Interview that Departing Client

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We all have employees part ways with our businesses one time or another.

If you are smart, you take them out for a private lunch in their last week, and undertake an informal ‘exit interview’. Question them on why they are leaving, what would have made them stay, what they liked least about their role, and what they liked the most. I’ve been doing this for a few years now, and find it invaluable: people who are leaving have no reasons not to be honest, and they give great feedback.

So why aren’t many of us even smarter and doing the same with clients when they leave us?

Hopefully, your client retention rate is high, and you don’t lose many clients in an average year. However, most businesses have that gradual churn, which I believe is healthy–if you kept 100% of your clients, how would your business evolve?

I recently found out an old client of ours had engaged another agency. I was burning to know why. So I picked up the phone and called. I arranged to meet my contact for a coffee and chat, and what an invaluable half hour that was! I found out that we were doing a fantastic job–awesome to hear! Why they were leaving turns out that their new marketing manager had a prior relationship with another firm.

We should have known they had a new marketing manager, and we should have been out to meet with her. We didn’t know, so we didn’t act, so we lost their work.

It’s actually probably a good thing in the longer term–however it’s always a bit humbling when a client leaves.

The trick is to ask them to meet with you and find out why–it cost me half an hour and two coffees–a very small investment for such valuable learning.

Next time you find out a client is leaving, find out why–it’ll quite possibly be for a different reason than you might imagine.

Miles BurkeMiles Burke
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As Director of Bam Creative, and Chairperson of the Australian Web Industry Association, Miles spends his time managing his business or speaking about managing businesses. Recently awarded as one of the top Western Australian entrepreneurs under 40 years old, Miles can also be found writing at his blog.

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