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September 10, 2019 Adrian Zee

What to do when a client decides to move on

What to do when a client doesn't want your services any more, and how to prevent that from happening again.

One of your clients has decided to leave. What do you do now? 

If you’re a small business, this may have a serious impact on your revenue. But it’s important to not panic. You might be tempted to go off about how horrible the client was and how you’re glad that they’re leaving. But this is a moment to leave your ego at the door and to reflect.

This article explains the next steps to take once a client no longer wants your services and what you can do to prevent this situation from happening again. 

Now what?

Once you’ve been notified that a client is leaving, it’s important to communicate with them. Whether this is a phone call or an email, you should confirm the situation, express your disappointment, and most importantly, ask why

Knowing why they’re leaving is important for two reasons. First, it provides an opportunity for you to solve any issues they may have. It’s possible they’re leaving for a reason that could be easily rectified. Second, it lets you know how to do better next time. You don’t want to make a similar mistake and lose another client. 

If the client decides to still leave, do everything you can to make the transition as easy as possible. Again, leave your ego at the door and provide them with any reasonable requests. You may even recommend a different service supplier. The goal is to not burn any bridges — make sure they think highly of your company as they leave.

Next, work out details such as final payments, who owns what collateral and data, and how much longer you’ll support the client. You don’t want to scramble about these things when they come up, so make sure to preemptively take care of them. These details should ideally be written in a contract and signed by both parties. 

Lastly, it’s good to stay in touch. Maybe the client will realize that the grass is not actually greener on the other side and that they want to reactivate their account with you. Staying in touch could include sending them occasional updates that are relevant to them or sending seasonal greeting cards. 

Are you focusing on customer retention?

One survey from Invespcro found that it costs five times more to attract a new customer/client than to keep an old one. Another research study found that by increasing customer retention by as little as 5 percent, a business can increase profits by as much as 95 percent!

As a small business, growth can be addicting, which puts client acquisition ahead of client retention. The survey from Invespcro also found that 44 percent of companies have a greater focus on customer acquisition while only 18 percent focus more on retention. 

While it may feel great to bring another whale into your client list, retaining your current clients should be a bigger priority. By focusing on a low turnover rate, your business can see much better financials. Even if you’re gaining a lot of new clients, the last thing you want is all your clients leaving. 

So what does better customer retention look like? This could include hiring more employees to focus on client needs and to set reasonable expectations. If account managers deal with too many clients at once, they aren’t able to provide quality service. Small mistakes like typos or tardiness can build up to a poor customer relationship, and these things run rampant once employees have to juggle too many clients and rush their work.  

Providing client resources is also another important investment for client retention. If you’re selling a product, making sure that the client knows how to use all the features will result in a happier client. It’s also good to know that people are using your product to its fullest. This involves education through training classes, video tutorials, and much more. 

When a client decides to move on, take it as a lesson. Make sure keep in touch and to reflect on any mistakes that were made. This situation is an opportunity to improve for the future.

Adrian Zee

Adrian Zee is a freelance writer and a student at Osgoode Hall Law School. Previously, he studied management and writing at Western University and worked in the data & analytics industry. Adrian is also a part-time food writer and photographer at DailyHive/DishedTO.