Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Saying goodbye to a client

Saying goodbye to a client can be one of the most difficult things you may need to do in your business. More difficult in fact than finding a good client.

We often take up clients because we ‘have to’. We are new to the business, we have no clients, we are thrilled that someone has said yes, it’s recession and we need the money. The fact remains, taking on a client who is known to be difficult from the start, is a poor business decision. Having said this, once you do have a client, he/she can turn out to be a rogue client- poor payment habits, avoiding phone calls, not returning messages and demanding much more than the service outlined- we’ve seen these kind of clients too. And they can be damaging for your business, not to mention, pocket.

So the question is, how does one end such a relationship? With great care! Excellent customer service extends even after it’s time to close the door on a client-provider relationship. The following tips may help you say no more, without the stress and anxiety that is normally associated with doing so; and more importantly, without it effecting your business adversely.

Never attack a client- verbally or in print. Even if you are owed large sums of money, always keep calm and use a sensible legal approach to collecting your outstanding fees.

Keep it short: If you need to apologise, then do so. But keep all explanations short and to the point. No long winded excuses needed at this stage- just a proper explanation and a time frame within which you must end the relationship.
Be clear: Don’t let the client misunderstand you; that could be very embarrassing for both of you. State exactly the reasons why you feel the relationship must end, and make it clear that it is indeed the end.

Never leave a project unfinished: That would be a very unprofessional thing to do, and completely unfair to the client. If you’ve agreed to do something, then go ahead and finish it before you say goodbye. If you can give you client notice, then do so, so he has time to make other arrangements.

Never second guess your decision: there are certain times when second guessing is good. Now is not one of them. If you’ve decided to say no, then stick to your guns; and don’t let anyone, certainly not the client, sway your decision. Going back after you’ve decided to quit shows a lack of strength and unprofessionalism, and this will certainly be taken advantage of.

Ending a relationship is never an easy choice to make, so ensure you are completely sure of why you’ll be doing it, before you actually go ahead and do it.

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