So you’ve lost a client…

manStamping So you’ve lost a client...

As par for the course we all win and lose clients, it’s how business works, but how do you react when you do lose that all important client?

Do you:

a) fight to keep them onside,

Or do you

b) accept defeat gracefully, end the relationship on a positive note and hope to work together again in the future?

I assume most of you opt for b, keep the client happy. It’s the logical way to go and I’ll never understand why some people still choose to go down route a.

So a bit of background info: Company X has for many years been supplier for Company Y. Whilst Initially a good and prosperous relationship, it was felt that in recent times the level and quality of service weren’t living up to the standards they both expected and were paying for.

Because of this company Y decided to approach us and, after several meetings and discussions around the service we felt we could offer, it was agreed that we would take over as their supplier. Standard stuff and something I’m sure we’ve all experienced many times before.

As a sign of things to come though, when contacting company X to arrange the transfer of all the relevant material, they refuse point blank to converse with us and responded to all our attempts at contact with 2/3 word emails.

Fair enough, they’re rightly upset at loosing the client and unfortunately see us as the route cause for this. The client now steps in to act as an intermediary and subsequently starts to feel frustrated with both parties, essentially tarring us both with the same brush.

At this point everything has now been agreed and we’re waiting for the files to be sent to us.  A couple of weeks go by with both us and the client unsuccessfully chasing updates. It’s a little odd but rightly or wrongly the needs of an ex-client may not be top priority for Company X.

Then, out of the blue the client receives, at 4:45pm on a Friday afternoon by special delivery, a DVD containing all the files. Great, well great-ish anyway, with the disc there is a single sheet of paper, on it a message stating that their current hosting will be turned off at mid-day the following Tuesday (or high noon for the western fans out there). Bearing in mind that this is a bank holiday weekend, everyone’s left work early so no-one see’s the disc or realises it’s implications until the following Tuesday morning.

So now we’re in a situation where we need to make a 3 hour round trip to get the files, re-host the sites and somehow get it all done before mid-day. Not great but taking it on the chin we, against all the odds, manage to do it, everything’s up and ready for the domains to be swapped across . The clients over the moon, gives us the nod and we give Company X a call to initiate the transfer the domains.

At this point during the transfer process it’s standard practice to have the site hosted in two places at the same time, one at our end and one at company X’s end. This ensures that the domain is essentially changing from one live site to another, ensuring that from the user’s point of view there is no visible switch over or break in service.

Company X had other ideas though, rather than keep the site live and initiate the transfer process, they instead re-pointed the domain to their own website, then left it a day before initiating the transfer leaving Company Y without their biggest source of income albeit it only for a couple of days.

We all handle these situations in a different way, to my mind though, no matter which way you choose to handle the situation it should always have the clients interest at heart, regardless of whether they are a new customer or you’re losing them to another agency.

Rather than act in the clients best interest Company X decided to instead make the whole process as difficult as possible, timing the transfer to make it deliberately difficult and then imposing impossible time restrictions on to the whole process. As a result of their actions company X has effectively ended their relationship with Company Y in such a way that there is now no possibility of establishing a future relationship.

As is in any industry, reputation and word of mouth are King, why would you choose to damage yourself in this way when there is no need and nothing to be gained from it?

Every client will at some point be unhappy, have technical problems or suffer from the occasional dropping of the ball, it happens and it’s generally excepted. In my experience, if you take it on the chin, engage with the client, solve the problem as quickly as possible then go on to exceed their expectations, that client will almost certainly go on to become one of your biggest advocate.

I may have got this completely wrong but to me this seems an unethical way to do business.

Or am I being naive?

Has Company X been right to act the way they have?

We would love to hear your thoughts on this type of situation, leave your comments below.

We are the pioneers in providing passguide gmat questions and real tests exams with 100% exam pass guarantee. Download our latest certkiller sat questions.

  • designjuices

    The facebook connect where? the page is most definately working as you can find it here :)
    http://www.facebook.com/designjuices

  • Pingback: So you’ve lost a client… | pro2go Designs Blog

  • Pingback: suhelakapoor

  • HelloWorldWeb

    Not your Facebook *page*, the Facebook Connect link. Two different entities, but my guess is someone else set that up, since you don't know what it is.

    Facebook Connect is a way to sign in to add a comment using your Facebook credentials, similar to OpenID.

  • Pingback: So you’ve lost a client…

  • Pingback: Week 3: User Submitted Designer News | nenuno creative

  • designjuices

    changed, and removed.

  • Pingback: 200 Fresh Articles for Designers, Developers and Freelancers | tripwire magazine

  • http://twitter.com/TomGatenby Tom Gatenby

    I should probably have explained in more detail, the client did make the original contact with company x and ok'd with them us getting in touch before we made any attempts at contact with them.

    I can also understand the need to release files to the client instead of us, we would normally do the same unless instructed to do otherwise by the client, but I think it was more the lack of communication that caused the issues, if we'd known the files were going straight to the client and that those time restrictions had been put in place it's something we could have all worked around and planned for properly.

    A serious amount of time, blood, sweat and tears go in to creating and maintaining a good reputation but it's always a fragile construct, and as much as we all have those problem clients I've never though it worth while to risk loosing the reputation over.

  • http://twitter.com/TomGatenby Tom Gatenby

    I should probably have explained in more detail, the client did make the original contact with company x and ok'd with them us getting in touch before we made any attempts at contact with them.

    I can also understand the need to release files to the client instead of us, we would normally do the same unless instructed to do otherwise by the client, but I think it was more the lack of communication that caused the issues, if we'd known the files were going straight to the client and that those time restrictions had been put in place it's something we could have all worked around and planned for properly.

    A serious amount of time, blood, sweat and tears go in to creating and maintaining a good reputation but it's always a fragile construct, and as much as we all have those problem clients I've never though it worth while to risk loosing the reputation over.

  • Pingback: Jared Thompson

  • Pingback: Jared Thompson

  • Pingback: Slobodan Zivulovic

  • Pingback: Roberto Blake

  • http://robertoblake.com Roberto Blake

    This is a really good article and the first I've read from you. I've worked at companies like X and I have to say that preserving your reputation and trying to fair minded with clients is something that companies really overlook sometimes. They forget how important building a good relationship with a client is. If more companies focused on maintaining good relationships and creating positive experiences for their clients then even the recession wouldn't hurt them as much. Looking forward to reading more from you.

  • http://twitter.com/TomGatenby Tom Gatenby

    Thanks Roberto, I'm glad to see it's been well received. It's always seemed like common sense to me to no work or treat people like that but I had no idea when I wrote this whether other people would agree or not, it's somewhat restored my faith to hear other people find it as odd as I do, it's interesting what you say about the recession and I think you're absolutely right, if there was ever a time when you needed to look after and keep your clients on side, it's most definitely now.

  • http://robertoblake.com Roberto Blake

    This is a really good article and the first I've read from you. I've worked at companies like X and I have to say that preserving your reputation and trying to fair minded with clients is something that companies really overlook sometimes. They forget how important building a good relationship with a client is. If more companies focused on maintaining good relationships and creating positive experiences for their clients then even the recession wouldn't hurt them as much. Looking forward to reading more from you.

  • http://twitter.com/TomGatenby Tom Gatenby

    Thanks Roberto, I'm glad to see it's been well received. It's always seemed like common sense to me to no work or treat people like that but I had no idea when I wrote this whether other people would agree or not, it's somewhat restored my faith to hear other people find it as odd as I do, it's interesting what you say about the recession and I think you're absolutely right, if there was ever a time when you needed to look after and keep your clients on side, it's most definitely now.

  • http://www.offshoreitsolutions.net hemal

    Nope company x was being a jerk, I recently had a similar experience and it was pain to move the whole site, domains and emails. My new clients email services where down for about 3 days before everything got back on the track.

  • Pingback: Jared Thompson

  • Pingback: Jared Thompson

  • Pingback: Twitted by DesignJuices