience, but most often it is earned through exceeding service expectations, some examples include superior quality over competitors, competitive prices, and loyalty rewards. But one of the easiest and most effective customer retention methods remains a courtesy follow-up, a simple value-adding phone call or email to understand the service, then either receive positive feedback or rectify unsatisfied customers.

A useful tool to measure and manage customer retention is the faithful CRM (see our article on Improving Efficiency), this also identifies the churn rate of one-time customers, indicating a problem to address. Through efficient management and successful retention of your customers, you can expand profitability through upselling other services provided, or organically through customer referrals, all supporting steady business growth. 


The primary objective for service providers is customer satisfaction, this creates great importance on identifying and fulfilling their needs. Attracting customers comes in many forms, with countless new customers on the horizon, but the lifeline for survive long-term is through customer retention, understanding, nurturing, and consistently delivering to your customers. 


3 Tools for Service Providers to Improve Efficiency

The arsenal of tools at our disposal determines the output deliverable to customers, without whom we have no purpose. Service providers are faced with countless tools such as A.I. technology, automation, and cloud-based networks, but which tools are simply fads, and which genuinely improve efficiency?

Unlike product orientated businesses which require tools for manufacturing and testing, service providers are orientated around intangible products, facilitating their network by delivering a trade, ranging from knowledge through to solutions, delivered by the likes of teachers, cleaners, or I.T. technicians to name a few.
A lack of physical product creates the challenge of tracking and managing a service, this is where the tools come into play.

Recommended tools

1) Customer Relation Management software (CRM)
A fundamental tool for improving efficiency is a solid customer relationship management tool. CRM software such as ‘Monday’, enables capturing and organisation of contacts, to build and nurture relationships through features including data tracking, remote connectivity, and automation, creating a deeper understanding to better serve their needs.

2) Project Management software
Digital task management is without a doubt, incomparable to traditional paperwork, save yourself time and money by tracking your business and employee’s data electronically.
With a plethora of management tools available online such as ‘Evernote’ and ‘Trello’, you are sure to find one suited to your needs, however basic or complex, whether free or expensive. So set yourself reminders, automate mundane tasks, analyse data for improvements, and assign tasks to individuals.

3) Social Media Scheduling software
Once your project tasks have been managed, you can divert your attention to social media and build your customer base, and as with project management software, automation can be applied through to social media scheduling tools such as ‘Mailchimp’ and ‘Hootsuite’.
A healthy social media presence won’t go unnoticed, with every post published, you are improving your odds of staying top of mind, if you’re not present, your absent, simple.
Social media interaction is a sure-fire way of converting your platform into an active discussion hub, your network collectively communicating will reveal insightful knowledge which can be used to improve customer service.

Other possibilities…

Smartphone Applications (if applicable)
Our smartphones dependency makes expansion into apps a great opportunity to improve efficiency. Apps, can establish a direct channel to customers, improve communication, and track real-time services. Based upon the complexity of the app, it can be basic, used simply to share information/promotions and create bookings, or it can be advanced, offering integrated tracking functions and management control. The added benefit of this tool is effective customer retention.

Web-Based Administration Portal
Service providers are required to juggle numerous customers at any given time, a tool to improve efficiency would be a portal to manage multiple unrelated services in real-time, with the ability to modify and reallocate tasks within a single dashboard.

To round up

The tools identified each play a considerable role in improving efficiency for service provider’s, so I suggest implementing these tools if not already in place.
There are plentiful tools out there, some serving specialist purposes, others catering to a buffet of tasks. There is no ‘best’ tool for the job, it is based on your requirements, but even then, it’s each to their own taste, so make use of free trials, that’s what they are there for.

It would be great to hear back from you on which software options you chose, how effective they were in improving your efficiency and would you suggest any additional tools not mentioned, so feel free to share your experiences.

An article by Gautam Gajjar.


The Impact of Covid-19 on the MICE Industry

The thought of easing UAE’s Covid restrictions is a daunting concept for some, but the announcement from Dubai Tourism, to trial the reopening of social events and increased capacity weddings & hotels, comes as music to the ears of others, particularly the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions (MICE) industry, who have been severely impacted by the restrictions.

When your industry revolves around assembling talent and hospitality, grounding movement of people and restricting gatherings are problematic to put it lightly, however, this was the disruptive fate of the MICE industry.

The implementation of restrictions 

The desirable luxury and services offered in the UAE are highly sought after, attracting local and international clients alike to this state-of-the-art events destination hub. However, the recent disruption of trade created a devastating void for the MICE industry, who having relied on the arrangement with the unique city and desert venues, was left helpless amid social distancing and travel bans. Eventually, this industry devastation led to financial and employment instability.

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The shutdown of conferences, weddings, and social events resulted in postponing or cancellation of bookings, many of which never re-booked, many hosts eventually required dipping into reserve funds to stay afloat. 

Possible solutions…

In some cases, workarounds were possible, and even effective, such as cloud-based video conferences, or virtual concerts such as ‘United at Home’, the iconic gig which aired live from Burj Al Arab Hotel’s helipad as highlighted by EDM. These alternative approaches were instrumental in survival for some businesses but not feasible for others, namely weddings, requiring a physical presence, so had no contingencies and were amongst the worst affected.

The dilemma now is, with the downscaling witnessed during the restrictions, could the future of weddings and other events remain smaller, low-key functions? Could meetings remain virtual? These would have drastic consequences on the industry’s profitability.

While the recent vaccination rollout and introduction of so-called vaccine passports offer businesses some assurance, it has not yet transpired into a reliable holistic development. Locally in the UAE, things appear to be moving in the right direction, unfortunately, global regulations differ from each country, creating conflicts and continuing travel limitations, therefore regaining international strength is still challenging.

The future outlook

The UAE’s strong reaction to the pandemic, with early preventative measures, is now being rewarded, their operational position today is amongst the best in the world. This regained strength in the UAE’s economy plays directly into the hands of the MICE industry, now realigned to the current conditional expectations and ready to deliver safe, secure, and reliable hospitality with every stage of lifted restrictions.  

Positively, the knowledge gained through this experience has pushed many to adapt to this new age, through forward-thinking solutions and digital innovations, for example, ‘IBTM Wired’ will be hosting their inaugural virtual industry event online, catering to those who are unable or apprehensive of non-essential travel. Closer to home, the UAE has its sights set on the 2021 Dubai Expo, continuing to lay down solid foundations in preparation for the boom in the MICE industry in the run-up to the anticipated event.


Despite this turmoil the MICE industry has endured, there is light at the end of the tunnel! These fading restrictions suggest a ‘modern version’ of normality is not far away. This continued forward momentum can potentially create a busy summer for the MICE industry, don’t you think?

If you have been affected or similarly impacted by the topic discussed, we would love to hear from you and understand the actions you chose to respond with, so please reach out or comment. You can also follow us for further market insights and discussions.

An article by Gautam Gajjar.


The Service Market: Not Quite a Level Playing Field

The service market plays a large role in the economy, Dubai Statistics Center identified services contributed a healthy portion of UAE’s GDP in the first quarter of 2020, before the pandemic hit us. Since then, the service market has faced challenges just like other industries, some were prepared, but others not so much… 

Pockets of the tertiary industry have implemented radical game-changing developments in the past 3 years, some entities moved paperless for efficiency, accuracy, and environmental sustainability, whilst some FinTech and Telecoms forewent retail branches so no more standing in line, thank you Liv. by Emirates NBD and Virgin Mobile, what a result!

But, despite all the AI and automation advances, many niches face service-level challenges and stay stagnant, will they remain relevant and competitive post-crisis? 

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

In part, outdated tools are the cause, many businesses remain in their comfort zone, using traditional processes, which now are ineffective, often require additional ‘workarounds’, consuming time and money, lacking real-time operations, and unable to handle multiple moving parts. Then you have the age-old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach, which yes, maybe the system works, but could be drastically revolutionised to remain viable in this age. 

Since the basic Excel CRMs days, cutting-edge tech has innovated the process tenfold, reducing time, improving UX, and consolidating tasks to meet end-to-end experiences. We are beyond the juncture where the traditional remains effective, nowadays competitive means progressive adaption.

One such severely affected service niches was photography. Whilst photography equipment constantly developed, the client sourcing method remains as it did 20 years ago, through word-of-mouth, recently supported somewhat by social media. Those lenses don’t come cheap, so finding quality clientele is critical for this market. 

A blue and white brick wall

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On the other end of the spectrum, Apple in the I.T. sector is storming ahead, reimagining the way technology is used, always staying ahead of the curve, and setting new benchmarks. This has been achieved through ingenuity and forward-thinking, creating a solution that customers want, through elaborate consumer insights. 

Now, the service market consists of many functions and trades, so cannot conform to a definite benchmark, but regardless of your business goals, some points remain consistent for all service market niches to step up their game which includes:

  • As fitness fanatics say, “Core is king”, and rightly so, a solid foundation stabilises a stronger frame, so if your existing CRM is not up to scratch, replace it!
  • There is a plethora of automation tech available, capable of heavily reducing many manual tasks, use this efficiency to improve workflow and fulfil demands.
  • Cloud-based platforms have revolutionised the accessibility of data, so incorporate this breakthrough with accurate, real-time functionality on smartphone devices.
  • Exploit consumer insights, analytics work so make it count, period! Understand their real needs and values to fully deliver the quality service they want.

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To sum it up

For the suffering service market segments, radical rejuvenation and industry ‘catch-up’ are fundamental for survival. The stragglers in question require the incorporation of readily available tech of CRM and cloud platforms to remain competitive, sustainable, and profitable, otherwise, risk becoming obsolete. Exploit the digital tools at your disposal, provide intelligent and evolving solutions.

Do you believe the future will steer into another direction? Perhaps something which already exists but nobody has considered yet? I will gladly discuss your insights on the topic, just reach out with your thoughts. 

An article by Gautam Gajjar.


The Rise & Demand for Freelancers within the Region

Of late, the employment front has noticeably shifted towards the fitting gig economy, supported by businesses’ reluctance towards permanent contracts following the pandemic disruption.

This has spawned the growth of independents, offering diverse skills such as business development, consultation, and coaching. The Global Innovation Index identifies the UAE, for the 5th time, as the leading environment for innovation in the Arab World, it is no coincidence a freelancer demand grows alongside this accolade.

Where did all the freelancers come from?

Covid saw many businesses in Dubai downsize, shift to hotdesking or working from home, ultimately requiring fewer contracted employees who were often older, more experienced candidates. With fewer secure opportunities and increased disposable time, entrepreneurs took advantage of the situation. Backed by technological capabilities, coinciding with the requirement for innovation, these empowered individuals possessing the desired skills, backed by available resources (sometimes simply a laptop), gained control and began offering their services, with a greater work/life balance and the freedom to choose for passion or finance. 

Why the demand? 

As the UAE’s journey towards their “vision of the future”, the necessity for skilled individuals such as architects, engineers, and teachers has never been greater. 

Traditionally, SMEs faced extensive and costly employee training, with an uncertainty of commitment. Nowadays, availability and negotiable fees make the most viable option, with skilled workers accessible for fixed duration and cost.

What about long-term employees?

Freelancers are often considered financially driven, offering a one-size-fits-all product. By contrastemployees with sick/holiday pay and pension plan benefits hold a vested interest in the business, delivering with long-term business goal alignment. It can however be argued that motivation fluctuates in long-term employees, and constant ‘bonuses’ are required to maintain commitment, questioning the integrity of their effort.

Freelance or not…

The potential for freelancers is vast, not to mention a convenient tool to utilise, although not without their limitations to your core business values. Could the freelance-driven approach be the best way forward? A hand-picked talent for each project based on the required skillsets. Or will the dedication and insights of contracted employees trump their ‘convenient’ counterpart? 

An article by Gautam Gajjar.