Business Management – Don’t be rude to clients leaving you

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This is another installment of my Business Management posts, geared towards those of us who are business owners and/or consultants.

None of us like to fail. None of us like it when others don’t appreciate our hard work. None of us like facing the worst consequences of our mistakes (and we all make mistakes at some point). Despite all this, there will come a time when we need to deal with a bad situation. For those us who are business owners, like myself, one of the worst types of situations you can find yourself in is losing a client.

Losing a client is something none of us wants and none of us expects. But, it WILL happen. This is important to keep in mind, and while you build your business and are expecting to grow your client base, you still have to come to the realization that clients will leave you. Obviously you don’t want this number to be high (it’s called “churn” in the marketing world). If you sign 10 new clients, you don’t want to lose 5 existing ones. That level of churn isn’t healthy. In any case, we need to prepare for churn and accept it.

This goes into the more important discussion of what to do when we lose clients. The vast majority of other businesses I’ve seen in the technology support industry handle this situation poorly. They get angry, resentful, and they don’t want to assist the new contractor / company that’s being brought on to replace them. I’ve had other support companies refuse to give me administrator passwords to servers (and of course the client had never been provided with them either). I’ve had other support companies purposely disable network services before turning over control of it. I’ve had other support companies simply stop taking calls from the client as well as me, and I’ve been left spending time figuring out everything that’s going on.

This is NOT the way to handle clients who are leaving you. Acting in this manner only enrages people, makes them feel betrayed, and most importantly, will give them a reason to make an effort to speak poorly of you. A client who’s been burned by you is going to tell everything they can find and see what they think of you and your business. That’s never a good thing, and it can cost you later on. I live in a smaller city, so this is amplified about a 100-fold, and I’ve experienced it numerous times now (from other providers who act irrationally with knee-jerk reactions).

The moral of this post is to keep one thing in mind at all times. Whether a client is leaving you, voicing displeasure or talking about utilizing someone else’s services, always be professional. Do not be rude. Do not be angry. Do not ‘get revenge’. Do not think that you’re going to have the last word. Do not think that you have any real ability to ‘show that client they’re going to be sorry’. Be professional, be courteous, and be prepared for these types of situations. How you handle them speaks volumes about you and your business, and can absolutely impact your future opportunities.

Author

Martin Lehner

Martin Lehner is an technology professional working for an IT services firm in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). He has been working in the technology field for over a decade. With a degree in Business Admin and numerous industry certifications, Martin leads a team of IT professionals that provide third party support for clients. Originally starting a company to offer web development services, Martin quickly realized that clients wanted the entire spectrum of technology services. When Martin is not at work (which is not often, since his company offers 24/7 support), he is busy at home spending time with his family.

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