“The day you sign a client is the day you start losing him” – Don Draper, Mad Men.
It’s amazing how many businesses will lose a client and say, “We’ll chalk this up a to lesson.” And yet don’t actually learn anything from it.
Lost accounts and departing clients are, in fact, a rare opportunity you must take advantage of. If you properly leverage their feedback, you could have the ammunition to land 5 more clients in their place.
How do you look past the hurt feelings to find the painful lesson? Follow these steps.
Listen to the Exact Words They Use
This could be the best chance you ever get to get a completely unfiltered account of how someone feels about your business.
Keep a record of every word they used. Of course, you’re going to make sure each respective department gets the feedback. If there was a problem with on-boarding, your customer service team needs to know about it.
However, take things to the next level and use their feedback as a way to improve your sales and marketing materials. First of all, their feedback may tell you that they were never actually in your target market or any of your customer personas, and that you may need to define those a bit better.
Tap Into Their Pain Points
These words come directly from a pain point and the customer is telling you exactly what they wanted from you. If you did not deliver, that’s unfortunate, but you may now have more insights into exactly what they want(ed).
Make sure your marketing team is meeting with your sales team frequently to discuss why the sales team is closing deals and why they are losing deals. This can create more targeted messaging.
Take their words and use them to craft better branding messages in your sales materials, online and off. If they use the words “frustrating on-boarding process,” fix the problem in your process, and then make sure your marketing materials have something about avoiding a frustrating on-boarding process.
This can help you create a list of keywords that you want to use in your marketing materials and on social media.
Learn What “The Other Guys” are Doing Better
If a client is leaving you for a competitor, it may sting. But you can’t ignore the fact that your competition has created the idea that this customer would be better off with them. Why was that? Are they cheaper, better, or faster?
Pay close attention to what lured your customer away because it may uncover some false assumptions that you have about what they want. Maybe the price is a dealbreaker for them after all. Or maybe your competition has created the impression that their offering is simply better.
Are they actually better than you? If they’re not, how are they getting customers to perceive things that way? Study their messaging and their offer, because something is resonating that you need to be aware of.
Have a Blameless Post-Mortem
The bigger the client was, the more impassioned the finger-pointing can be at a post-mortem with your staff. It can very easily become:
“You were late on the deliverables almost every month!”
“Yeah, well you over promised!”
This isn’t going to get you anywhere. Instead, stress to everyone in the room that you’re not trying to find fault, you’re trying to find new opportunities for strength.
Make sure you don’t leave until you have actionable steps. You need something to build on, or it’s all just a waste of time that will poison morale.
Whatever you do, don’t just hang your head on a difficult Friday and then go into your next pitch meeting on Monday with the exact same approach and mentality.