When Clients Leave

Posted on Apr 18, 2016
When Clients Leave

It can be very disheartening when clients leave your business, especially when they’ve been with you for a long time.

It’s also hard not to take it personally, even if there is a very good reason why they are leaving. So what do you do when a client decides they no longer need your service and/or product?

In the same way you impressed them at the start, use this as your opportunity to leave a lasting and positive impression. This will improve the chances of them coming back (if they need you again in the future) and encourage them to promote your business to others.

There are some things you can do to WOW them when they leave but firstly let’s discuss why they leave:

The sales process has naturally come to an end
With a number of services and products there comes a time when there’s nothing further you can assist with. For example, once a baby has grown up parents have little need to visit a baby shop. As you know, this is why it’s important to have a process for generating new clients (when the previous ones move on). In addition to marketing strategies, make sure you also have an ongoing process to collect testimonials and online reviews. This will ensure that your past client’s positive comments continue to work at promoting your business, even after they have left. And remember if they have been pleased with your service and are now moving on, it means you have done your job well, so it’s time to give yourself a pat on the back too!

They no longer need your service and/or product
Sometimes a client’s circumstances change (from financial considerations to simply moving location). It’s important to remember in this situation that their leaving is something outside of your control and not a negative reflection on your business. Concentrate instead on finding new clients to replace them.

They’ve seen something else new and shiny
No matter how well you look after a client, sometimes they decide to go elsewhere due to personal preferences or simply because they’ve found something new. Additionally they may be influenced by their peers or friends into making a change. Again this isn’t something you can always control and not a negative reflection on your business. However, it is always a prompt to double check your interactions with them to be sure you haven’t missed something. In cases like this you may seek feedback from them directly and if they are unsubscribing from your mailing list, you can use an automated survey form to seek their reason for leaving. Asking for feedback at this time can highlight any issues (and possibly a chance to win them back) or simply confirm there is nothing else you could have done (which is also good to know!).

They didn’t have a favourable experience
Not all clients will let you know when they’ve had a bad experience, some will simply leave. However, when a client leaves and you don’t know the reason, it’s time to find out what their experience has been. Depending on the nature of your relationship, this may be a phone call or an email or a quick feedback form. However, whatever process you choose, it should always start with a thank you for their past business as well as immediate action on any issues they highlight.

How to WOW them when they leave:

Depending on the nature of your relationship (and their circumstances for leaving) there are a number of ways you can ensure that you create a lasting positive impression of your business.

Send a thank you note
A thank you (whether it’s an email or a handwritten message) is always a nice touch. Sometimes clients can feel like they are letting you down when they leave (even if there is a good reason for it and especially when they have been happy with your service). Make sure it’s clear that you understand, that you appreciate their past business and they are welcome back anytime.

Customise your unsubscribe message
Most database systems have automated unsubscribe messages but making it a little more personal and friendly, adding a thank you for their past business and letting them know they are welcome back anytime, sends a better message than the generic version. Ensuring that your unsubscribe process is simple and doesn’t require filling in multiple forms, is also important if you are to leave them with the impression that your business is professional and a pleasure to deal with.

Seek feedback
When you are unaware of their reasons for leaving, seek feedback to clarify this and address any issues that have occurred (for them personally as well as preventing the same situation occurring in the future). Make sure you act on any issues immediately and keep them informed throughout the process. Clients who are already upset at how they have been handled, will understandably be extra sensitive to any further issues (which can compound their already negative impression of your business).

If they have been happy with your business (and you haven’t already received one) use this as an opportunity to seek a testimonial or prompt them to do a online review. Additionally you may like to ask one very important question – “What else could we have done or have provided that would have been helpful?” Clients see your business in a different light and may highlight something very useful as a result – they will also appreciate being asked.

Let them go
Once they’ve made their decision to leave and you have checked that there are no issues to address, concentrate on making the leaving process easy. Whilst you might want to hang onto them as long as possible, be aware that making this process difficult will only reflect negatively on your business. Instead, allow them to leave without feeling that they’ve let you down and they won’t feel awkward about returning in the future. Again thank them for their business, let them know you have appreciated their support and encourage them to stay in touch or come back again in
the future.

No matter how disappointed you are at a client leaving, don’t let this influence the way in which you handle them. Instead seek to identify, address and correct any issues, collect their valuable feedback and aim to make their leaving as good an experience as their joining. Do this and they will likely return again in the future and bring their friends.