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3 Signs Your Clients Are Getting Ready to Jump Ship

Vol. 25 Issue 8

Post Categories: Sales and Marketing

Don’t miss their SOS—spot and save your dissatisfied customers.


Most companies boost their top line by focusing on new sales initiatives. But the core of a business is still its existing client base.

Unfortunately, retention is often overlooked because some businesses presume that a customer will always be a client. In all reality, the competitive nature of business means your clients have multiple options. The best way to set yourself a part from the crowd is the customer service you provide.

In our companies, we have the goal of retaining 90 percent of the current clientele year-over-year. In order to do that, we proactively address the three following warning signs to spot any dissatisfied clients before they consider “jumping ship.”

Drilling Down to the Details

If you are in a service organization, clients are paying for your expertise because they know they need it. While being 100 percent transparent with customers is extremely encouraged, the moment clients drill in on details they have never focused on before should trigger a lightbulb to the possibility that you have lost their trust or they are searching for a reason to discredit your ability.

Let’s face it, not every dissatisfied client will “take their business elsewhere,” but they will be a negative impact on your business until they eventually leave.

Cutting Out the Small Talk

Customers leave people, not just companies. It doesn’t matter if you are offering a top-of-the-line product, with all the bells and whistles, plus the best marketing around driving steady new business. If an existing client does not feel valued or heard, they will go to a competitor who will fill that void.

For example: Does Betty Sue sound annoyed every time you call or send an email? If she no longer chats about her weekend activities, her two Boston terriers and her love of knitting, then she is probably unhappy, but doesn’t want to tell you. Although Betty Sue may not be the decision-maker, her dissatisfaction with your service or company will resonate with the executives who do control your fate.

Maintain a consistent and respectful relationship with all your client contacts. An easy way to measure when the temperature of your client declines is when the “small talk” or standard relationship activity alters in some form or another.

Not Following the Standard Chain of Command

If clients are constantly going to the department manager or company owner instead of their designated contact, it most likely signifies they are dissatisfied with either the service or product results and want the decision-makers to know.

This opportunity allows managers and business owners to address the issues that caused this break in process and jump on whatever the client needs to continue with the company.

Sometimes it is a simple modification, or it can be a complete transition of service offering. The retention of the account is what matters. When clients are not being heard, they always want to jump the chain of command because they feel their needs are important—and they are.

Overall, dissatisfied customers will breed dissatisfied employees and deter future business as our society is saturated with the referral mentality. Make sure you understand the reason for a client’s behavior change. Speak to your client, either in person or over the phone, to make them feel heard. You will find it may not actually be about the product or service results, but more about a relationship that has suffered for one reason or another.

Delivering that “personal touch” will help shine a light on the true reason for a customer’s dissatisfaction. This is your opportunity to correct an issue before it potentially escalates to lost revenue. By knowing these three warning signs, your company can be proactive and turn around a client before it’s too late.