How to Turn One Lost Customer Into Many Lost Opportunities
I recently gained a new client through what might seem one of the oddest situations. The client showed up at my office and I could tell she had obviously been crying. Sporting moist eyes and blotchy patches on her cheeks and neck, I could tell the emotion behind the tears was strong. The story she told made me cringe – and it wasn’t even about payroll or payroll taxes. Not only did I cringe because it was so painful, but also because it was one that I have heard all too often.
As owner of The Payroll Department and a long-time small business owner, I know vendors and clients “break-up” all the time. There are lots of reasons why services are terminated. For instance:
- Products or services may no longer meet the needs of the client
- The client (or vendor) is difficult to communicate with
- Cost is too expensive or payments are not made in full or on time
- Meetings are missed or routinely cancelled or members habitually show up late
- Quality of work is not maintained
Reasons for the “break-up” can fall on the shoulders of the client, the vendor, or changing circumstances and it is seldom a personal thing. So when the relationship is severed, each party has an opportunity and a choice to make.
In the instance of my new client, she had broken up with a vendor and the choice that vendor made was to burn the bridge. The vendor attacked her personally and professionally. She received a long and tedious emailing blasting her and her decision to leave him. He even threatened to obliterate her on social media platforms. I don’t know the reason she decided to cut ties, but the lesson from this workplace situation is a cautionary one for every small business owner.
Choices and opportunities
The choice that vendor made cost him – big. You see, he will never be able to re-establish a business relationship with this client AND his actions will be shared with my client’s friends and colleagues. He lost a client, a future client and other potential clients and referrals.
Had the vendor shown positive leadership by being gracious and using the feedback she provided to improve or change his business, he might have someday welcomed that client back, along with the referrals and colleagues she might bring with her.
Here at The Payroll Department, we understand that situations change and not every small business is a good fit with another. Our goal is to always provide the best payroll services we can for the most reasonable payroll fees. Outsourcing payroll makes good sense to us, but not to everyone. We have had clients leave us – and come back. Had we treated them ungraciously when they left, we would have never seen them again.
This is such a hard lesson for some small business owners to learn. Business is business and sometimes hard decisions have to be made. Although your business is personal to you, reacting from an emotional and personal position is dangerous. There’s much to learn from the mistakes of others.
-Teresa Ray, owner, The Payroll Department
Well said Teresa! I try never to burn bridges when clients break up with me. And that recently paid off when a former client from 4 years ago reconnected with me!