In an episode of Mad Men, Don Draper and Roger Sterling both responded to the loss of a client by saying, “The day you sign a client is the day you start losing them.” While I don’t share their negative attitude about client retention, I also understanding that losing clients is an unavoidable part of running a business. Even if you’re always on you’re A-game and always going above and beyond to exceed expectations, you will still lose customers. It’s just the way it is.
So, the question then becomes, what do you do when you lose a client? Here are some tips to guide you through this challenging time.
- Speak with the client—If at all possible, get a meeting with the defecting client. Try to find out exactly why they are leaving you (this may take some digging; oftentimes, clients hide the truth) and if there is anything you can do to win them back, whether that’s right now or at some point in the future.
- Identify where you went wrong—You must see this as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and avoid them in the future. Take the client’s feedback and do your own analysis to figure out exactly where things went wrong in the relationship. When a client leaves you, it’s usually not a snap decision. It’s usually something that builds up over time, so if you can identify your mistakes, you can avoid them in the future and also watch for the warning signs of a client’s departure.
- Assess the financial impact—Not all clients are the same. Some losses will be great; others might not really matter all that much. You need to assess the financial impact of the client’s departure immediately. Will the loss have a major impact on profitability and cash flow?
- Find short-term fixes while creating long-term solutions—If the loss of a client creates a major impact on profitability and cash flow, you need to start finding solutions to reduce the fallout immediately. This may mean identifying some short-term fixes while you’re working on a better long-term solution. You may need to cut back spending temporarily, run a promotion to generate cash flow, or take on clients that aren’t necessarily your dream clients just so you can keep your business running.
- Contact other clients—Now is the time to make sure your relationships with your other clients are still okay. You can’t afford to lose another client at this precarious moment.
- Get new clients fast—You can’t afford to wait for new business to come rolling in. You have to generate it yourself, and you have to do it fast. Ask for referrals, pump up your PPC campaign, do some cold calling…do whatever it takes to get new business fast.
What are your tips for responding to the loss of a client?