You’re Gonna Lose A Client
I never lose a client. Ummmm, yeah. Much to our chagrin, we all lose clients. They leave for a variety of reasons. Some of which we can understand: management change, internal employee adjustments, budget cutting, etc. The ones that really chap our hide are losing a client because of our mistakes, lack of oversight or poor service. Even the best of businesses have this happen, but most won’t admit it…at least not publicly.
I understand not broadcasting to the public, the media, your client base or potential clients that you messed up and lost a client. That isn’t something that helps build your brand image, win potential clients or promote your service or products. The most important aspect of losing a client is evaluating what you did wrong.
I have lost clients, most to unforeseen and unpredictable circumstances, but one or two through my own mistakes. One of these was early in my career, but I hope my story can help others to not make the same mistake I have.
The majority of my clients are small businesses, so they rely on me to give them guidance and expertise in the marketing field. Although some are well versed in marketing and may have a grasp on basic concepts, a thorough understanding of the field just isn’t plausible since small business owners have so many different roles and responsibilities. With this particular client, I assumed (and assumptions are enormous mistakes by themselves) they were happy with our marketing communications plan that we had laid out for the fiscal year. This drove me to become lackadaisical in the management of this account. I assumed (again, huge mistake) that the personal interaction that builds rapport and relationships in my business could be substituted with electronic communication and the occasional phone call. While I was happy with the ease in which I could manage this account, there was a competitor in my client’s ear on a regular basis, which helped them provide the client with that guidance that I wasn’t providing.
Once I was informed of my client’s decision to change, I was really personally hurt. I had come to think of them as not just clients, but friends. After further reflection of the situation, I was more hurt that I had dropped the ball more than anything else. I had taken for granted that my client will always be there and they were happy with my level of service. Apparently, that wasn’t the case.
So, after this very powerful and embarrassing learning experience, one of the lessons going forward is personal management of my clients is crucial to a long and fruitful relationship. In addition, I know now that if I am not in my clients’ ear…someone else is.