What’s going on? Three times since the start of this year I have been coaching clients who shared the news that they had just lost an account. And not just any account. It was their biggest or their most profitable or their longest held. One client tried to laugh it off. Another was simply angry … at the client … and a third one was just sad and puzzled. And, after we began examining these situations all of their initial reactions moved to a place of concern.
- They didn’t recall any negative conversations and viewed this as an easy customer.
- They may have done a poor job of really listening to their contact and missed some warning signs of discontent.
- They realized they had no real relationship or interface with any people in higher positions thus making them vulnerable.
- They viewed this customer as a long-term relationship requiring little attention.
Do you see any red flags? I bet you do and even though doing things to change the above pitfalls seems so logical we find that getting comfortable … too comfortable … is not a rare occurrence.
- Adopted the mindset of ”NEVER AGAIN”.
- Took this loss as a signal of other potential problems within their customer base.
- Created a litmus test to perform on each relationship to uncover weaknesses.
- Got input from all within their own organizations who were involved with the customer in order to have a complete picture of the relationship.
EXECUTION OF THEIR CUSTOMER SAVING PLAN:
- The concern and commitment to ‘never again’ was communicated throughout their company.
- All were charged with the responsibility to relate any issues or comments that were made by the customer enabling them to be addressed … regardless of how big or small they appeared to be.
- They applied their litmus test to every customer account to determine the strengths and vulnerabilities of the each.
- They designed a ‘relationship for life’ plan for each account that would move it from what it is to what it needs to be by taking these steps:
- Arranging to meet senior company leaders if they don’t know them.
- Asking their customers what they would like from them that would help them with any aspect of their businesses … planning, pricing, usage reports … and the frequency of receiving this information.
- Suggesting a quarterly (or more frequent) communication keeping these indirect contacts in the know.
- Establishing a regular meeting with their main contact to clearly and directly address any questions, needs or issues that require attention.
- Made Plans to deepen the relationship with occasional lunches, breakfasts as out of the office opportunities strengthen the connection
The longer we have a relationship with a customer the more relaxed and comfortable it becomes from all sides. However, when easier and comfortable spills over the line wherein we take the relationship for granted we risk finding ourselves on a rocky and unstable path. Does it make sense to take inventory in your customers? Litmus paper is VERY inexpensive and a great tool for an annual check-up.