3 Early Signs Your Client Is Not That Into You
Written by Kimberly MacArthur Graham on September 8, 2015
Client services is a very important aspect of every company. If your client is happy and satisfied with your work and response, then it is a sure way to not only grow your business, but maintain a lasting client relationship. But what happens when the client just isn’t into you?
If you think a client may be looking at other options, it’s probably already too late. Like anyone in a souring relationship, a client will give multiple warning signs before jumping ship – often, before they’re even begun shopping around. They WANT you to see their distress and remedy the situation. And as a business owner or account manager, your survival depends upon it. Here are three early signs that your client’s feelings toward your company are cooling, and how you should respond.
1) They are less responsive.
If a client that used to respond with alacrity suddenly takes a few days to get back to you, take heed. If they used to start conversation with a personal preamble, and now cut straight to business, listen closely. Barring a sudden turn of events that is eating up all their time, this lack of engagement usually precedes a separation. Asking how you can make a process easier for them, or suggesting how you can take on more of the heavy lifting, may open up the conversation you need to discover the root of their dissatisfaction. Often, whether they state it outright or not, their unhappiness stems from a feeling that your company no longer has time for them. Give this feedback to your entire team, along with a refresher on how to deliver gracious service, professional collaboration, and active listening.
2) They start to quibble about – or worse, ignore — your invoices.
If a customer that has always paid on time is now late in remitting, it’s usually a red flag. But even a seemingly innocuous query about your invoicing can be a sign that they’re no longer seeing as much value in what you provide. Perhaps they think they can get equivalent services for less, or better services for the same price. Either way, try to find out what specifically they feel is lacking and commit yourself to providing it. If at all possible, take this a step further and actually increase the value of what you deliver to all your clients.
3) They offer a criticism of one of your employees, partners, or vendors.
If a client tells you that so-and-so disappointed them, listen up! And then fix it. It’s not enough to sympathize; and NEVER take a defensive stance. Make sure you understand their point of view, and offer an appropriate concession. This may mean a small discount or “eating” a ton of billed time. You might have to remove someone from an account (and tell them why), or absorb a vendor’s bill for what the client has deemed a substandard product. If you’re feeling a financial twinge, remember that landing a new account will cost you about 6 times as much as keeping an existing one.
If your client cares enough to let you know they’re unhappy, give them the attention they deserve and then: THANK THEM! That’s right. Most businesses hear from only about 4% of their dissatisfied customers, so even the harshest criticism is a gift and an opportunity. If you handle the recovery well, they may become an even stronger brand advocate. More importantly, though, you have gained valuable insight on the obstacles you must overcome to keep your business thriving.
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