If you’re a long time reader of the blog, you may remember an article I wrote called, “Spend Your Money Where The Service Is”. In the article, I share the annual process I use for evaluating companies I do business with.
For about 3 years now, my dentist of 30 years has rated a 3 on a 5-point satisfaction scale.
As I reflected on my experience over the past few years I realized it wasn’t just one thing that left me dissatisfied. Several little things continued to add up with each visit. Rather than trying to rehash the details, I concluded that the dental practice had simply outgrown my needs and it was time to find and new dentist.
Last week I called Cathie the office manager to get my records. “Can I ask why?” she asked apprehensively. I simply explained that it wasn’t just one thing…it was a lot of little things…and the practice had probably just outgrown my needs. Sounding relieved that I didn’t elaborate she responded with, “Well, we’re not for everyone.”
Yesterday when I went in to pick up the records, I found that the atmosphere, which was once warm and friendly, had suddenly turned cold as ice. There was no chitchat, no eye contact, and not even a hint of indication that they appreciated my business. Within a couple of minutes I was out the door with my records and a quick “Happy New Year!” In the blink of an eye, they lost a 30-year client without even the slightest clue as to what went wrong.
So, how do you say good-bye to a long time customer or client?
Show that you care – Find a way to listen to what’s on your client’s mind.
- Option 1: Always do telephone based, client exit interviews (better yet, do periodic client perception interviews and you may find yourself doing fewer client exit interviews)
- Option 2: Do online client satisfaction surveys
- Option 3: If nothing else, send the client a paper survey to fill out and return
Thank them for their business – Do this no matter how the relationship ends.
- Option 1: Look the client in the eye and say thank you
- Option 2: Tell them over the phone
- Option 3: Send a hand written thank you note
(A thank you note can be added to the first two options as well)
Always leave the door open – After you listen to what’s on your client’s mind and thank them, welcome them back. People do change their minds you know. Make sure they know that you’d love to have them back, in case they should reconsider.
Remember, people (including clients and customers) will often forget what you said or did, but they will always remember how you made them feel. Leave them with a positive impression and it will pay off when they tell other people about the experience.