So, let’s just talk about it right here on the website. We recently lost a client. It was our fault. I wish I could call it a comedy of errors, but there was nothing funny about it. Our processes broke down and we didn’t recover. So, now what?
Losing a client is a rare event at Functional Pathways and we take it hard. As we’ve worked throughout 2015 to formalize our Client Partnership Strategy, we’ve thought a lot about Commandment #10 from the Ten Commandments of Client Retention – How you close a contract is just as important as how you start one.
In a situation like this, the most important thing is to understand what happened, so that we can identify and address any similar problems with our other clients. The tool we use to achieve this is a Post Mortem Audit®. The Post Mortem is conducted by yours truly – someone who is not part of the Operations team and can bring a neutral tone to the discussion. This process recently put me face to face with a CEO and an Executive Director who were courteous, but frustrated and not hesitant to lay out the disappointing chain of events that led to the termination of the contract.
They talked about unstable staffing and gaps in expertise, but what really jumped out is the perception from the client that it seemed like our team didn’t care whether they had the business or not. In other words, we had not made this client feel significant and like we were proud to partner with them. It seemed like they took that harder than all the missteps we made in technical delivery.
In the short time we spent together that afternoon, it was amazing how they warmed up. The act of asking a few open ended questions and listening with understanding and concern changed the tone of the conversation. They remarked on the passion I exhibited for that business. These simple questions transformed their perceptions.
Let’s remember that our clients take pride in their positions within the community. It is our privilege to partner with them and it’s our responsibility to make sure we express that to them on a regular basis.
We exited that account, but now they know that we want it back and that they mattered. They know that at Functional Pathways we work to learn from our mistakes. I think that’s exactly the sort of organization they want to work with and I am confident that this is business that can be ours again.
Do you have an example of how you let a client know they were important? Send those to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.