The Warning Signs a Client May Leave

by John Cheney Workbooks Online

Acquiring a new customer can cost up to five times more than retaining an existing customer. So what are the signs to look out for to avoid a client suddenly cancelling their long-standing relationship with you?

Perhaps it is already too late and the damage has already been done. The client may have had enough of your services – or have found an offer from another firm too difficult to resist – but if you are aware of the signs, at least you’re on the front foot and can try and do something about it.

There are classic behaviours that clients display when they are cooling off and it is in your interest to know what to look for. If you are able to identify that behaviour and track patterns, there might – just might – be something you can do to bring them back on side.

Sign One: Changes in Invoicing Behaviour

In your teary state, you might look back over invoicing history to see if there was any sign the relationship was going wrong. You might notice there had been a gradual decline in invoicing levels – a cancellation of one service here, a decline in another there. If you had been able to spot this at the time, you might have been able to turn things around.

Sign Two: Won’t Return Your Calls

Not answering your calls, finding it difficult to pin them down for meetings. From an account management point of view, if you see a client’s behaviour is colder towards you than it was in the same period last year, it could be a sign they are preparing to break up. Having definitive touch points and tracking client communications will help you to recognise any cooling in their behaviour towards you.

Sign Three: Change in Personality

You might find that your client has changed over this past year. I mean, really changed. You had been dealing with John the old CFO for years, but now Laura has come on board and she could have pet firms she would like to replace your company with. Identifying changes in personnel and doing what you can to build new bridges with them will stand you in good stead.

These are all signs that you are experiencing client ‘drift.’ In isolation, these signs might not mean that much, but all of them combined should ring alarm bells. The problem is, without a system in place to identify these red flags and relying on a feeling that the account person dealing with the client might have (or not if they have a heavy work load), then you are acting in the dark.