The Unexpected Reason We Lose Clients
Not long after signing a new client, my team and I did a free presentation for their employees. I received fabulous feedback from my contact at the company, who said that it was exactly what they wanted. My team and I were very pleased.
Two days later, I got an email from someone higher up in the company’s chain of command saying the exact opposite: We didn’t deliver what they expected. And just like that, the satisfaction of a job well done quickly evaporated.
My first instinct was to be defensive. I wanted to fire off an email saying that we had given them exactly what we promised and that the staff was incredibly pleased with the presentation. Instead, I apologized to the client, saying that I was sorry that they were disappointed and didn’t receive what they had hoped for.
When my staff heard how I decided to respond, they were upset that I hadn’t stood up for myself and for my team. It might have felt good at the time to do just that, but I also knew it would have been the wrong move. Often when someone, especially a client, is dissatisfied, they likely want an apology, not an explanation. So I gave them an apology, and instead of being defensive, channeled my energy into where we missed the mark and how we could have done better.
All companies — including my own, Balancing Life’s Issues — share the same goal. We’re all in the business of keeping our clients happy, whether they’ve been with us for many years or just recently signed on the dotted line. According to the most recent research, it’s six to seven times more expensive to find new customers than to retain the ones you have.
All of our clients are important, but we don’t always treat them like they are. So many of us focus on our top clients, the ones who bring in the most money, and we switch to autopilot with the rest. That’s no way to run a business.
It reminds me of our educational system, another institution where there needs to be a complete overhaul. The best students are lavished with attention, as are those at the bottom who are struggling. But the students in the middle, those with a solid B average, are pretty much ignored. It’s a messed up system.
There’s a saying that satisfaction is your best advertising. But unsatisfied ones — the ones who feel ignored or, even worse, reach out with questions about their account and are given the bare minimum of attention — hurt your reputation. According to Ali Cudby, the bestselling author of Keep Your Customers: How to Stop Customer Turnover, Improve Retention, and Get Lucrative, Long-Term Loyalty, unsatisfied “make a point of telling other people about their bad experience with you.”
“Unhappy people hit companies over and over again by sharing their stories,” she says. “A great experience is the best way to prevent turnover and cultivate long-term loyalty.”
And you shouldn’t just assume that your clients feel valued or taken care of because they haven’t complained. Reach out to them first. Below are some tips on how to proactively show them that you have their best interests in mind.
Deliver what you promise. The best way to retain clients is to live up to your promises. If you deliver excellent customer service, clients will stick with you. A survey of 10,000 consumers showed that even when a company makes a mistake, 75% of them will overlook it if the customer service is consistently good.
Don’t wait for feedback. I don’t wait for clients to come to me with problems. I make sure that me or someone on my staff reaches out to them on a regular basis to make sure everything is going well. We’re constantly asking them for suggestions on how we can improve and are 100% open to constructive feedback.
Keep in touch. Using social media is an inexpensive way to keep in contact with clients. They will be pleased that you sent them a note on their birthday or some other milestone in their life. And when I see a client post about a death in the family, I send them a book that means a lot to me called: I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One.
Show your appreciation. Want to let a client know how much you value their business? Send a box of healthy snacks or wellness products from Caroo. Deliver a quick thank you with an app called Thnks. It can bring them everything from a cup of coffee to an Uber ride. A little something extra to show how much you care about them really goes a long way.
Go the extra mile. Think of this as “giving them an extra scoop of ice cream.” Go above and beyond what you think of as 100% for your clients. I can promise you, it won’t go unnoticed.
I’d love to hear some of your ideas as well. How have you shown your clients that you appreciate them? What actions worked best for you? And how did your clients respond?
The negative feedback that I got from my new client years ago was a wakeup call for me, and it should be for all of us. We all need to pay attention to the needs of all of our clients, no matter how big or small they happen to be. It’s not just good for business. It’s the right thing to do.
I love this, Wendy. I worked with my husband a bit in our bars and restaurants. He repeatedly reminded our staff that the customer who complains was doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to fix things. Like you mentioned, an unhappy customer is going to tell many people how unhappy they were, a satisfied customer might return, but never tell a soul how happy they were.